Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Last Class of Term

Assuming that the University doesn't close on Thursday, we'll have a great closing class. Shepherds' Pie, cheese, wine and laudnum .... or brandy at least, a last loving look at the glory that is Mary Shelley, and a fond reflection on early English Romanticism. We're all Canadians -- we'll be there!

As Percy Bysshe Shelly would put it, "O Snow! O Cold!" ....

Monday, November 27, 2006

Unhallowed Arts On View in Vancouver

Mary Shelley saw in a terrible nightmare "...a pale student of the unhallowed arts: " a scientist, that is, doing unholy things to the dead.

Here in Vancouver, money is made and ideology advanced by a heralded display of these unhallowed arts: a profane and exhibitionist sacrilege of flayed dead innocents -- which would have disgusted the Middle Ages -- under the commercialist title "BodyWorld 3."

Shelley's nightmare has come true.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Student Guide to William Wordsworth's "The Prelude"

William Wordsworth's magnum opus "The Prelude"

Book 1
(lines 428-441)“Wisdom and Spirit of the universe!...”Nature’s experience creates in Wordsworth a pure clean slate, not tainted by the “vulgar works of man” (line 435)Shows how the power of Nature will take him beyond those who came before.
Book 1
The Vulgar works of man -the works discussed in the book but also the works/workings of the Enlightenment – These vulgar works taint the mind by denying the emotional reaction, the “wisdom and spirit of the universe” (line 428).These vulgar works are inferior because they don’t allow the glory of Nature shine. They cage and dissect Nature instead of appreciating it as a whole

Book 2
1. 11 443-65esp. 450-65 (p.403-4)
2. -book is about preserving childhood memories perceptions
-passage is central because it explains why that process is important
->not just for an artistic purpose, but the deeper purpose that underlies art (ie. understanding)
-returns to greater powers that are manifested in childhood memories
->God, nature
3. -anticipates change of adulthood & prepares reader not to see it as negative
-reminder to keep first books in mind throughout

Book 2 & overall
L. This reiterated things I already believe about the relevance of literature to society.
A. Human thought processes are the same as natural cycles
eg: flowers start off as seed, slowly grows and develops and the dies. Our thought processis similar when we take time to think about our life or a memory.
L. I don’t know if I believe that poetic genius is an inherent trait or a product of environment, but it’s hard to disagree with Wordsworth’s reasoning & the example he embodies.
J. The text described nature the way I percieved and understood it to be

Book 3
Lines 97 -> “Oft did I leave...”to line 120 -> “...with highest truth” -he leaves the city to go to nature where he truly awakened to nature, he finds his true self and turns his mind into itself, etc.-central concepts of tranquility, truth, nature awakening, observation/reflection, etc. - Relates to Book two, around lines 479/480 when he knows there is a change but doesn’t know what it is yet until here.-at the end of this passage, he realizes that this is the step leading into a “community” and life, of the “highest truth.”-also he began the search for “universal things,” (the macrochosm), contraries and complimentaries in God and nature.

Book 3
-In the peripatetic journey, it is essential to avoid remaining idle, in order to further understanding of the world.-Like the poet, educational institutions and other urban constraints must be left to explore nature and ultimately consider/understand a higher truth (“the highest truth (l.120))-this enables the mind to be exercised to its potential.

Book 4
in context:
-Wordsworth’s wider sense of beauty in nature, as opposed to Blacks micro/macrocosm.
line 181-2= “a freshness also found at this time, In human life, the life I mean of those...”
-a precursor to the final statements of Book 13 – the mind of man giving/perceiving the beauty of nature

Book 4
(title: summer vacation->different context from modern associations->thinking back to Spring throughout Book 4->lines 121-127) of “The Prelude”
(starting line 181)
-passage begins with “freshness”, “human life”, “touched me with surprise” -> passage begins with personal reactions and moves towards universal reaction:
-generality: “pale-faced Babes”, “children of the neighborhood”, “Girls” -> no specifics, no names or associations
-line 67: “the transformation”-> reflects lines 194-6 when can see the newborn baby from the Spring transforming into a toddler stage during the Summer

Book 5
= most significant passage (p. 447) 11.532-557 -glory of youth p.447 11.532-550 slowly diminishes but can be reclaimed through books that engaged us -doubt – 11.568 What happens when old books (favourites) no longer engage our imagination? then we read great poetry or engage with nature Book -is about fear of death – and doubt -poet sleeping on shore – dream of Arab – stone – geometric truth nature threatens to reclaim all <>Book 5 = most significant passage: p.447 11.532-557 About the power of books – moments of imagination recorded in time. “As the glory of youth fades, the power of books can re-engage us with this youthful exuberance. Our favourite books can bring us back to these moments. Moments of beauty (or truth, imagination) are recorded in books and we can experience/engage them when we read. Books are therefore immortal and timeless, similar to nature’s power, in their ability to affect our minds and imagination.

