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Fall 2016-2017
ENG 553   No Pass/D/Fail

Special Studies in the Nineteenth Century - Poetry: From Phantasmagoria to Photography

Isobel M. Armstrong

This course is about the poetics of the lens and the mirror and their immanent presence in Romantic and Victorian poetry by men and women. The optical culture created by lens-made technologies developed from the late Enlightenment onwards saw the "high" science of the telescope and the microscope migrate to the popular screen images of the phantasmagoria, diorama, panorama, kaleidoscope and a host of optical toys exploiting visual ambiguities. Technologies of the lens and the mirror, from the phantasmagoria to photography, from astronomy to the magic lantern, had repercussions across aesthetics and politics.

Sample reading list:
Tom Gunning, The Logn and Short of It
Sophie Thomas, Romanticism and Visuality
Barbara Maria Stafford, Devices of Wonder
Laurent Mannoni, The Great Art of Projecting Shadow
David Brewster, Letters on Natural Magic
Immanuel Kant, Natural History and Theory of the Heavens

Reading/Writing assignments:
Indicative Booklist: modern critical analyses of optical culture, long 19thC optics (Brewster), astronomy (Kant). Texts and documents difficult of access will be given as handouts. Familiar poems can be accessed easily.

Other (See Instructor) - 100%

Other Requirements:
Open to Graduate Students Only.

Prerequisites and Restrictions:
First meeting of this seminar will be held on Tuesday, September 20, 2016..

Other information:
You will need to be excited about reading the documents of another century's virtual culture and curious about what happens when these are juxtaposed with poetic texts. Rather than seeing them as illustrations of one another a curiosity about the many ways poets assimilated the implications of visual culture (eg Shelley, the phantasmagoria, Tennyson, astronomy) will be helpful. Look at Gunning's article, Thomas or Stafford.

Schedule/Classroom assignment:

Class numberSectionTimeDaysRoomEnrollmentStatus
23192 S01 09:00:00 am - 11:50:00 am T   McCormick Hall   272   Enrolled:5 Limit:12