Spring 2015

Solitude and the Self in British Romanticism

Listed in: English, as ENGL-438


Amelia Worsley (Section 01)


Are we most ourselves when we are alone?  Is creativity made more possible by solitude?  Why do artists and writers tend to be seen as more solitary than other kinds of people?

In this course, we will study shifting ideas about the relationship between the self, solitude, and creativity in the works of William Wordsworth, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Charlotte Smith, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Felicia Hemans, John Keats, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Mary Shelley, Lord Byron, and Mary Wollstonecraft. Our main focus will be on Romantic poetry, but we will also pay close attention to texts about solitude that the Romantics themselves read, such as Shakespeare’s Hamlet and The Tempest, Milton’s Paradise Lost, Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, and eighteenth-century “graveyard poetry,” in order to question more rigorously how ideas about solitude changed across time. How do factors such as gender, race, national origin, and class have a bearing upon the way that solitude is represented? The course includes an independent research project, in which students are asked to find a memoir, philosophical work, novel, periodical, or piece of travel writing from 1700-1830, in which solitude is a central concept, in order to ask how the development of different genres and modes of autobiographical writing affected ideas about solitude.

Open to juniors and seniors.  Limited to 15 students.  Spring semester.  Professor Worsley.

If Overenrolled: Preference given to junior and senior majors.


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2015