Appendix C: Repetitions of the Romantic: An Investigation into Romantic and Post-Romantic Art Syllabus

D.B. Ruderman (The Ohio State University)

. . . the romantic . . . looks like something completely contemptible in the light of literary intellectualism and cynicism. The romantic, however, has a way of renewing itself. It can be said of the romantic, just as it can be said of the imagination, that it can never effectively touch the same thing twice in the same way. It is partly because the romantic will not be what has been romantic in the past that it is preposterous to think of confining poetry hereafter to the revelation of reality. The whole effort of the imagination is toward the production of the romantic. — 20th-century poet Wallace Stevens


English 4575
Autumn 2014
Wed 5:30- 8:15 PM – 70 Hopewell
Professor D.B. Ruderman –
Office Hours: Reese 240 – Tues 3-4; Wed 3-4

The British romantic period, roughly 1790 – 1830, is generally recognized as one of the most important and influential historical periods of Western literary, cultural, and political activity and thought. While “romanticism” can undoubtedly be studied hermetically, i.e. as an international or national period-specific phenomenon, this class seeks to locate, using T. S. Eliot’s language, not so much what is dead and worthy of recuperation in romanticism, as “what is already living.” We seek to uncover, in other words, those aspects of the romantic that are continually in flux and yet continue to shape the current sense of our own aesthetic, political, and cultural possibilities. To do so we pair texts from the romantic period with resonant postromantic, modernist, and postmodernist texts. Not only do we read poems written over the last two hundred and fifty years, but we also watch movies, read essays and political tracts, read short fiction and drama, and listen to a wide range of music. We read with the assurance that these trans-historical and generic texts allow for a reciprocal critique. Defining the romantic this way means not only historicizing its forms, ideas, and impulses, but also feeling them—that is, recognizing ourselves as subjects, individuals who, whether we identify as inside or outside of our dominant cultural, are nonetheless caught up in something larger than ourselves (language, the nation-state, the unconscious, etc.). Perhaps it might also mean projecting a way (or ways) forward . . . (Class fulfills the pre-1800 requirement)

Required Texts:

Texts in a course packet (available at book store).
Supplemental texts on Carmen or distributed in class.
Movies available to watch online for one week through the “DRM” (accessible through Carmen).

Course Requirements:

Attendance: you may miss 1 class without penalty: afterward, each unexcused absence results in a ½ letter drop in your final grade.
Participation: this is a small, upper-division class. I envision it as a hybrid class, part lecture and part seminar. As such, you’ll be expected to have read the material before class, and to able to speak about it intelligently in class discussions (10 % of grade).
Weekly responses in the form of posts on Carmen: every Monday night (by 6 in a dropbox in Carmen) you will submit two-to four-paragraph responses to the poems (at least 250 words) we were to read for that week. Your comments should be substantive; they should quote passages from and engage closely with the text. And while you are free to focus primarily on one text, this is an inter-textual and trans-historical class, and you should attempt to interpret across genres and periods, as well as to contextualize your responses within the larger themes of the class. (25 % of grade).
2 papers – one short (4-6 pages – 25 % of grade), one long (8-12 pages – 40 % of grade). The short paper uses close reading techniques to examine a poem, story, essay, or film, something that we’ve looked at in class. The second paper should be less of a close reading and more of a research paper. You may also choose to do a creative project as your final but it must be approved beforehand and must not only engage with or reflect some aspect of the romantic (formal and thematic), but you must also write a 3- to 6-page analysis of your own work and its relation to its topic or reiterated form.

Special Needs:

If you need accommodations due to a disability, you must first register with the Office for Disability Services (ODS) at 226 Warner Center, ext. 441. After you receive your authorized accommodation from ODS, you should show me your access plan and discuss your needs with me. Ideally, we should meet within the first week of class.


