All 16 entries tagged Poetry And Society

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February 08, 2006

Poetry and Society: BBC Romanticism Series

Writing about web page

BBC RomanticsA series on the Romantics has unfortunately just finised on BBC. Victoria Mason was kind enough to point it out to me. However there are some links and further information at the link above.

January 25, 2006

Poetry and Society: Utilitarianism

Some of you have had a few problems in thinking about utilitarianism and literature, so here are a few thoughts to help you out.

Jeremy Bentham first theorised on the notion of utility; his ideas emerged from the notion that man was under the power of two masters: pain and pleasure. Bentham thought that these were determining factors in influencing moral choices that humans made in their everyday life. Bentham's principle of utility was based on the assumption that the consequences of human actions determine their moral value or merit. The effect on the community and society supersedes other exigencies in making moral decisions. In An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation (1789), Bentham writes that it is 'the greatest happiness of the greatest number that is the measure of right and wrong'. This kind of thinking is sometimes labelled as 'hedonistic' because it privileges happiness of a community above all else.

However there are a number of criticisms of utilitarianism as posed by Bentham. How does the individual fit into this view of life? Is this a kind of mechanization of human life in its systematic thinking? Shouldn't the prevention of suffering take precedence over an action in a scenario in which an action would affect someone who was already happy? Is life simply a balance of pleasure over pain?

John Stuart Mill is different to Bentham because he notices differences in the quality of pleasures to be had. (Mill's Utilitarianism was published in 1861.) So people can experience different kinds of pleasure experienced in various qualitative ways. And how can one know that such pleasures exist unless one has experienced them all and is able to make comparison? Mill is adamant that it is morally important to promote higher kinds of pleasure rather than the lower, more bodily pleasure.

By Bentham, beyond all others, men have been led to ask themselves, in regard to any ancient or received opinion, Is it true? and by Coleridge, What is the meaning of it? – J.S. Mill
The permanency of the nation and its progressiveness and personal freedom depend on a continuing and progressive civilisation. – Coleridge
Man is never recognised by Bentham as being capable of pursuing spiritual perfection as an end. – J.S. Mill
[Wordsworth's poems were] the very culture of the feelings which I was in quest of. In them I seemed to draw from an inward source of joy, of sympathetic and imaginative pleasure, which could be shared by all human beings. -J.S. Mill

January 06, 2006

Poetry and Society: From the Romantics to the Victorians

Important Dates

Here are some significant dates in the nineteenth century, which may help you to grasp the historical influences which were working on litearture at the time. This is by no means comprehensive, but it may help you to start thinking about historical contexts.

1807: Abolition of the slave trade throughout the British Empire.
1811: Rise of the Luddites.
1819: Peterloo Massacre of Corn Law protestors.Factory Act (9s and over: 12 ½ hour shifts).
1829:Catholic Emancipation Act.
1832: The Reform Bill (middle classes able to vote).
1833: Slavery abolished throughout the British Empire. Factory Act (No Under 9s).
1834: New Poor Law.
1837: Queen Victoria takes to the throne.
1838–1849: The Chartist Movement.
1843: Wordsworth Poet Laureate.
1845: Corn Laws (which had kept up the price of grain) repealed.
1845–1850: Famine in Ireland.
1848: Public Health Act.
1850: Telegraph Cable Laid Under the English Channel.
1850 Tennyson Poet Laureate. Factory Act (women and children 10 1/2 hour shifts).
1851: The Great Exhibition of London takes place at Crystal Palace.
1853: Crimean War begins.
1856: Big Ben is cast. The Treaty of Paris ends the Crimean War
1857: Indian Mutiny.
1858: Victoria proclaims permanent British rule of India. First Atlantic cable laid.
1859: Darwin’s The Origin of Species published.
1864: Contagious Diseases Act.
1867: The Second Reform Bill (many workingmen also able to vote). South African diamond fields discovered.
1869: The Suez Canal was opened.
1870: Education Act of 1870 (mass education).
1871: Darwin’s Descent of Man is published.
1875: Public Health Act of 1875
1876: Bell's telephone. Edison's phonograph.
1876: Victoria proclaimed Empress of India
1878: Electric street lighting began in London.
1879: Somerville and Lady Margaret Colleges (for women) founded at Oxford.
1886: Britain makes Burma a province of India after winning the Anglo-Burma War.
1879: Swan and Edison independently produced the light bulb.
1884–5: The Third Reform Bill (Agricultural Laborers given the vote).
1886: Irish Home Rule Bill Defeated.
1887: Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee.
1888: Jack the Ripper.
1897: Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee.
1898: Britain obtains a 99 year lease for Hong Kong from China
1899–1902: Boer War

December 05, 2005

Poetry and Society: CHRISTMAS HOLIDAY

The Christmas term is a good opportunity to consolidate your knowledge of the Romantics. Ensure that you have read the following essays from your anthology:
•Edmund Burke, from A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origins of our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful (1757).
•Mary Wollstonecraft, from A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792).
•William Wordsworth, Preface to the Lyrical Ballads (1800).
•S. T. Coleridge, from Biographia Literaria (1817).
•P. B. Shelley, A Defence of Poetry (extracts).
•John Keats, letter to George and Tom Keats, December 21, 1817; letter to John Hamilton Reynolds, May 3, 1818; letter to Richard Woodhouse, October 27, 1818.