Book 6:
Cambridge and the Alps: Chapter six clusters together Cambridge and the Alps, illustrating that the detached book-learning experience at Cambridge should not be taken alone, but married to sensual and social experience, (eg. the Alps). Clustered, variegated experience, acts, in Book 6, as a dialectical opposition with the more independent treatment of “Books” in Book 5. Lines 116 -134 – “Sequestered from my outward taste in books...what simplicity and sense.”

Book 7
1. Line 489-516 2. Describing how and why he is inspired to write such influential works. Development of works through experience and although he was inspired by beauty and nature, it is only in his maturity where he is able to recognize and understand the beauty. seen in: line 121 & 122 “Oh wondrous power of words” 3. Previously be explains his “independent spirit of pure youth” and in book seven this leads to his development of experience, but always, youth must come first

Book 8
-Lines 375-428; (p.498-97) -image of man against nature leas him to recognize an unconscious love and reverence of human nature -also recognizes that we find evil as fast as we find good, so how can innocence be maintained? -it was when he first looked at man through the beauty of nature, the spirit of things as truth, that he was able to reconcile the existing qualities of good/evil and find love for human kind -this realization takes the form of a peripatetic journey

Book 9
RESIDENCE IN FRANCE -Lines 192-217; pg 513-514 -Although an Englishman and stranger to France (and her ‘speech’), he was accepted by them (French military officers). -felt “shunned and not tolerated” elsewhere -> England -Although the revolutionists were uneducated, he is entranced by their passion and human connection – their simplicity, and their ability to understand the national rights of the civilians. -Listening to these Officers as poets (their stories of heroes and their deeds) creates for him, a sublime. -Criticizes class system and monarchy in England; implies that “they ought to rule” (->Revolutionists) -Wandering in a different country; accumulating the essence of Paris and the Revolution. Reasoning/Relating his life: as an Englishman/ & England (->imperialism, monarchy, class system)

Book 9
So much more can be learned through experiencing the world and its people, then sitting in a classroom and reading about it. -Wordsworth puts more worth on human nationalism rather than only French nationalism. *The importance of human connection (mind and passion)

Book 10
The passage can be read as both what W.W. loves about the Revolution ad what he hates about it. -He loves the people uniting, rising up to overcome their oppressors and their inhumane living conditions -He hates that the result of this uprising is to replace the old system with a new system, that is the exact same. This aspect of the Revolution causes W.W. to abandon his faith in the Revolution. Book 11 begins his search fro a replacement ideology.

Rather than man having to be present for nature to have beauty, we feel beauty does exist, however, for man to see it, he must use his mind (imagination) to interpret it into something beautiful for man.) Although child-like innocence is necessary for imagination to grow, Wordsworth illustrates how experience is also a necessary part of the walk

Chapter 10
(P’d to Chapter 9 of Prelude) 1. Lines 307-345 p. 540-1 -his walk through France during time of the Revolution -He sees a united people fighting for the cause of the Revolution -> sacrificed life to bring an ultimate joy and freedom 2. Line 18-35 (p. 509) Because this is England and England appears to be Wordsworth’s ideal. At the end of the passage is Wordsworth leaving for France. He is writing about a former time as if he is in the moment looking back? (By the time this chapter is written, he had already renounced his views) 3. It is Wordsworth in the moment, walking, observing life in France. He determines that life has gone awry. There is too much experience not enough innocence; nature has been disrupted. That is why at this point he supports the French Revolution.

Book 11
Shannon and Jane.
Having come to the realization that the realities of war contained little trace of the romantic notions that initially attracted Wordsworth to revolutionary France, Wordsworth admits, “I am lost.”
Here everything stops, and by looking inside himself, toward his strength in childhood, Wordsworth begins to move, this time in the direction of compassion and unity – yet weighed down by the experience of having witnessed, and been a part of, terrible things.

Book 11
Central lines (326-334) of the Prelude 2. We humans contain a reservoir of strength linked to feeling and not to Reason. For Wordsworth, this quality is mysterious, partly rooted in the experience of childhood, and involves a cyclical give and take. 3. Emerging from disillusionment (regarding the outcome of the battling in France) Wordsworth begins to place more value on nature and unity rather than the ideologies of war that involve the breaking up of territories and the division of people – all taking and no giving.