Any student suspected of engaging in academic misconduct as set forth in section 3335-23-02 of the Code of Student Conduct will be reported to the Committee on Academic Misconduct. Academic misconduct is defined in the code as “any activity that tends to compromise the academic integrity of the university, or subvert the educational process.” Examples include but are not limited to violation of course rules, submitting plagiarized work, knowingly providing or receiving information during exams or quizzes, and other such acts of academic dishonesty.

Schedule of Classes and Coursework:

(Please read/view/listen to all of the texts for each class prior to the class period. Please “read” attentively. Most texts require more than one reading in order to begin to unpack their meaning[s]. Texts marked with a * are from Carmen/handouts; texts marked with a # are in the course packet; and movies marked with ° are on the Ohio State movie database [DRM] and available for one week before each class period.)

Wed. 8/27 – romantic(ism)

an overview of the course and a discussion of the stakes
“Strange Fits of Passion” (1798—William Wordsworth) #
opening scene from Tree of Life (2011—movie by Terrence Malick) °

Wed. 9/3 – affect and emotion

Music from Bon Iver (circa 2011) #
“Note to Pati” — short film by Saul Levine (circa 1969) #
EBB sonnets (circa 1845) *
from “Tradition and the Individual Talent” (not emotions but “new combinations of feeling”) — Eliot (circa 1919) #
from The Renaissance — Pater *
“Songs of Innocence and Experience” — William Blake. 1) “Infant Joy” and ”Infant Sorrow” # * 2) ”The Sick Rose” *
“A London Summer Morning” (Mary Robinson) *
Excerpts from ”Observations on Man” (David Hartley) #
“Essay on Life” (P. B. Shelley) #
“Bitter Rain in my Courtyard” (Wu Tsao) *
recommended: from David Hume's Treatise on Human Nature (on the origin of ideas) *

Wed. 9/10 – ecology and interconnectedness

“Lines Written in Early Spring”—William Wordsworth *
“Mouse’s Nest” – John Clare *
“This Lime-tree Bower, my Prison”—S.T. Coleridge #
from “Preface to Lyrical Ballads”—William Wordsworth (“The principle Object, then…”) #
“Corson’s Inlet” A. R. Ammons #
“Gopher Guts” (song)—Aesop Rock #
Magnolia (movie) °

Wed. 9/17 – melancholy vs. negative capability

“Anactoria”—Algernon Charles Swinburne *
from “A Contribution to the Psychogenesis of Manic-Depressive States”—Melanie Klein#
music from Bob Dylan, Sufjan Stevens #
“Dejection an Ode”—S. T. Coleridge (2 versions) *
Keat's letters * also #
“Ode to a Nightingale”—John Keats *
“Ode on Melancholy”—John Keats *

Wed. 9/24 – ecology and alienation

Excerpt from Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (circa 1817) #
“The Badger: A Sequence”—John Clare *
from Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage—Lord Byron *
“Four Trees—opon a solitary Acre”—Emily Dickinson (circa 1860) 639*
“A Field of Silence” (essay) by Annie Dillard (circa 1980) #
Safe (movie-circa 1999) by Todd Haynes °
“Ode on Melancholy”—John Keats *

Wed. 10/1 – uncanny intimacy—the stranger without and within (1st paper due)

two sonnets by Gerard Manley Hopkins (circa 1870s) *
“The Snowman”—Wallace Stevens (circa 1918) #
“Northwest Passage,” the pilot episode of Twin Peaks (director David Lynch—circa 1990) °
“Anecdote for Fathers”—William Wordsworth #
“Old Man Traveling”—William Wordsworth #
“The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”—S. T. Coleridge #
recommended: from Kant’s Critique of Judgment (pages on the sublime) *

Wed. 10/8 – revolutionary intimacy

“Frost at Midnight”—S.T. Coleridge #
“I Am”—John Clare *
“The Divine Image” and “The Human Abstract”—William Blake *
from “Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844”—Karl Marx (“The entire movement of history is…coming-to-be”) #
“For Marilyn” (short film by Stan Brakhage—circa 1992) (Carmen)
Sections from Gerard Manley Hopkins’s letters (circa 1880?) *
“Break, Break, Break”—Tennyson (circa 1835) #