Important Books on the Romantics

M. H. Abrams, The Mirror and the Lamp: Romantic theory and the critical tradition (Norton, 1958).
Walter J. Bate, From Classic to Romantic (Harper, 1946).
Marilyn Butler, Romantics, rebels and reactionaries (Oxford UP, 1982).
Stuart Curran, The Cambridge Companion to British Romanticism (Cambridge UP, 1993).
Aidan Day, Romanticism (New Critical Idiom, 2000).
P. Feldman and T. Kelley, eds., Romantic Women Writers (New England UP, 1995).
Iain McCalman, An Oxford Companion to the Romantic Age (Oxford UP, 1999).
Anne Mellor, Romanticism and Gender (Indiana UP, 1993).

Important Books on the Victorians

Isobel Armstrong, Victorian Poetry: Poetry, Poetics, and Politics (Routledge, 1993).
Joseph Bristow, ed., The Cambridge Companion to Victorian Poetry (Cambridge UP, 2002).
Richard Cronin et al, ed. A Companion to Victorian Poetry (Blackwell, 2002).
Robin Gilmour, The Victorian period : the intellectual and cultural context of English literature, 1830–1890 (Longman,
Raymond Williams, Culture and Society 1780–1950 (London, 1958).

Poetry and Society: Spring Term Course Outline: Victorian Poetry

PLEASE NOTE THAT ALL OF THE READING IS IN YOUR ANTHOLOGY: Thomas J. Collins and Vivienne J. Rundle, ed., The Broadview Anthology of Victorian Poetry and Poetic Theory, Concise Edition (Broadview, 2000); ISBN 155111366X.

Week 1:Seminar: Tennyson: ‘The Lady of Shalott’, ‘Mariana’. John Stuart Mill’s essay ‘What is Poetry?’ and Arthur Henry Hallam’s ‘On Some of the Characteristics of Modern Poetry’.
Lecture:Victorian Poetry (Emma Francis)

Week 2:Seminar:Letitia Landon (LEL): ‘The Improvisatrice (I am a daughter of that land)’, ‘Sappho’s Song’, ‘The Nameless Grave’. Also her essay ‘On the Ancient and Modern Influence of Poetry’.
Lecture:Letitia Elizabeth Landon (Emma Francis)

Week 3:Seminar:Matthew Arnold: ‘Dover Beach’ and ‘The Buried Life’. Also Arnold’s ‘Preface to the First Edition of Poems’ and ‘The Function of Criticism at the Present Time’.
Lecture:Tennyson and Arnold (Emma Francis)

Week 4:Seminar:Tennyson: ‘Break, break, break’, ‘The Kraken’In Memoriam. Also William Johnson Fox’s essay ‘Tennyson: Poems Chiefly Lyrical 1830’.
Lecture:Tennyson, In Memoriam (Emma Mason)

Week 5:Seminar:Elizabeth Barrett Browning: ‘Runaway Slave at Pilgrim’s Point’ and ‘A Musical Instrument’. Robert rowning: ‘Porphyria’s Lover’ and ‘My Last Duchess’.
Lecture:Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning (Emma Francis)

Week 6:Reading Week – No seminar. No lecture.

Week 7:Seminar:D.G. Rossetti: ‘Jenny’ and ‘Willowwood’ (sonnets xlix, 1, li, lii), his essay ‘The Stealthy School of Criticism’ and Robert Buchanan’s essay ‘The Fleshly School of Poetry: Mr. D.G. Rossetti’. Christina Rossetti: ‘Goblin Market’.
Lecture:‘Goblin Market’ and ‘Jenny’ (Emma Francis)

Week 8:Seminar:Christina Rossetti: ‘After Death’, ‘Echo’, ‘In an Artist’s Studio’, ‘A Better Ressurection’.
Lecture:Christina Rossetti (Emma Francis)

Week 9: Seminar:Gerard Manley Hopkins: ‘God’s Grandeur’, ‘The Windhover’, ‘As kingfishers catch fire’. Also his ‘Author’s Preface’.
Lecture:Hopkins (Emma Mason)

Week 10:Seminar:Swinburne: ‘Anactoria’, ‘The Garden of Proserpine’. Also his essay ‘Under the Microscope’.
Lecture:Swinburne (Jonathan Bate)

November 18, 2005

Poetry and Society: Research

Useful Links:

Athens Password
NB You can also aks at thW library for your Athens password.