Book 12
-After the disillusionment of the French Revolution, Wordsworth finds inspiration and peace through applying peripeteia. -Example of education through meditation (of political events), and interaction with fellow man. --
Book 12
Lines 145-184 pg. 572-573 - Walking on the “public road” inspires Imagination and guides us into eternity and the unknown. The importance and relevance of peripeteia is education of mankind through personal interaction with others. Also, it gives hope, peace and steadiness to pleasure, and heals and calms negative emotions. --

Book 13

– Central passage

1. Lines 442-448
“Prophets of Nature, we to them will speak/ A lasting inspiration, sanctified/ By reason and by truth, what we have loved/ Others will love; and we may teach them how;/ Instruct them how the mind of man becomes/ A 1000x more beautiful than the earth/ On which he dwells,”

2. The Prophets of Nature are the poetic geniuses who teach others, by example, how to write poetry. This is possible because of Imagination; which is what enables the mind of man to be more beautiful than Nature. (It is the God/Creator type Imagination that is necessary.)

3. It is a conclusion statement about what good poetry is and how to get there. The preceding books lead up to this (your past leads up to your present state). It is the end of the walk through the prelude.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Science: "Plus Ultra"

This article from titled "How Science can Finally Make You Skinny" will give you, ahem, food for thought as we continue with Mary Shelley's prophesy of the consequence of the Baconian model of science.

The image here is the frontispiece to the Great Instauration of Francis, Lord Bacon ("Verulam") and emblamises his rejection of the classical tradition of accepting that the search for knowledge must be limited by our moral capacity to use the fruits of study wisely-- itself a wisdom which was summarised with the Latin tag ne plus ultra -- "not beyond the limit." Bacon's book shows the ship of knowledge sailing beyond the legendary Pillars of Hercules to the defiant call "Plus Ultra!"

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Bad Lecturer! Bad!

Apologies for not posting to update the due date for the Term Paper: now at or before midnight, December 6th -- the Wednesday -- in my Department mailbox.
The Group Project deadline is the last class of the term, Thursday November 30th.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Final Paper: Workshop on Thursday

In Seminar hour on Thursday we will have a workshop in preparation for the Term Essay. We will divide into groups of those who have and those who have not decided upon a thesis and exchange ideas and strategies. I will be providing suggestions, advice and provisional approval.

The paragraph below is the conclusion from one of our mid-term papers, and I include it here, with permission, because it shows very effectively how a concluding paragraph can broaden out from the specific thesis argued in the essay to a stimulating related point for further schoalrly research.

In this particular case, the application borders on the insolent.
Blake’s Auguries of Innocence and selections of Goethe’s writings both detail how the microcosm and the macrocosm are apparent separately but also combined in nature. As enumerated in this essay, the observation of nature connects us with not only ourselves and our perceptions, but with the divine as well. We must use our senses of sight and hearing to allow nature her luminance and voice if she is to reveal to us the true quality of the divine. This essay explicated the contextual meanings of the microcosm and the macrocosm, the divine, the particular and the general, and others to show how Blake’s and Goethe’s ideas of nature are fundamentally the same. Personally, however, the opening quadruplet of Auguries of Innocence raises even more questions: if a world is in one grain of sand, does that mean there are millions of different worlds in all the grains of sand? Similarly, if a heaven is in one flower, are there many heavens to be found in all flowers? These questions seem to cross the line into the unknown, the unanswerable. I choose to believe that once we have found our individual versions of the divine in nature ­our own personal world or heaven ­then any questions we have will become irrelevant.

New Database - Orlando: Women's Writing in the British Isles

The SFU Library is pleased to announce the acquisition of a new digital resource.
Orlando: Women's Writing in the British Isles

Orlando: Women's Writing in the British Isles from the Beginnings to the Present is a highly dynamic and rich resource for researchers, students, and readers with an interest in literature, women's writing, or cultural history more generally. With about five and a half million words of text, it is full of factual, critical, and interpreted material. This first release of Orlando includes biographical and writing career entries on over a thousand writers, more than eight hundred and fifty of them British women. It also includes selected non-British or international women writers, and British and international men, whose writing was an important, sometimes a shaping, element in a particular writing climate. Orlando also includes more than thirty thousand dated items representing events and processes (in the accounts of these writers, but also in the areas of history, science, medicine, economics, the law, and other contexts).

If you have an questions about this database please contact Kim Minkus, English Liaison Librarian at 604-291-4304 or

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Blake & Wordsworth: Smallness & Largeness

Discussing with a classfellow in an Office Hour this past week, I had my eyes opened to the counterbalacing foci of Blake & Wordsworth: the first on the small and the second on the large.

Blake is a master of intensely crafted short lyric, expemplifed for me by the Auguries of Innocence (the Songs & Innocence & Experience also, of course): "He who shall teach a child to doubt / The Rotting Grave shall ne'er get out;" and naturally the opening lyric which captivated so many of you, "To see a World in a Grain of Sand /And a Heaven in a Wild Flower / Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand / And Eternity in an hour." This latter is, correctly described as a quatrain, but it is also, I believe, a poem in itself.

