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English 375 — Revolution, Revolt, and British Romanticism (1770-1830)

J. Jennifer Jones

Student Writing

March on Versailles

Scholars have long read British Romanticism through the movements for democratic reform associated with the American and French revolutions. This course begins by studying predecessor work by women writers of the late seventeenth century to give you some sense of the political and literary legacy of the Romantic era where slavery, abolition, and the participation of women writers (both in literary circles generally and in abolition debates specifically) are concerned. The course proceeds to study the French Revolution controversy, a deeply influential exchange and publication of political essays and letters among some of the foremost thinkers in England who watched and theorized the events of the French Revolution — the goals of which were “Liberty! Fraternity! Equality! — from across the (extremely narrow) English Channel. These goals of the Revolution can also be said to be defining goals of the period we refer to as British Romanticism (1780-1830). And yet, how, as many of the writers we will study asked, is it possible to attain “liberty” or “equality” in a country that supports slavery and enforces sex/gender inequality? Moreover, are the ideals of “equality” and “fraternity” at cross purposes, given that fraternity is a gendered term? Through these questions (and others) w e we will study how the initial Revolution controversy spurred significant political revolts during the period of British Romanticism — in particular the efforts to emancipate women and slaves. Our chief points of focus are on abolition discourse and the revolt by slaves in Saint Domingue and on women’s literary participation in the various revolutions and controversies, including that of female emancipation and equality itself. Throughout the term, our study will help us to address larger questions about the historical/literary period we call British Romanticism as well as its legacy: How does our view of Romantic ideology change when we focus on English responses to slavery and the slave revolts of the 1790s? How do countervailing narratives by women and slaves affect definitions of rights, progress, self, imagination, empathy? How do they influence our dreams for social change now? What, finally, are the possibilities, the limits, and the politics of imagination?



Office & Office Hours

Independence 175B
T 1-2pm and by appointment

Course Location & Time

Independence 203
T-TH 2-3:15pm

Required Texts

The Longman Anthology of British Literature. Volume 2A: The Romantics and Their Contemporaries. 3rd Edition (2006)

 Britain and the French Revolution. By Clive Emsley. Longman (2000)

Memoirs of Emma Courtney and Adeline Mowbray; or, The Mother and Daughter. [Amelia Opie] College Publishing (2004)

A Writer's Reference. By Diana Hacker. 5th Edition (2002)

What Every Student Should Know about Citing Sources with MLA Documentation. By Michael Greer. Pearson Longman (2007)

What Every Student Should Know about Plagiarism. By Linda Stern. Pearson Longman (2007)

Course Packet. Available at ICopy

Course Requirements

Participation (20%)
Paper #1 (15%)
Paper #2 (15%)
Paper #3 (15%)
Paper #4 (20%)
Final Exam (15%)