Course Instructor Days Times Room


From limericks to dramatic monologues to patriotic ballads; from mythic dream-visions to hymns to political polemics; from instantly beloved children's literature to bitter satires and/or catalysts for sexual scandal, this course will explore a wide range of Victorian poetic texts. In considering Victorian controversies over poetics and the uses of poetry, we will read writing by major Victorian theorists as well as texts by a range of poets including Matthew Arnold, Emily Brontë, Robert Browning, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Lewis Carroll, Toru Dutt, Thomas Hardy, Gerard Manley Hopkins, A. E. Housman, Rudyard Kipling, Christina Rossetti, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Alfred Tennyson, Algernon Charles Swinburne, Augusta Webster, Oscar Wilde, and W. B. Yeats. Readings will be partly negotiated. If student interest is strong enough, we may choose to devote a week or two to a specific line of focus, considering, say, a current debate in Victorian poetic studies; an unusually long poetic text; a non-canonical poet or verse form; and/or the implications of directed, hands-on explorations of some aspect of UGA's rich library resources. 


See below.



Brief Response Papers                                                                                                                                                                                                          10%

These brief, informal papers may take strong critical positions, pose questions to be addressed in discussion, or suggest avenues for future research.  At times they will be due at the beginning of class; at times they will be written during class. 

Explication                                                                                                                                                                                                                                25%

Each student will choose a poem of at least 14 lines (or, with my permission, one section of a long poem) to memorize, perform, and analyze in a detailed essay of around seven pages.


Independent Critical Essay                                                                                                                                                                                                       25%

Each student will write a detailed paper of approximately seven pages, drawing upon independent research and/or the work of other critics to present an original reading of at least one poem. Let me know if you are interested in developing an interdisciplinary project or in receiving permission to focus on a Victorian poem that does not appear on the syllabus. Let me know as soon as possible if you are interested in this option. Note: Students interested in expanding their critical essays may negotiate to replace the final exam (below) with a twenty-page super paper. If you think you might be interested in this option, let me know right away: you will need to present a formal written proposal within a week of turning in your essay.

Midterm Exam: Identification                                                                                                                                                                                                     20%

Note:  Optional Midterm Take-home Essay may count for half.

Final Exam:  Identification and Essay                                                                                                                                                                                         20%


See above.


This is an active, discussion-oriented class. Since many of the real pleasures of poetry come from re-reading, give yourself the chance to explore assigned texts more than once before we meet. (This will mean starting long poems early.)  


Main Text:

Dorothy Mermin and Herbert Tucker, eds., Victorian Literature, 1830-1900, (NY: Harcourt, 2002).

Additional Readings:

              Hand-Outs; Websites; UGA libraries electronic reserve (password: poetry)

              Optional Bel-Jean Packet

To Be Negotiated:

Wayne C. Booth, Joseph M. Williams, and Gregory G. Colomb, The Craft of Research, (Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2003).

Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, ed. Peter Hunt, (Oxford: Oxford UP, 2009).

Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Aurora Leigh, (NY: Norton, 1995).

Makeup Policy

 Though the single lowest response paper grade will be dropped, make-ups will not be accepted for response papers, except under unusual circumstances, with suitable advance notice. Make-up exams will be available only under extraordinary circumstances, preferably with advance notice. 

Let me know in advance if you need to miss class for religious holidays or for compelling professional obligations: I will be happy to negotiate make-up options.

If you have a disability that requires special accommodations, please let me know as soon as possible: I will be pleased to work with Disability Services to adapt assignments.