Wordsworth, no need to emphasise, is master of the long and expansive lyric: the inspired wandering, most especially, of The Prelude, which has its peripateticism on an incalculable compound of levels.

So there is certainly a contrast of poetic mode -- small and large -- understanding , however, that both could, and did, succeed and delight in writing of any length & size. But what connected for me last week was the (perhps merely pedagogical) point that the two men had a focus on nature at the corresponding level. Blake was inspired by the grain of sand; Wordsworth by the Alps, the Lake District; nay, the elements themselves. And this accords with their habits, where Blake was a contented domestic in habit and Wordsworth was a great walker. Praises be.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Romantic Weather

This glorious and awe-inspiring weather today is the kind of presence of Nature that inspired the original Romantic sensibility. I hope that you are enjoying it as much as I am.

The picture here is the AQ from the fourth floor west side staircase, taken today, and reminded me of Shelley's poem:

The fitful alternations of the rain,
When the chill wind, languid as with pain
Of its own heavy moisture, here and there
Drives through the gray and beamless atmosphere.


The word "peripateticism" refers, in the manner of my useage, to a philosophy of, or philosophising whilst, walking about. It derives from the name given to the custom of Aristotle and Socrates to walk about as they talked, reflected and taught. The OED establishes a nominal and the adjectival form "peripatetic" with this quotation:

1607 T. DEKKER & J. WEBSTER West-ward Hoe II. i. sig. B3v, I was so stiffe..I would ha sworne my Legs had beene wodden pegs: a Constable new chosen kept not such a peripateticall gate.
This term is not to be confused with the noun "peripeteia" which is a coinage of Aristotle's from his Poetics, meaning the point in classical tragedy at which a sudden reversal occurs.

The Context Weblog has a captivating article on this topic here.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Wordsworth & Coleridge in film

Our media collection at the W.A.C. Bennett Library has available for loan the DVD version of the 2000 film Pandaemonium. Its director, Julian Temple, has renown among students for his work filming the lives and destruction of the Sex Pistols.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Ruskin and the Pathetic Fallacy

John Ruskin's (arch-Victorian & thus anti-Romanticist) 1856 polemic (from an invetrate polemicist) Of the Pathetic Fallacy shows him driving a wishful nail into the undead coffin of Romanticism in general & Samuel Coleridge in particular.
§ 8. The temperament which admits the pathetic fallacy, is, as I said above, that of a mind and body in some sort too weak to deal fully with what is before them or upon them; borne away, or over-clouded, or over-dazzled by emotion; and it is a more or less noble state, according to the force of the emotion which has induced it. For it is no credit to a man that he is not morbid or inaccurate in his perceptions, when he has no strength of feeling to warp them; and it is in general a sign of higher capacity and stand in the ranks of being, that the emotions should be strong enough to vanquish, partly, the intellect, and make it believe what they choose. But it is still a grander
condition when the intellect also rises, till it is strong enough to assert its rule against, or together with, the utmost efforts of the passions; and the whole man stands in an iron glow, white hot, perhaps, but still strong, and in no wise evaporating ; even if he melts, losing none of his weight.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Goya & Romantisicm

Classfellow S.Y. provides the following useful bibliographic essay in support of her presentation on Francisco de Goya's perenially well-regarded artistic vision & the Romantic movement.

The following is the address to the Art History text that was my primary source for my presentation. It also has a chapter on Blake. Nineteenth century art : a critical history -- Stephen F. Eisenman; [with contributions by] Thomas
Crow ... [et al.] London : Thames and Hudosn, c1994.
I cited another text, Gardner's Art throught the Ages in my notes. The library doesn't have it, I wouldn't recommend it anyway if one's particularly interested in Goya, it's very much a survey text. I also used the following texts from the library (primarily for images): Disasters of war : Callot, Goya, Dix ; [exhibition catalogue] /[essays by Antony Griffiths, Juliet Wilson-Bareau, John Willett]. London: South Bank Centre,
Saturn : an essay on Goya / [translated by C.W. Chilton]. New York : Phaidon Publishers ; distributed by Garden City Books, [1957]

A Rich Strike of Resource Material

I've come across a copy of Revolutions in Romantic Literature An Anthology of Print Culture,1780-1832, edited by Paul Keen - for the Table of Contents, click here. It will be a very concentrated resource for your Term Papers -- I'll put my copy on Course Reserve straightaway.

