Jan 13 2010

Stefanie Krüger

Task for session 12 – Thoreau and Hawthorne

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As I already told you in our session I want to build the blog task for our next session on your comments to th last blog task. So, if you decide to write something for this blog entry (some fo you will have to do so in order to have all the necessary blog entries whereas others have a bit more clearance) please have a look at my comments to your entries from the last blog task. I came up with some new questions in connection to what you wrote about Thoreau’s quotations. Answer those questions.

For all of you who did not participate in the last blog task or whose entries were not valid please answer one of the following two questions concerning Hawthorne’s story “The Artist of the Beautiful”.

1) What is the aim of artistry? In how far does owen Warland succeed to achieve that aim and in how far is Peter Hovenden presented as an antagonist of Owen on his way to achieving it?

2) Give a detailed analysis of the character of Owen Warland and Peter Hovenden and compare them to Emerson’s and Thoreau’s ideas of the nature of the poet and his counterpart.

21 responses so far

Jan 05 2010

Stefanie Krüger

Task for Session 11 – Emerson and Thoreau

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Like Emerson, Thoreau’s style is interspersed with aphorisms, sentences and phrases which can stand on their own. Here are some of them. Choose one and explain what it means (in order to help you a bit I give you the corresponding page from the Dover Thrift edition of Walden). Please make sure that no more than two students choose the same aphorism. I will try to scratch out those that are already taken. Work with the text and with what you know so far.

What a man thinks of himself, that it is which determines, or rather indicates, his fate. (4)

It is never too late to give up our prejudices. (5)

All men want, not something to do with, but something to do, or rather something to be. (14-5)

I had three pieces of limestone on my desk, but I was terrified to find that they required to be dusted daily, when the furniture of my mind was all undusted still, and I threw them out the window in disgust. (23)

The civilized man is a more experienced and wiser savage. (26).

Our inventions are wont to be pretty toys, which distract our attention from serious things. They are but improved means to an unimproved end, an end which it was already but too easy to arrive at; (33)

Man thus not only works for the animal within him, but, for a symbol of this, he works for the animal without  him. (37)

I never dreamed of any enormity greater than I have committed. I never knew, and never shall know, a worse man than myself. (51)

Morning is when I am awake and there is a dawn in me. Moral reform is the effort to throw off sleep. (58)

To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts. (59)

To be awake is to be alive. I have never yet met a man who was quite awake. How could I have looked him in the face? (59)

Time is a but the stream I go a-fishing in. (64)

28 responses so far

Dec 15 2009

Stefanie Krüger

Task for Session 10 – Emerson

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In our first session after Christmas we are going to discuss one of the most important American writers in history: Ralph Waldo Emerson. As I asked you today please read the extract from his Essay “Nature” and “The American Scholar” (you are, of course, welcome to find out more about Emerson besides reading the two essays). Here are several questions concerning the two texts of which you may choose one to answer. (Try to really work with the texts in front of you, quote them if necessary and, most importantly, quote them according to the MLA standard.)

Concerning Emerson’s essay “Nature” what is the image of man created?

Why is solitude necessary? (You may also include Thoreau’s idea of solitude.)

What is nature according to Emerson and how is it best perceived/experienced?

Who is the “American Scholar”? What constitutes him? And what is the difference to a scholar in general?

What does Emerson mean by “Man Thinking”?

What is Emerson’s perception of Man?

In how far are the principles of Transcendentalism mirrored in Emerson’s essays?

Please feel free to react on blog entries by your fellow students. This blog task is, of course, not due until next week but until before our first session after Christmas (that sounds weird, but I’m sure you know what I mean).

24 responses so far

Dec 08 2009

Stefanie Krüger

Task for session 9

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For our next blog task we will make it easy (because it’s Christmas and nobody likes working around Christmas). You may choose to answer one of the following questions:

What does Washington Irving want to tell us with his story “Rip van Winkle”?

Why does the protagonist have such a strange name?

What does the mysterious Diedrich Knickerbocker have to do with the story and why may Irving have chosen this personality?

In how far is American Romanticism different from British Romanticism and how is that reflected in Washington Irving’s story?

Another famous story of Irving is “Sleepy Hollow” which you probably know in the movie version with Johnny Depp. In how far is Sleepy Hollow particularly American?


