ANNOUNCEMENT: The final exam will be held in King Hall B3007 starting at 6pm. The room (hopefully) will be open by 5:30pm.
Up until 1914, whenever a Briton spoke of the "Great War" he or she meant the nearly uninterrupted twenty-two years of conflict between Britain and France at the turn of the nineteenth century. While the impact of the French Revolution on British literature and culture has been studied at length, the impact of this first modern war—modern in terms of weapons, tactics, scope and devastation—has only recently attracted the attention of scholars of literature and culture.
This relative lack of interest in wartime Britain is surprising when one considers the prominence of the war—its images, its seductions, its savagery—in virtually every aspect of British life during the two decade period generally considered the core of British Romanticism. It is the war that produces the beggars, drifters, discharged soldiers, widows and orphans that crowd Wordsworth’s poems. It is the war that encourages Walter Scott to collect the ballads and songs of the "borders" to celebrate the valor of warrior Scots. It is the war that provides Byron with the gruesome background against which he constructs his larger-than-life self. It is the war that propels Shelley, Blake, Barbauld and others into dangerous opposition to the idea of war.
In this course we will read a wide-range of texts published between 1793 and 1815 by significant writers of the time, including Burke, Paine, Godwin, Barbauld, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Blake, Scott, Austen, Byron and Shelley. We will also look at less traditional works such as popular ballads, periodical literature, and journalistic accounts, as well as recent historical scholarship on Britain and the war.