Only Four Weeks Remaining

As we turn into our final four weeks, I am reminded of that sense of sadness from summer camp in boyhood that only a short time left until the delights are concluded. I am enjoying this class very much. I hope that your peripatetic engagement with The Prelude are adding to your Romantic pleasures -- on our schedule we still have good time to learn from it and good time to bring our time to a close with the currently-popular Mary Shelley.
Our timing for our reading of the text is suspiciously provident:
It was on a dreary night of November, that I beheld the accomplishment of my toils....

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Coleridge on Critics: Perituræ parcere chartæ

I mentioned in class the review at CBC online by reviewer Katrina Onstad on the recent motion picture about our regnant Monarch Her Majesty, titled The Queen. What struck me about the review was its favourable account of Her Majesty relative to what Onstad calls "....the great, gobbling media machine:"
It’s hard to remember that Diana’s death spawned one of the first exhibitions of grief pornography, replete with an Elton John-penned theme song and fame predators like Tom Cruise and Donatella Versace jetting in for the funeral. Blair tries, with exasperation and a filial protective instinct, to explain to the Queen why private grief is outdated
I mention this because it shows what I consider the timeless relevancy of Coleridge's dissection in Biographia Literaria of this staged descent into tabloid journalism ("....sundry petty periodicals of still quicker revolution, "or weekly or diurnal:")
In times of old, books were as religious oracles; as literature advanced, they next became venerable preceptors; they then descended to the rank of instructive friends; and, as their numbers increased, they sank still lower to that of entertaining companions; and at present they seem degraded into culprits to hold up their hands at the bar of every self-elected, yet not the less peremptory, judge, who chooses to write from humour or interest, from enmity or arrogance, and to abide the decision 'of him that reads in malice, or him that reads after dinner.'
[B.L. Ch. III).

Biographia Literaria: Central Romantic Philosophy

Here are the two succinct expositions of Coleridge central conception of the romanticism philosophy from the Biographia Literaria on which I have lectured expansively over the past two weeks. These discussions are intended to provide the framework for understanding the context for the poetic creations of Coleridge & Wordsworth. If this is a help to you, well & good; if it is instead confusion, simply let it go and devise a heuristic which is efficacious for you.

[Ch. XIII] The Imagination then I consider either as primary, or secondary. The primary Imagination I hold to be the living power and prime agent of all human perception, and as a repetition in the finite mind of the eternal act of creation in the infinite I AM. The secondary Imagination I consider as an echo of the former, co-existing with the conscious will, yet still as identical with the primary in the kind of its agency, and differing only in degree, and in the mode of its operation. It dissolves, diffuses, dissipates, in order to recreate: or where this process is rendered impossible, yet still at all events it struggles to idealize and to unify. It is essentially vital, even as all objects (as objects) are essentially fixed and dead. FANCY, on the contrary, has no other counters to play with, but fixities and definites. The fancy is indeed no other than a mode of memory emancipated from the order of time and space; while it isblended with, and modified by that empirical phaenomenon of the will, which we express by the word Choice. But equally with the ordinary memory the Fancy must receive all its materials ready made from the law of association.

[Ch. V] Our various sensations, perceptions, and movements were classed as active or passive, or as media partaking of both. A still finer distinction was soonestablished between the voluntary and the spontaneous.Our inward experiences were thus arranged in three separate classes, the passive sense, or what the School-men call themerely receptive quality of the mind; the voluntary; and the spontaneous, which holds the middle place between both....

Aristotle .... admits five agents or occasioning causes: first, connection in time, whether simultaneous, preceding, or successive; second, vicinity or connection in space; third, interdependence or necessary connection, as cause and effect; fourth, likeness; and fifth, contrast. As an additional solution of the occasional seeming chasms in the continuity of reproduction he proves, that movements or ideas possessing one or the other of these five characters had passed through the mind as intermediate links, sufficiently clear to recall other parts of the same total impressions with which they had co-existed, though not vivid enough to excite that degree of attention which is requisite for distinct recollection, or as we may aptly express it, after consciousness.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Lake District: Images

The title of this post is a hotlink to a google image search of "Lake District:" you might prefer to do a search for "paintings," for examples such as shown here.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Group Projects: Status

Now that your mid-term essays are handed in, we'll look during seminar this week at the status of your group projects. It will be a good opportunity to hand in, or work up, a project overview for my commentary & approval. Further, make sure that you are working for the group that you signed yourself up for -- it would be a shame for your credit to fall elsewhere .....

From Coleridge to Wordsworth

I'm looking forward to hearing your group analyses of the pillar chapters of the majestic Biographia Literaria. I'll be posting a summary of my lectures on the essential intellectual chapters and will hopefully add some text from your in-class work.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

"Notes on Nationalism"

To follow up Tuesday's helpful class presentation on Nationalism and the Romantic movement (there is a worthwhile article on this topic, online here at the Dictionary of the History of Ideas,) I delivered a brief lecture on the concept of nationalism based upon an article that is to my mind very useful - George Orwell's 1945 essay Notes on Nationalism in which he draws the distinction between nationalism and patriotism.

