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 ogden@sfu.ca 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.