Small Wonders

The “small wonders” of this class are short poems, songs, sonnets, odes, and others from a period famed for excellence in these short literary forms. The poetry produced in England in the years 1789-1820 revolutionized the themes and diction of poetry and substantially rethought the nature of poetic thinking. This subject will read ample selections of lyric writing from the major poets of English Romanticism, and will situate this poetry in relation to what William Wordsworth described as “the great national events” of his moment (the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars, economic modernization, urbanization and industrialization, the early feminist and abolitionist movements, etc.). Our readings will attend more particularly to the invention of a formal literary language responsive to these contexts. Authors will include William Blake, Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Percy Shelley, John Keats, Lord Byron. The student who takes this subject can expect to gain an intimate familiarity with some of the most exhilarating, challenging, and beautiful short poems in the language.