Nationalism in this view is favourable attitude toward one's country (or, in the etymological definition, '‘people united by common language and culture’) turned to political action. This necessarily involves direct concern with borders. Also, invariably, though here not necessarily, nationalism leads to the belief that one's nation is superior to other nations. Patriotism, or, to coin a term, matriotism, is on the other hand a love for one's nation -- one's countryside, language, customs, people, and achievements -- that is expressed personally: through art, community participation, family or the like. *

The question arose whether nationalism implies Imperialsm. I answered that it does not. I suggest that nationalism can take one of three forms: imperialist, realist or isolationist. Imperialism is the conquest and ongoing direct rule of another nation: Rome provides the template for Imperial power. Isolationism, such as is practiced today by North Korea and formerly by pre-Meiji Japan, as its name implies tends to avoid influence from, and preferably contact with, other nations. Realism is the doctrine of interference in the affairs of other nations for the sole benefit of one's own, with neither responsibility for nor interest in the governance, welbeing -- nay, even survival -- of that nation suffering the interference.

I also suggest that it might be academically useful to distinguish imperialism from colonialism. I think that it is possible to conceive of Rome as imperial but not colonial: that is, it would conquor and govern, but rather than populate with Romans would require the conquored people to follow the laws and adminstrative regulations of Rome. This, at least, is how I read my Gibbon and my New Testament. Colonialism, in comparison, sees other nations as expansive and available land where members of their home population (perhaps, excess or unwanted population) move to live, and live according to their home nation's law. Hence, of course, colony.

(In this latter case, it might be more a matter of two different types of Imperialism than of colonialism being a seperate form of nationalism. I'd be glad to hear your thoughts.)

Let me conclude by stating my personal position in this area, to head off any possible misunderstanding; and that is that I, with Orwell, see myself as disavowing all these nationalisms and preferring patriotism ....or matriotism as the case may be.

* in this conception, military means are valid in direct defense to one's nation, as police force is valid to defend one's family from attack. With Coleridge and Wordsworth, I have come to recognise "....the Social Sense / Distending wide, and man beloved as man" as a fanciful hope of youth that once met with real experience will immediately and permanently be "....afflicted and struck down." [To William Wordsworth. Words in italics technical terms from Coleridge & Blake respectively.]

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Mid-Term Essays: Extended Office Hours

I hope that you are all well on track with your mid-term essays. I am going to hold extra Office Hours this week for any last-minute questions or discussion -- Monday October 22nd from noon to three o'clock. Best wishes!

I will, in fact, add additional Office Hours permanently after this coming week. I currently have five hours each week, with one hour every day of the week. Thinking over possible ways to accomodate everyone's schedule, it seems that if I have one day, mid-week, where there is a long block of time that goes beyond any one two-hour class I can remove that occasionally-stated reason for non-attendance.

Accordingly, I will have a three-hour Office Hour block on Wednesdays, effective November 1st, from noon to three o'clock. My Office Hours schedule with be then as follows:

Office Hours: AQ 6094 -- Tuesday 10:30-11:30; Wednesday, 12:00-14:55; Thursday 10:30-11:30, Friday 12:00-12:55. Bring your coffee and discuss course matters freely. E-mail to Please only use your SFU account for email contact. In urgencies, I may be reached on my cellular telephone at 604-250-9432

On Ken Russell ("Rime of the Ancient Mariner.")

A sound précis of the character of Ken Russell's filmmaking is found here. He is very much a British filmmaker, who has influenced genre television there substantially. He has incalculable progenecy in rock film and video -- indeed, he is chiefly known in North America for his nineteen-seventies film adaptation of The Who's "prot opera" Tommy.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Sample Mid-Term Essay

A reminder that a sample of an "A+" essay is on course Reserve

On Solitude

From classfellow J.S., here is the quotation pertinent to Coleridge from Samuel Beckett (via "Samuel Beckett and the Impossibility of Personal Meaning," A Philosophy of Boredom, Lars Svendsen, 95):
Friendship is a social expedient, like upholstery or the distribution of garbage buckets. It has no spiritual significance. For the artist, who does not deal in surfaces, the rejection of friendship is not only reasonable, but a necessity. Because the only possible spiritual development is in the sense of depth. The artistic tendency is not expansive, but a contraction. And art is the apotheosis of solitude. There is no communication because there are no vehicles of communication. Even on the rare occasions when word and gesture happen to be valid expressions of personality, they lose their significance on their passage through the cataract of the personality that is opposed to them. Either we speak and act for ourselves - in which case speech and action are distorted and emptied of their meaning by an intelligence that is not ours, or else we speak for others - in which case we speak and act a lie.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Tuesday Group Project Workshop

We'll have time set aside to work on your Group Projects in person during tomorrow's seminar (amongst other wonderful things) -- if you have any questions or would like any assistance from me, I'll be available!

