Romanticism (1750-1832), often called the Age of Revolution, overturned all kinds of traditional, conformist thinking as well as igniting revolutions in America and France. A major interest during this era were the geographical sites Romantics considered “Eastern”: Greece, India, Egypt, Jerusalem, and Syria. We will study British writers who traveled to these countries or who just wrote about them. We will take up ways that these authors challenged and sometimes reconfirmed conventional gender constructions, social hierarchies, slavery, women’s rights, and tyranny. We will study ideas such as imperialism, colonialism, the sublime, the gothic, and connections to and interactions with the natural world. Possible 19th-century texts include Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Percy Shelley’s The Revolt of Islam, Peacock’s Palmyra, Byron’s Giaour and the travel writings of Hester Stanhope. We will also be looking at a lot of visual images: 18th and 19th-century paintings and photographs.

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