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    Explore how revolution and social change, from women’s rights to the battle against slavery, shaped writers of the Romantic era (1780-1837), including William Blake, Jane Austen, and John Keats.

    The study of British literature of the Romantic era (1780-1837) has undergone profound change in the last few decades. This paper will examine the work of familiar Romantic-era writers like William Wordsworth and John Keats, but it will also include important works by lesser-known figures like Anna Barbauld and John Clare.

    For most of the semester, we will focus on individual authors and familiarise ourselves with specific forms and ideas common to the Romantic era. Along the way we will consider major issues of the day: revolution, colonialism, the slave trade and industrialisation. In the final weeks our readings will shift from author-based to theme-based, as we examine how a variety of writers responded to historical, aesthetic and environmental changes in their world.

    About this paper

    Paper title Romantics, Revolutionaries, and the Imagination
    Subject English
    EFTS 0.15
    Points 18 points
    Teaching period Semester 1 (On campus)
    Domestic Tuition Fees ( NZD ) $981.75
    International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.
    18 200-level ENGL points
    Schedule C
    Arts and Music
    Teaching staff

    Lecturer: Associate Professor Thomas McLean

    Paper Structure

    All material presented here is subject to change.

    Weekly Overview

    • Week 1: Introduction; poetry of Charlotte Smith and Robert Burns
    • Week 2: Poetry of William Blake
    • Week 3: Poetry of William Wordsworth and ST Coleridge
    • Week 4: Poetry of Robert Southey and ST Coleridge
    • Week 5: Lord Byron and Sir Walter Scott
    • Week 6: Library research sessions
    • Week 7: Poems of Anna Barbauld and Percy Shelley
    • Week 8: Poetry of John Keats
    • Week 9: Jane Austen, Persuasion
    • Week 10: Representing Ancient Worlds
    • Week 11: War and Exile
    • Week 12: Sublime and Beautiful
    • Week 13: Poetry of John Clare; review


    • Internal Assessment: 60%
      Assessment includes a major research project in which students conduct focused research on a topic in British Romantic era literature, create an annotated bibliography based on that research and then write an essay further exploring the topic.
    • Final Examination: 40%

    All students must take the two-hour exam during the exam period.


    English Romantic Poetry (Dover).
    Jane Austen, Persuasion (Penguin).
    Additional readings available through eReserve.

    Graduate Attributes Emphasised
    Scholarship, Critical thinking, Research.
    View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
    Learning Outcomes

    Students who successfully complete this paper will gain:

    • A familiarity with significant writers, literary themes and literary genres of the British Romantic era
    • An understanding of the historical and social contexts that helped shape Romantic literature
    • Mastery of research skills required for advanced inquiry into British Romantic era literature


    Semester 1

    Teaching method
    This paper is taught On Campus
    Learning management system


    Stream Days Times Weeks
    A1 Tuesday 13:00-13:50 9-13, 15-22
    Thursday 13:00-13:50 9-13, 15-16, 18-22


    Stream Days Times Weeks
    Attend one stream from
    A1 Wednesday 13:00-13:50 10-13, 15-16, 18-20
    A2 Wednesday 15:00-15:50 10-13, 15-16, 18-20
    A3 Wednesday 14:00-14:50 10-13, 15-16, 18-20
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