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Mid-Term Deadline Extention

Yes, that's right -- I have been, shall we say, encouraged to extend the deadline for the mid-term essay until the Tuesday: that is, October 24th in class. Best wishes!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Course Reserves: Mistake

Update: Reserves listing now corrected: click here for our online reserve books.

I have found out that many of the books that I have put on course Reserve at the library are being listed under my other course this term. I have submitted a form to have this fixed, but until then, please click on this link to the Reserves list -- the titles you may find helpful will jump out at you. I'll post here directly the problem is solved.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Mid-Term Essay: Thursday Workshop

We will have a workshop during Thursday's seminar on the mid-term assignment: we'll divide into groups of classfellows according to the topic chosen and exchange ideas and set discuss strategies.

Monday, October 09, 2006

"Fighting for Goethe, Beethoven & Kant"

Clicking on the title of this post will take you to an article directed our way by the indispensable Arts & Letters Daily on the German attitude to cultured countrymen, such as our subject Goethe (dropped into the title one suspects for his star-power), during the Second World War.

On what is called American Romanticism

The group doing their project under the title "American Romanticism" will be interested in one of the background texts on Course Reserve: Anglo-American antiphony : the late romanticism of Tennyson and Emerson, by Richard E. Brantley.

The collection of books on course Reserve has been chosen to be a mix of standard & new approaches to Romanticism, with a general but not merely introductory tenor, with the odd specialty title in cases where classfellows with a certain interest may miss a specifically valuable scholarly work.

"New Romanticism" = Eighties Fashion

The URL of "Overwhelming of Bad Art & Science" (the title you may now recognise as a phrase from Blake) is a bloggy reference to the fashion trend of my youth. Romanticism endures ....

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Mid Term Essay Topics

Update: some browsers apparently could not originally display all the format in this post. Adjustments made accordingly.
Update II: the link to the syllabus now corrected: thanks to "Achillez" for the detection.

The criteria for the mid-term essay are detailed in the syllabus. The three topics are as follows. Write on one topic only.

1.] Romanticism is perfectly a literary sensibility, but with the additional quality of an active philosophy that re-visions the scientific approach to nature. Working from the opening quadruplet of Auguries of Innocence, show how Blake's system, as he called it, harmonises with Goethe's conception of scientific method.

2.] Explain Kant's category of "synthetic a priori" in terms of Coleridge's attribution of universal and necessary truth to Art.

3.] Blake depreciates and Coleridge appreciates the physical world. Reconcile these two ostensible contraries in a unified understanding of Romanticism.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

On handing in Assignments

The following circular has just been distributed to all of us from On High concerning the handing in of assignments. Note that, as specified on the syllabus, our assignments are either handed in during class or placed into my Department mailbox which is open 24/7/365.
.....procedures regarding assignments handed in outside of class. The new procedure is as follows: Department staff do not date stamp assignments handed in outside of regular class time; nor does the General Office any longer maintain a sign-in procedure for such assignments. Instructors are therefore strongly advised to have students hand in all assignments during class meeting times, or during their office hours. Please do not encourage your students to slip papers under your office door.

Quotations from "Opium" Presentation

Classfellow S.C. had quotations left over after his time was reached, and they are well worth posting:
Coleridge gave many talks as a literary critic, usually with a few drops of laudanum in his drink. An observer remarked that he "spoke so wonderfully because he was absolutely spontaneous. He would think about his subject beforehand but not about his words. He relied on his passion to inspire him. As a result his lectures were riveting to his audiences and completely terrifying to himself."
In conclusion, while seeking release from unbearable physical pain, opium turned what was a physical affliction into a mental one, plaguing his mind and shattering his character overall. In his later years he is recorded saying, "The stimulus of conversation suspends the terror that haunts my mind."

Coleridge and Avison

The lines from Canadian poet Margaret Avison that I quoted (poorly) from memory in relation to Coleridge's Apologia Pro Vita Sua are these, from "Snow" (Winter Sun):
Nobody stuffs the world in at your eyes.
The optic heart must venture: a jail-break
And re-creation.
I can't begin here to describe the excellencies of easily our greatest poet. Consider picking up some volume of hers for your indugence.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Blake's "Jerusalem": Class Result

Thanks to classfellow J.L., we have a permanent visual record of the truly impressive class analysis of Blake's major prophetic work Jerusalem. As I said at the close of the class, this is substantial scholarly endeavour by, I believe, any standard. You collectively made sense of a work that confounds many, and your work to produce a top-level overview of the design & the contents made me, Blake-like, weep for the sheer joy of it. From one of the "horses of instruction," thank-you.

