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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures : English Literature

Postgraduate Course: The Reign of Terror: Fear and Loathing in Romantic Literature (ENLI11126)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Literatures, Languages and Cultures CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course explores literature of the Romantic period (1790-1830) in Britain in relation to the aesthetics and politics of 'terror.'

*This course is taught jointly with undergraduate students and consequently postgraduate places are limited
Course description This course concentrates mainly on the relationship between the aesthetic category of the sublime and the political climate of fear created by the Reign of Terror in France in the mid-1790s and intensified by the revolutionary wars in Europe. The course explores how ideas and perceptions of terror fed into romantic literature, and how romantic literature in turn helped to reshape notions of fear. Through reading primary texts and examining contemporary images (such as paintings, engravings, and magazine illustrations) students will develop an enhanced understanding of the connections between the romantic language of terror and other topics, including millenarianism, anti-jacobinism, spectatorship, codes of visuality, prophecy, pantheism, materiality, subjectivity, friendship, domesticity, the Gothic, the body, imagination, sexuality, and liminality. The course will begin with an introductory session outlining the main themes and writers on the course, and close with a seminar addressing the relevance of notions of terror and the sublime to (post)modern culture and society.

Seminar Schedule

Week 1 Introduction: Fear and Loathing in Romantic Literature: theory, examples, introduction to main themes

Week 2 The Sublime Spectacle: Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790, excerpts) and Philosophical Inquiry into the Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and the Beautiful (1759)

Week 3 Apocalypse Now: Blake, The visions of the Daughters of Albion (1793) and The book of Urizen (1794)

Week 4 Perils of Consciousness: Wordsworth, The Prelude (1805, excerpts)

Week 5 Fears in Solitude: Coleridge, 'Frost at Midnight'; 'France: An Ode'; 'Fears in Solitude' (1798) Lamb, 'Witches, and Other Night Fears' (1821)

Week 6 Gothic Terror: Radcliffe, The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794)

Week 7 Gothic Horror: Lewis, The Monk (1795)


Week 9 The Revolting Body: Mary Shelley, Frankenstein (1818)

Week 10 The Material Sublime: Percy Shelley, 'Ode to The West Wind'; 'Ozymandais'; 'England in 1819'; 'The Triumph of Life' (1822)

Week 11 Conclusion. The Postmodern Sublime and Beyond: Lyotard, Baudrillard, Zizek (extracts provided).
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Additional Costs Essential course texts.
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2020/21, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  3
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 196 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) One 4,000 word essay to be submitted as specified in the programme handbook or by the supervisor
Feedback The formative assessment exercise requires students to submit an essay plan and indicative bibliography (approx. 1000 words) four weeks before the submission of their summative assessment exercise. Formative feedback is given to students at least one week in advance of their summative assessment exercise for the course.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. An understanding of the cultural significance of literature 1790-1830;
  2. An understanding of the historical origins and constructions of the notions of terror and the sublime.
  3. An understanding of the historical and theoretical relationships between images and texts
  4. An enhanced ability to think critically and historically about key cultural and political ideas
  5. An improved ability to develop and sustain intellectual arguments in essay form.
Reading List
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Special Arrangements Jointly taught with undergraduate students ENLI10315
Additional Class Delivery Information 1 hour(s) per week for 10 week(s).
Course organiserDr Tim Milnes
Tel: (0131 6)50 3615
Course secretaryMiss Kara McCormack
Tel: (0131 6)50 3030
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