Welcome to the Department of English at Rutgers University

01  TTH5   CAC    16878   CAMARDA  MU-204

Romantic Transgressions: Radicals, Monsters, and the Taboo

This course will provide an introduction to literature written during the later Romantic period. Readings will be organized around three interrelated topics: political and literary radicalism, human and nonhuman monsters, and social taboos. Course participants will read texts from a wide range of literary genres, including poetry, plays, essays, and novels. We will explore how later Romantic writers’ fascination with monsters, social transgression, and disturbing topics—such as incest, anarchy, drug use, and the apocalyptic—still inform our contemporary thinking about the sources of creativity and selfhood. A major point of inquiry will be how representations of taboos and monsters either helped to establish social norms or challenged conventional attitudes toward scientific  advancement, political reform, gender roles, and the domestic sphere. We also will study how later Romantic writers seemed to embrace a freethinking existence on the fringes of polite society at the same time they sought to scandalize, entice, or please their reading publics. While this course will be geared toward students majoring or minoring in literary disciplines, no familiarity with later Romantic writers is required.

Key readings may include works by Percy Bysshe Shelley, Mary Shelley, John Keats, Lord Byron, James Hogg, John William Polidori, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and Thomas De Quincey.

Course requirements: active participation and attendance, short response exercises, two 5-7 page papers


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