Nineteenth Century Literature 2017

Hello All,

We have had a wonderful start to our Autumn semester in Sydney: temperatures are still hovering around the mid twenties but we have had lashings of rain which has kept our burgeoning bush alive and free from the ravages of late summer bush fires! And for me it is just wonderful to be immersed again in the poetry of the Romantics, this time with the added frisson created by bringing Jane Austen into the conversation about who and what the Romantics were. Clearly Jane Austen was not a Romantic in the strict sense of the word. She valued reason, balance, social stability and her characters by and large reflect the upper echelons of the society of her day. However, we know that she read the Romantic poets; she was a very literate woman and kept abreast of the writing of her times. She also knew all about what was happening in revolutionary France although this never enters her narratives. However, the depth of her insight into human psychology, the depth of her wish to understand the essential forces that drive our actions is SOOOO Romantic. No one, except Wordsworth himself gets so close to describing the layers of impulses that inhabit the human breast- especially at times of crisis- which of course includes the event called “Love”.

Just before I get onto the Blog Topics for this week, just a brief “forewarned is forearmed advertisement” for the unit “The Literature and Drama of New York” which James Marland (drama) and I (literature) will be running again in the summer of 2017/2018. If you want to read something about our recent unit then click on “New York” at the top of this blog and it will take you to some of the reflections and memories of those who went on this trip with us.

Blog Topics for Week 3

These Blog Topics are posted weekly at

Please study carefully the Appendices at the end of the Unit Outline which gives you more details about this task. Most important is that you try to maintain a mix of Creative and Critical entries. Remember also that you are permitted to create a topic of your own.

Try to keep blog length between 250 and 350 words. There is no maximum length. Try also to incorporate some visual components in your blog, but be sure to acknowledge the source of your visual (if it is not your own photograph). Remember the theme for the final ePortfolio which should underpin your blogs as a whole:

The human and artistic concerns of both the Romantic and Victorian Ages are similar to our own concerns; the response to those concerns- given by poets, novelists, dramatists and artists- can help us live fuller, more meaningful and creative lives in our own times.

Remember also that you are required to write a short peer review each week (starting in week 5) of someone else in the unit. Be constructive, creative and critical in your response and be sure to copy and paste your comment (with your peer’s URL) into your own Blog as a new entry.

For further help on how to use WordPress go to

And look for the film entitled “ Essential Training” with Carrie Dils.

1/ CREATIVE “Expostulation and Reply”

In this poem Wordsworth responded to his friend Matthew by explaining to him the value of sitting “upon this old grey stone” and ignoring “books”.

In either prose or verse write a passage that tells Matthew why there is more to life than books. You can of course look at “The Tables Turned” for some of your ideas.

2/ CRITICAL In your own words briefly say how the ideas in “Expostulation & Reply” & “The Tables Turned” have helped you to understand Romanticism.

3/ CREATIVE “Resolution and Independence” is Wordsworth’s poem on how his depression lifted after seeing the “Resolution and Independence” of the leech gatherer.

Do you have a memory of a moment in your life where your mood changed suddenly for the worst but how something else came and brought a smile back to your face?

4/ CRITICAL From reading the opening pages of Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman write what you think is Mary’s most important advice to women of her time.

5/ CREATIVE Using the language of the Romantics describe the impact of nature on your life. Try to describe a particular scene in nature that you know very well.

6/ CRITICAL Write a short paragraph on your impression of some of the Romantic women we have met in the last three weeks: Mary Wollstonecraft, Dorothy Wordsworth (in text and film), Coleridge’s wife Sarah Fricker, Jane Austen. As a group do these women seem to be a hemmed in by the dominating masculine ethos of the age.

7/ CREATIVE Write a poem or a short prose piece that has been inspired by one of the literary texts that we have looked at in the last three weeks.

You might like to try the experiment of beginning your piece of writing with one of the following opening lines (this is not compulsory):

“Up! Up! My Friend, and quit your books….

“Five years have past; five summers…. (change the number as you wish)

“I could have laughed myself to scorn…

“My heart leaps up when I behold…

“It was a threatening misty morning…

“She (add name) had lived nearly twenty-one years (change number if necessary) in the world with very little to distress or vex her….

8/ CRITICAL / or CREATIVE  Remember that you can also create your own topic and remember the theme for the final ePortfolio which should underpin your blogs as a whole:


  2 comments for “Nineteenth Century Literature 2017

  1. March 14, 2017 at 5:08 pm

    Just a reminder;
    literature to sum up all weathers,
    time in it’s hootch-poch plan;
    poor Frank in all sorts of bother
    re-reading your book again.

    Wonderful information,
    love and understanding
    walking a solemn track;
    no going back
    so beautiful Webb’s verse!

    Frank and sense!

    • March 14, 2017 at 6:46 pm

      Thank you Peter- most kind! And lovely to have someone with such discrimination reading my Blog: Good wishes!!!

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