25 responses so far

Dec 01 2009

Stefanie Krüger

Task for Session 8

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For our next session I already asked you to think about the question what Winnie-the-Pooh has to do with Romantic literature for children or Romanticism in general. As we will deal with the question in more detail next Tuesday there again are some terms, names and phrases which need to be clarified and which you should be able to present in our seminar (some of you, very wisely, have been prepared for this today – thanks a lot for that, as it makes our work during the sminar so much easier). Here are the questions for this task. Please pay attention that not more than two students comment on one term/name.

A.A. Milne

Louisa May Alcott

Bronson Alcott

Little Women

What is children’s literature (in general)?

childhhood during the Romantic movement

Charles Lamb and children

William Wordsworth’s idea of childhood

William Blake’s image of children

Rousseau and the “new child”

children’s literature during the Romantic movement

fairy tales and folktales

28 responses so far

Nov 24 2009

Stefanie Krüger

Task for Session 7

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I really liked  the way the blog enries worked last time. As we will be talking about the Gothic in our next session I think it will be the best thing to again give you some direct tasks to work with. Like in our previous blog task not more than two students should work on one task/term/name, etc.

There are several approaches and facts about Gothic writings which you should know in order to work with it. Please clarifiy the following terms or give us some facts about the following personalities and their ideas and theories (where necessary I have given some additional information). Again, mind your sources!

  • Edmund Burke and the Sublime (find some information about A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origins of Our Ideas of the Sublime and the Beautiful. What does it have to do with the Gothic?)
  • Julia Kristeva and the theory of abjection (for further information also have a look at The Powers of Horror by Kristeva)
  • Sigmund Freud and the idea of the uncanny
  • Horace Walpole and the definition of the Gothic (What did he say the Gothic is? For further information look at the preface to the second edition to The Castle of Otranto)
  • The Castle of Otranto and the gothic set piece (What is the characteristic gothic set piece of Walpole’s story?)
  • Frankenstein and the theory of abjection (apply Kristeva’s theory to Mary Shelley’s famous story)
  • Romanticism and the Gothic (Why were gothic writings so famous during the Romantic movement? Which other examples of Gothic writing from the Romantic period do you know?)
  • Romanticism and the Gothic (Why was the Gothic not very popular with many Romantic writers, like Wordsworth? What was the criticism against the Gothic during the Romantic movement?)
  • Edgar Allan Poe and the Gothic (Even though we haven’t yet dealt with Poe and other American authors what was his influence on Gothic writing?)
  • British Gothic (What were features of British Gothic? Who were the most prominent Gothic writers during the Romantic movement in America?)
  • American Gothic (What were features of American Gothic? Who were the most prominent Gothic writers during the Romantic movement in America?
  • Charles Brockdon Brown and Wieland

23 responses so far

Nov 18 2009

Stefanie Krüger

Task for Session 6

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As I already told the remaining group of students last time, I  decided to not give you a power point presentation on the authors and topics we’re working with right now (at least I will not give them to you now, maybe later). I think this takes too much out of the seminar and leaves nothing for you. So in order not to be that selfish I think that you can give us some info concerning authors and topics. Thus for our next session please inform us about one of the following names or terms. Take care that not more than two students work on one term/name. There is enough for everone. And especially when it comes to giving facts: Mind your sources!!

William Wordsworth

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Lord Byron

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

Percy Bysshe Shelley

the Gothic

Dark Romanticism


first and second generation of Romantic writers


28 responses so far

Nov 11 2009

Stefanie Krüger

Bright Star – Movie on John Keats

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There is a new movie coming up about John Keats, entitled like one of his most beautiful poems: Bright Star. As we will not be working with Keats I suggest you watch the movie.

Here’s the trailer:


No responses yet

Nov 11 2009

Stefanie Krüger

Task for Session 5

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As we are still dealing with some female writers of the Romantic movement I would like to read some more comments about them. We already had a good discussion about the role the blues played in the 18th century and about the question whether they really were influential as female writers or as female partcipants of upper-class society and representatives of virtuous femininity.  I again quote Deidre Shauna Lynch,

“Indeed it is an open question whether this revolution in manners wrought by polite heterosociability ascribes cultural advance to admirable women or whether it ascribes it instead to gallant men‘s capacity to admire.“

In how far is the ambiguous role of the blues reflected in this comment? What can we conclude from it concerning the role of men and women at the end of the 18th century? And how was this very short-lived movement perceived by later females (for example during the Victorian era or during the feminist movements in the 60s and 70s)?

