Schedule | Assignments | Compass Points | Bibliography (Secondary Literature) | Commentaries | Presentations
River Wye from Symond's Yat

Engl 409:B1; CLit 464:B1; CLit 630:A1

Romantic Travellers

Winter 2005
Tue/Thur 14:00-15:20
HC 2-34

David S. Miall

Department of English
University of Alberta

Office hours, HC 4-27: Tues 11:00-11:50, Fri 13:00-13:50

Naples: night scene with Vesuvius, Anon. c. 1830

River Wye from Symond's Yat
Naples: night scene with Vesuvius, Anon. c. 1830

never, never can I can forget the sensations of that moment! when with a sort of annihilation of self, with every past impression erased from my memory, I felt as if my heart were bursting with emotions too strong to be sustained. -- Helen Maria Williams, A Tour in Switzerland (1798), p. 60.

this page: Course Description | Texts Required | Schedule | Assignments | Internet Links
additional (this site): Compass Points | Bibliography (Secondary Literature) | Commentaries | Presentations

Course Description

Walking was a suspicious activity in late eighteenth-century England (gentlemen rode horses). Thus poets such as Coleridge and Wordsworth were not only innovative in the scope and extent of their walking, they were also engaging in a radical activity. In this course we will study the impact of travel on writing of the period, whether on foot, on horseback (picturesque writers adopted this mode), or by coach (as the more affluent Lord Byron preferred). The advent of Romantic writing in the 1780s and 1790s coincided with an unprecedented degree of mobility and a corresponding demand for travel literature of various kinds. When the outbreak of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic wars disrupted this, travellers turned to Britain, discovering the Lake District, Wales and Scotland. Byron and the Shelleys were among the first to resume European travel when Europe became open once more in 1814.

In addition to the poetry and journals of the poets, we will examine the impact of travel writing on Ann Radcliffe's gothic fiction, and consider several of the more influential travel writers of the period from Goethe and Gilpin to Morgan. We will also consider the equally dramatic rise in the consumption of prints and paintings during the period, such as those produced in the studios of Rudolph Ackermann. These studies will provide an opportunity to study several specific issues, depending on students' interests, such as the representation of landscape; women's travel writing; the use of other cultures and the appropriation of the foreign.

Required Texts

The following three items will be available through the SUB bookstore:

1. Duncan Wu and David S. Miall, Eds., Romanticism: An Anthology; edition with CD-ROM (Blackwell). [The CD, which is for MS Windows only, can be installed on your own computer: full installation requires 360 MB of hard disk space.]

2. Ann Radcliffe, The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794; Penguin)

3. Goethe, Italian Journey: 1786-1788 (Penguin)

Other reading provided as Internet texts, includes some required reading (see schedule) (texts edited by Miall, some with illustrations):

William Crowe, Lewesdon Hill (1788)
Ramond de Carbonnières, Travels in the Pyrenees, extracts (1789; 1813 trans.)
William Wordsworth, opening of Descriptive Sketches (1793)
William Gilpin, On Picturesque Beauty, from Three Essays (1794)
William Hazlitt, On Going a Journey (1822)
Anon., Picturesque Tour through the Oberland in The Canton of Berne, in Switzerland (Ackermann, 1823)
Samuel Rogers, Foreign Travel (1830)

Course Schedule

NB. Texts marked* will be found on the CD; otherwise they are in the anthology (page numbers are underlined), or shown as Internet links.

Tentative schedule of readings
Presentations: possible topics / links
Jan 11/13 Introductions; Compass Points (read all sections). Pre-romantic. William Crowe, Lewesdon Hill (1788); Wordsworth, opening of Descriptive Sketches (1793) (1836 edition) introduction & loco-descriptive tradition;
example analysis; uses of nature
Jan 18/20 The picturesque: Thomas Whately, Observations on Modern Gardening (1770)*; William Gilpin, On Picturesque Beauty (1794); William Gilpin, Observations on the River Wye (1771)* and Gilpin additional extracts; Wordsworth "Tintern Abbey" (1798), 265 the picturesque (class reading: print out); Tintern geography (prepared for a grad course in 2001); Miall essay; "Tintern" annotated
Jan 25/27 Goethe, Italian Journey: 1786-1788. Read chapters beginning pp. 23, 36, 179, 223, 309. Goethe, partial guide
Feb 1/3 Switzerland: William Coxe, Sketches of . . . Swisserland (1779)*; Helen Maria Williams, A Tour in Switzerland (1798)* Coxe and Williams (class reading: print!);
Instructor's notes;
Additional notes
Feb 8/10 France and Italy: Pierre Jean Grosley, New Observations on Italy (1769)*; Ramond de Carbonnières, Travels in the Pyrenees (1789)

Grosley and Ramond (print!)

