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One way of making connections among various authors in a survey course is to emphasize recurring themes, images, and tropes; the instructor can point out how they are transformed by a constantly changing ethos and set of historical circumstances. A case in point is the second part of a British survey, typically going from William Blake or William Wordsworth through the writers of the first few decades of the 20th century. Wordsworth is so central to the evolution of poetry during these years that several of his major themes and images can provide reference points for students as the course progresses. These Wordsworthian features either recur or are implicitly rejected in much of the literature that follows him. Some examples are his concepts of the unity of nature and humankind, and of nature as an essentially benevolent teacher and nurturer. Students may be introduced to some of the Wordsworth's basic attitudes towards nature in a few of his more approachable poems from "Lyrical Ballads," such as "Lines Written in Early Spring,""Expostulations and Reply," and "The Tables Turned." He elaborates on his ideas in more difficult works, such as "Tintern Abbey," the "Immortality" ode, and "It is a Beauteous Evening." Once students become comfortable with Wordsworth, the course may go on to present contrasts through the poetry of Robert Browning ("Childe Roland") and Christina Rossetti ("Cobwebs") and through the fiction of Emily Bronte ("Wuthering Heights"), Thomas Hardy ("Return of the Native" and "Tess of the d'Urbervilles"), and Charles Dickens ("Hard Times"). (TB)

Descriptors: English Literature, Higher Education, Introductory Courses, Literary Criticism, Literature Appreciation, Nineteenth Century Literature, Romanticism, Twentieth Century Literature, Undergraduate Students

Autor: Dodson, Charles B.


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