Blake's "Jerusalem" - Con't

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Pictures for Mood

"Lines" and "The Eolian Harp" are, obviously, tied to a specific local landscape -- which, though indeed they transcend, they never leave. A picture of each to help set your mind on place. (Clevedon, Somersetshire, left, then Shurton Bars, Bridgewater.)

Encyclopedia Brittanica on Romanticism

The article on Romanticism at the Encyclopædia Britannica, here, is usefully succinct on some of the major aspects. A quotation:
Romanticism can be seen as a rejection of the precepts of order, calm, harmony, balance, idealization, and rationality that typified Classicism in general and late 18th-century Neoclassicism
in particular. It was also to some extent a reaction against the Enlightenment and against 18th-century rationalism and physical materialism in general. Romanticism emphasized the individual, the subjective, the irrational, the imaginative, the personal, the spontaneous, the emotional, the visionary, and the transcendental.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

" 'weep 'weep"

A Brief History of Chimney Sweeping

"Many Sweeps’ Boys were parish children or orphans, although others were sold into the trade by their families. Some grew up to be Journeymen (assistants to the Master), the remainder were put out to various trades to attempt to become skilled at other work.In London there was the London Society of Master Sweeps with its own set of rules, one of which said that boys were not required to work on Sundays but must go to Sunday School to study, and read the Bible. Conditions for the children were harsh and sometimes cruel. Some were forced to sleep in cellars on bags of soot and washing facilities rarely existed. Cancer of the testicles was a common illness amongst the boys and was contracted from the accumulated soot."

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Thursday's "Jerusalem" Student Colloquium

Tomorrow's class will begin with two indivudual presentations and an introduction to Goethe on Science, and will then move into the main event; a colloquium on Blake's Jerusalem. Of the people who do encounter Blake, including those who fall in love with his work, very few engage his prophetic books; finding them dauntingly inacessible. Well, pity them. The prophetic books are simply Blake at his fullest potency. That is to say, works like Jerusalem are read exactly like the Blake writings that we have been studying for the past three weeks.

At our Thursday colloquium, you will all put your heads together in a student-led round-table format and analyse Jerusalem in terms of the previous works: There is no natural religion and All religions are One; Auguries of Innocence; The Marriage of Heaven & Hell; and Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience. I believe that with your combinded insight and intellectual, a valid & perfectly comprehensible picture of this superlative work of literary genius will appear.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

T.S. Eliot's "Christ the Tiger"

T.S Eliot, moderist, works very directly and admiringly with Blake's The Tyger in his 1920 poem Gerontion ("old one"?) Click the title of this post for an online version. "In the juvescence of the year / Came Christ the tiger .... / Tenants of the house, / Thoughts of a dry brain in a dry season."

More to come on Blake's engraving of the tiger in the illustarted poem ....
Update: Dr. Harris mentioned during his slide-show of Blake's illustrations the non-ferocity of the tiger illustrating The Tyger from Songs of Experience. Now, there is something about the specific expression on the tiger's face that still eludes me. However, I believe that the general conception of the tiger in Blake's vision is as a children's illustration. This interpretation harmonises the poem directly with The Lamb from Songs of Innocence -- which is quite clearly child's verse, and has been universally presented as such within the Anglosphere print culture -- as part of a design for a child audience. Such as design has an impeccable literary pedigree -- Dickens & Tolstoi for two -- but is, shall we say, not currently favoured by academics.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Group Projects

We're now advanced enough in our study that we can get our Group Projects up and running. There are a full ten weeks until the deadline, and I know from the calibre evident in this class that the projects will be outstanding. I am greatly looking forward to the opportunity of studying them at the end of term.

On Tuesday we will make a list of the subjects that you favour -- mainly, as discussed, some of the Romantic poets whom we are not able to address ourselves to in detail in lecture -- and assign groups of interested scholars. The only firm criteria that I will have for the mode of your engagement is that it must be set in terms of how your subject, in specific detail, was a Romantic.

Goethe: pre-lecture

I hope you are enjoying your encounter with Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) in the form of a collection of his writings on science.

The virtue of Goethe is that he was an unchallenged universal genius -- of the calibre of Leonardo da Vinci -- and so his conception of science has supreme weight. I was very happy to have found the edition that we are using when I was putting our course together. Someone deserves our thanks for putting this compendium of salient observations into one manageable volume.