Useful Resources with Athens Password

Contemporary Women's Issues

Also see…
A Comprehensive List of Databases

November 10, 2005

Poetry and Society: First assessed essay

Writing about web page

Practical criticism essay (close-reading): 1500 words

Worth 15% of the final mark

Due November 21 (term 1, week 9), no later than 3pm.

Essays must be typed or printed (not handwritten). You should choose a short poem or 30–40 lines from a longer poem (such as The Two-Part Prelude) and write a close reading, paying attention to the poem’s form. This means thinking about the shape of the poem on the page, how many lines the poem has (and the length of these lines), the poem’s sound (metre, pattern, rhyme, alliteration), the poem’s structure, the poet’s choice of diction and syntax, the poem’s figurative devices and the mode of address (who is speaking to who?) When writing the essay, do not simply list these formal qualities (or worry about the various Greek names that are attached to them), but relate them to the meaning, as you see it, of the poem you’ve chosen. For example, on one level, the apparently simplistic ballad form of ‘Simon Lee’ illuminates Wordsworth’s interest, and idealisation of, the simplicity of domestic and human experience in rural, labouring areas. You should thus think about why blank verse, ballad form, the sonnet, lyric and so on are being used by the poet to communicate specific ideas and feelings: why does the poet use a poem, rather than prose or drama, to relate certain ideas and images?

Students are reminded that the deadline constitutes the final submission time after which essays cannot be considered as part of their examination unless an extension has been granted. Requests for extensions will be dealt with by Dr Emma Mason. Extensions will be granted ONLY on production of medical certificates or in exceptional circumstances within three days of an essay deadline. Retrospective extensions will not be given. Pressure of work is not a valid reason for an extension request.

Please note that this is Emma Mason's entry pasted from the Poetry and Society Web Pages. See link above

November 08, 2005

Poetry and Society: Group 1 12–1 Time Change

Dear Students in Group 1 from 12–1 on Thursday,

As you know, next term I will have problems teaching the class at this time, but I think that it is best if we change the time for next term. Many of you have not written to me with the spaces in your timetable. Please do so asap.

Poetry and Society: Specific Tips

1. Try to use the passive voice – less of 'I think', 'I am going to' – and more of 'It is suggested by … that…', 'This essay will ….'.

2. Don't generalise unless the point you are making is common sense or generally known. Otherwise you will need to go into more depth – this is where research comes in.

3. Use a referencing system – see the Department of English Undergraduate Handbook p.11.

4. Think more about the effect of meter – James Fenton's An Introduction to English Poetry can help here.

5. Imagine that the reader has never read the poem that you are writing on and that they are ignorant of any knowledge about the Romantics. You have to prove your claims by using textual citation – from the specific poem and from other texts that will support more general points made.

Essay Writing Session

This Friday (Week 7) Dr. Cathia Jenainati is holding two essay writing sessions which will be of great help to all of you in my classes.

10–12 in H545


1–3 in L4 Chemistry

Poetry and Society: General Tips After Marking First Assignment

After marking your assignments, I have a few tips to remember in future:

1. Plan your work carefully with an eye to structure. One of the specifications for giving a high mark is 'Highly developed organisation of overall argument'. The organisation of your argument is an extremely important factor in creating a convincing, cohesive argument – the marking criteria mentions the need for 'very effective and persuasive argumentative writing'. If you are having trouble with structuring your essays or creating a cohesive argument, see a Royal Literary Fund Fellow – you can book appointments through the English Department Office.

2. When thinking about what angle or argument you are going to adopt in relation to a text, be ambitious. High marks are given out for an 'ambitious argument or project carried out successfully'.

3. Be detailed in your textual analysis. High marks are given for 'outstandingly perceptive commentary on a number of details of the text'.

4. Show that you are enthusiastic and engaged with the text. By this I don't mean comments such as 'Wordsworth is a very intelligent man' or 'I love this poem'. Rather I mean that you should show your engagement through your felicity of style – the mark scheme mentions 'convincing and vivid presentation of an engaged response to the text'.

5. Research – you need to show that you have knowledge of the subject area that you are writing in and you need to integrate textual citation elegantly. Ultimately you need to show that you have engaged with the arguments of other critics and you needto show how your argument relates to the angles of other critical texts on that subject.

Useful Links

Diana Hacker's Website

Search this blog

Creative Research Blog

Please note that I also have a blog for ideas and research at:

Women Writing Rape

See this new blog set up to coincide with the symposium, Women Writing Rape: Literary and Theoretical Narratives of Sexual Violence

Practice of Poetry Seminar:

Thursdays 9 – 12 noon in the Mead Gallery, Warwick Art Centre

REMINDER: When bringing poems to be workshopped in class, it would be great to bring extra copies so that we can all see the poem on the page.

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