Wed. 10/15 – the subject of history—“polis is this”

From “The Painter of Modern Life”—Charles Baudelaire (circa 1860?) *
“A Telegraph Harp”—Henry David Thoreau (circa 1851) *
From “Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses”—Louis Althusser (circa 1967) #
“Maximus to Gloucester 27, Letter Withheld”—Charles Olson (circa 1960) #
“de la souls”—P.O.S. (song—circa 2006) #
From “The Grasmere Journals”—Dorothy Wordsworth *
From “Defence of Poetry”—P.B. Shelley #
“France: an Ode”—S. T. Coleridge #
recommended: “What is Enlightenment?” by Immanuel Kant *

Wed. 10/22 – the domestic imagination

From “My first Acquaintance with Poets”—William Hazlitt #
“Upon Leaving a Place of Retirement”—S.T. Coleridge #
Paintings of his daughters by Thomas Gainsborough (Carmen)
from Biographia Literaria, chapter XI—S. T. Coleridge #
Letters to Robert Southey on “pantisocracy,” from Collected Letters—S. T. Coleridge #
“By the Fireside”—Robert Browning #
American Heart (movie—1992—Martin Bell) °
recommended: “What is Enlightenment?” by Immanuel Kant *

Wed. 10/29 – immortality, or the death drive

“My Life had stood—a Loaded Gun”—Emily Dickinson (circa 1860)*
“Dead, long dead,” from Maud —Alfred Lord Tennyson *
from “Beyond the Pleasure Principle”—Sigmund Freud (circa 1920) #
“A Slumber did My Spirit Seal”—William Wordsworth #
“Ode: ‘There was a time’”—William Wordsworth *
from “Essay upon Epitaphs” #
the “Fenwick note” to “Ode” #

Wed. 11/5 – forms of intoxication

“Kubla Khan”—S.T. Coleridge *
Excerpts from Coleridge’s notebooks – (the phenomenology of altered states of perception) #
from Endymion, Book One: Hymn to Pan—John Keats *
“Poppies”—Sara Coleridge #
“Get Drunk”—Charles Baudelaire (circa 1860) *
“Morning of Drunkenness”—Arthur Rimbaud *
“Cathedral”—Raymond Carver (circa 1981) #
The Master (Movie by Paul Thomas Anderson) °

Wed. 11/12 pre-recorded lecture – no class meeting
radical autonomy / radical reliance
(proposals for final project due)

“The Marriage of Heaven and Hell”—William Blake #
“Mont Blanc”—P.B. Shelley #
“I cannot live with You”—Emily Dickinson (circa 1860) *
“Good Country People”—short fiction by Flannery O’Connor (circa 1955) #

Wed. 11/19 – last reverberations I (compulsions to repeat)

from Lectures in America—Gertrude Stein (circa 1930s—a theory of repetition) #
excerpt from Music for 18 Musicians (music by Steven Reich—circa 1976) #
“Algorithms: Erasures and the Art of Memory”—Paul Miller (aka D.J. Spooky)—circa 2004 #
Tree of Life (Movie by Terence Malick—2011) °
Nine Sonnets: from London to Paris, August/September 1802—William Wordsworth *
from “Preface to Lyrical Ballads’” (Wordsworth’s theory of repetition) #
Fragments from the Gutch Notebook—S. T. Coleridge *

Wed. 12/3 – last reverberations II (what counts as political, stabs at occupation)

“England in 1819”—P.B. Shelley *
“Two April Mornings”—William Wordsworth #
“Commencement Speech to Kenyon College”—David Foster Wallace (circa 2005) #
recommended: Book one of The Social Contract from Jean Jacques Rousseau *

Wed. 12/11 – final projects due