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English - Gender, Literacy, and Romantic Prose | Romantic Circles
The nonfiction prose of the Romantic period in Britain is the record of a people engaged in recreating literacy for a changing world. The period began explosively in with debates over the French Revolution, women's rights and education, and the rights of middle- and working-class men to organize politically.
Then as now, the literacy of women and men alike was crucial to cultural change, for suddenly debaters like Thomas Paine and Hannah More were selling books and pamphlets in the millions. The period ended sedately in with the accession of Queen Victoria and the triumph of prose shaped for consumer magazines. Typical episodes along the way were Edmund Burke's attack on revolution, Mary Wollstonecraft's attack on Burke, and Coleridge's attack on the novel and creation of a new literati called "the clerisy.
We will read nonfiction for its "prose sense" but also for the often gendered revelations of its form, context, rhetoric, and use of metaphor. The course includes contemporary rhetorical, gender, and literacy theory; it will engage our individual struggles with literacy as readers, teachers, writers, citizens, and consumers.
Frequent responses, reports, and a "theory position paper" will deepen and sharpen student work toward seminar papers. Nonfiction prose? Romantic writing? What are these? What are they doing in the same seminar room? Do you skim it? Read it closely? Is nonfiction writing an art?
The Language of Politics in the Age of Wilkes and Burke
Is it a rhetorical situation? What kinds of knowledge should you bring to it? What kinds of skills? In the past few decades, literary study has become much more interested in nonfiction than before. Would you speculate about why? Is it literature What is literature? How does it relate to mould-breaking approaches that have dominated literary study over these decades?
What forms of literacy are at issue here? Is literacy a matter of language or the knowledge carried by language? Is literacy empowering? In the revolutionary cross-currents of the Romantic era, does writing become a means of enfranchisement or of repression? How does one read, write, and get written as a woman in Romantic prose? In contemporary prose? Or media? What is the connection, real or apparent or? How could you triangulate both with nonficton?
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How might "nonfiction" de construct genre? What is gender? How is it an analytic category? How does the study of gender interact with "women's studies"? Can you trace its intellectual origins in psychoanalysis? Is gender a matter of difference? Is gender only an issue when women are an issue? Is gender are genders? Speaking of history, what is happening when "the Romantic Period" shifts from revolution to counter-revolution to reform?
Does history "take shape" here? Like a prose argument? Whose argument? Have you heard of the "Whig theory of history"? It's roughly the same as progressive or evolutionary history, in the popular sense. Is feminist history "Whig history"?
Why are the conditions of publication and of literacy so different at the end of the period, in comparison to the beginning? In the changing social structure of Regency-Reform Britain, how does writing reveal--or exploit? What metaphors dominate the prose of the period?
Their denotations? Do some feminist close reading. You do not currently have access to this article. Download all figures. Sign in. You could not be signed in.
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