Feb 15/17 Ann Radcliffe, The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794), especially Vol. I, Chs 3-6; Vol. II, Chs 1, 5; Vol. IV, Ch 12. Udolpho sources; Miall essay; Udolpho notes
Feb 22/24 Reading Week Further reading: A note on microfilm
Mar 1/3 Wordsworth's walking tours, The Prelude, The Alps: Book 6, 452-572, 389 and CD*, for 426-705; Snowdon: Book 13, 1-184, 401 Wordsworth's route: Miall; Romantic Circles; Miall essay on the Simplon. / Slovic extract
Mar 8/10 M. T. Bourrit, A Journey to the Glaciers in the Dutchy of Savoy (1775)*; Ramond de Carbonnière, Observations on the Glacieres (1781)* Bourrit and Ramond (print this for class discussion!); Bourrit notes
Mar 15/17 The Shelleys at Chamonix (from History of a Six Weeks' Tour,1817),* including "Mont Blanc," 845 Shelley letter (print); Notes
Mar 22/24 The Geneva summer, I: Byron, Childe Harold, Canto III (1816), 672; Byron's Swiss Tour (1816), journal letter* Byron's Swiss Tour (print); Childe Harold III notes
Mar 29/31 The Geneva summer, II: Anon., Picturesque Tour through the Oberland (1823); Byron, Manfred (1817), 718; Overview
Manfred, notes
Films: Summer of 1816
Apr 5/7 Mary Shelley, Frankenstein (1818), extracts (print); Abbe Lazzaro Spallanzani, Travels in the Two Sicilies (1798)*; P. B. Shelley, Letters from Rome and Naples (1818-19)*; In Italy (print); Italy photos
Apr 12/14 Lady Morgan (Sydney Owenson), Italy (1821)*; Conclusions. Take-away exam given out. Italy: comparisons; Morgan passage; The Ascent; Summary
Apr 21 14:00 am. Hand in final examination papers: HC 2-34. Examination take-away


The following work will be required:

2 short presentations, prepared as part of a group; and 2 short individual commentaries. There will also be a final take-away examination. The grades for these will be assigned as follows:

Presentations. Your work for this will be carried out collaboratively, probably as part of a group of three students; each participant will receive the same grade for the presentation. You may choose a topic indicated by the schedule, as above; or a topic that is related in some way to the reading and class discussion for that week. A presentation should consist of a coherent statement on the topic, not a set of three separate essays.

The presentation will primarily be verbal, but your group must also to provide some notes, a summary, and/or background information, preferably on a web page (otherwise a Powerpoint presentation, or a handout) so that this can be added to the main website for reference at our leisure (I will provide a link from the course page to the URL where appropriate). Dates for presentations will be negotiated early in the course. For some guidance on projects, methods of study and presentation, see the Projects section of the Romanticism CD.

Criteria for evaluation:

1) a relevant and interesting topic that genuinely illuminates the chosen texts in some way; 2) effective use of additional research, whether from the library, CD-ROM, or Internet; 3) a coherent approach that shows the project to be the outcome of productive collaboration; 4) good use of display techniques and convincing verbal presentation, that offers a persuasive perspective while showing the possibility of further questions.

Commentaries. These will be located on your personal web page for the course, if possible, or sent to me as a Word file for placing on the course webpage. A commentary may consist of (1) a comment on a recent class discussion, a group presentation (not your own!), or another student's commentary; (2) a response to the reading you are doing for the course, e.g., a travel text, a book chapter, or a journal article; (3) a spin-off from your presentation work that was not included in the presentation itself; (4) a more general observation on travel, including your own experience of travel if this seems relevant (or some other type of commentary, by arrangement). Each commentary should be about 1500 words, and prepared following MLA style guidelines (see this site for details). Further advice is available here. Commentaries are indexed on this page.

Dates for submission of commentaries are negotiable (we will discuss this during the opening class sessions), but the first must be completed by the Tuesday of Reading Week (by noon, February 22), and both commentaries must be completed and posted by April 4 (noon). A penalty of one half-grade point will be deducted from the grade for that commentary for each day after these deadlines that a commentary is late, unless evidence of some compelling personal or medical reason is provided.

N.B. Written work showing evidence of plagiarism will be awarded no marks, and the student concerned may face other penalties in addition. All term work must be completed and marked prior to the final examination. No work can accepted or reconsidered after the final examination.

Internet Links

The Voice of the Shuttle: Romanticism
Eighteenth-Century Resources (Jack Lynch)
Romantic Links, Electronic Texts and Home Pages (Michael Gamer)
Romantic Chronology (Laura Mandell, Alan Liu)
Romantic Circles
Romanticism on the Net (online journal)
North American Society for the Study of Romanticism (NASSR)
The International Conference on Romanticism
A Select Romanticism Bibliography (Nicholas Halmi)
Woman Romantic Writers (Adriana Craciun)
Corvey: Reading the Romantic Text
Romanticism on the Internet (Laura Mandell)
-- another (
Digitizing Romanticism (Neil Fraistat: discussion of digital editions of Romantic texts, art)
Place and Space: web guide and resources, Bruce B. Janz
Macfarlane, Only Connect -- on writers and landscapes (Guardian March 26 2005)

Further Reading: A note on microfilm

If you want to go beyond the extracts provided on the CD, you can often do so for books published up to 1800 by using the library's microfilm collection.

Using the library's web page, go to Databases and find your way to the English Short Title Catalogue. Search (for example) on Coxe, William as author, and you'll be able to select Coxe, then choose Sketches of the natural, civil, and political state of Swisserland (1779) -- this is the first edition. The next screen shows the full title and a list of library locations. Look down near the bottom under Notes. If the book has been microfilmed this will be noted here: this one shows as "The Eighteenth Century ; reel 1755, no. 03." This means it's available in the Rutherford library on the 2nd floor in the Eighteenth Century microfilm collection, location AC 01 0004.

For another example, look up Williams's A Tour in Switzerland (1798). You'll find several listings for this, but at least one provides a microfilm source: The Eighteenth Century ; reel 1688, no. 04. You can read the microfilm in the readers on the same floor.

return to Miall home page

Document prepared December 26th 2004 / updated April 14th 2005