In our next session we will also start working with one of the most famous Romantic writers, William Wordsworth. One of his most important works was Lyrical Ballads which was cowritten with Samuel Taylor Coleridge. What is already striking about this work is the title. It combines two very different kinds of writing. What is so strange about this combination and why would Wordsworth use it to express what? How is his approach to poetry and poetic aesthetics mirrored in his poems (for example in “Lines Written a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey”) ? And, above all: What does Wordsworth mean when he writes in his Preface to the 1802 edition of Lyrical Ballads:
„Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility: the emotion is contemplated till by a species of reaction the tranquility disappears, and an emotion, kindred to that which was before the subject of contemplation, is graduallly produced,
and does itself actually exist in the mind.“

Try to relate this quote to what we have learned and talked about so far about the Romantic movement, for example it being a Revolution as re-volving back in time or as a Revolution against the Industrial Revolution.

Take care what sources you’re using!

24 responses so far

Nov 05 2009

Stefanie Krüger

Task for Session 4

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As I already announced in my last entries I will try to formulate more questions so that not all of you have to answer the same thing.

In our last two sessions we talked about the influences and historical backgrounds to Romanticism and due to our lack of time and the number of students there still are many things which need to be reconsidered.

We touched upon the terminologies of the sublime, the beautiful, and the picturesque and the following quote by Thomas Cole gives you an idea of the sublime as it is invoked in the author watching Niagara Falls.

Thomas Cole in “Essay on American Scenery”: “In gazing on [Niagara Falls], we feel as though a great void had been filled in our minds – our conceptions expand – we become a part of what we behold! At our feet the floods of a thousand rivers are poured out – the contents of vast inland seas. In its volume we conceive immensity; in its course, everlasting duration; in its impetuosity, uncontrollable power. These are the elements of its sublimity.” (quoted by Foster, 14-5)

How does Cole manage to establish sublimity in this quote? What is sublimity according to his perception? And can you find examples by other Romantic writers concerning the sublime, the beautiful or the picturesque? Name them and their quotations and try to compare their approach to these concepts with that by Cole, Burke, and Kant (whom we talked about in our seminar).

Additionally, the following quote by Perry Miller offers us an example of criticism on the above named terms.

Perry Miller (“Nature and the National Ego”, “The Romantic Dilemma in American Nationalism and the Concept of Nature”): “The sublimity of the natural backdrop not only relieved us of having to apologize for a deficiency of picturesque ruins and hoary legends: It demonstrated how the vast reservoirs of our august temple furnish the guarantee that we shall never be contaminated by artificiality.” (quoted by Foster, xii)

What does Miller mean by “the sublimity of the natural backrop” and “august temple”? And why would America be saved from artificiality? Isn’t this a contradictory statement considering the fact that picturesque landscape painting was extremely popular during the Romantic movement? What does the picturesque have in common with painting and why would William Gilpin argue that the picturesque is ‘that peculiar kind of beauty which is agreeable in a picture’ (Gilpin quoted by Trott) ?

As we will be talking about William Blake in our next session I will concentrate on the female Romantic writers. I already asked you to find out what the term “bluestocking” means. How can this be applied to the female authors of Romanticism? Who were the so-called “nine living muses of great Britain”? Where does this term come from? And how did these women influence Romantic thinking? Or did they influence it at all? Particularly during an epoch like Romanticism the question occurs as to the appreciation of female writing.


Foster, Edward Halsey. The Civilized Wilderness. NY: The Free Press, 1975.

Trott, Nicola. “The Picturesque, the Beautiful and the Sublime.” A Companion to Romanticism. Wu, Duncan (ed). Blackwell Publishing, 1999. Blackwell Reference Online. 25 August 2009 http://www.blackwellreference.com/subscriber/tocnode?id=g9780631198529_chunk_g97806311985299

Besides: Try to upload you entries a little earlier than the date they are due so that I have enough time to comment on them. Again: Chose only one aspect of the set of questions and try to react on the blog entries of your fellow bloggers.

24 responses so far

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