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LIT 26 — Great Poems of the English Language: The Victorian Period

Quarter: Spring
Day(s): Tuesdays
Course Format: On-campus course
Duration: 8 weeks
Date(s): Apr 4—May 23
Time: 7:00—8:50 pm
Drop Deadline: Apr 17
Unit: 1
Tuition: $355
Instructor(s): Denise Gigante
On-campus course
7:00—8:50 pm
Apr 4—May 23
8 weeks
Drop By
Apr 17
1 Unit
Denise Gigante
Poetry in the Age of Queen Victoria (1837–1901) was fraught with contradiction. On the one hand, scientific breakthroughs on the order of Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection contributed to a reeling sense of doubt and disorientation in a universe that seemed to be getting bigger and ever more complex. On the other hand, religious conviction continued to give force and meaning to poetry, as in the work of Christina Rossetti and Gerard Manley Hopkins. An expanding empire brought exotic plants, animals, peoples, and products into the limelight for inspection, contributing to curiosity about the far reaches of the planet, while a sense of nostalgia simultaneously sent poets in quest of what seemed to be receding and most difficult to reach: home, childhood, nature. The industrial revolution transformed the landscape and lifestyles along with it, while poets like Alfred, Lord Tennyson, William Morris, and Dante Gabriel Rossetti found inspiration in a heroic age—medieval knights, courtly ladies, chivalric adventures—before the advent of print, consumerism, and technologies of mass production.

This course will cover a range of styles, themes, and voices. We will read Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Charlotte and Emily Brontë, Matthew Arnold, Christina and Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William Morris, Algernon Swinburne, Augusta Webster, Gerard Manley Hopkins, and George Eliot.

Denise Gigante, Professor of English, Stanford

Denise Gigante has taught British literature at Stanford for sixteen years, including several courses for Stanford Continuing Studies. Her most recent book is The Keats Brothers: The Life of John and George. She received an MA and a PhD from Princeton.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Thomas J. Collins and Vivienne J. Rundle, The Broadview Anthology of Victorian Poetry and Poetic Theory (ISBN 9781551111001)