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Literature: Romantic Wanderers

Vak 2010-2011

Admission Requirements



Through the ubiquitous figure of the wanderer, this course traces a transatlantic thread through the long Anglo-American Romantic period, a time in which both British and American writers soared the dizzy heights of their imaginations and literally tramped across the earth. The lives of many Romantic figures from Byron to Melville, were characterized by a spirit to wander both mentally and physically, sometimes in search of inspiration, at other times in search of illumination, or even utopia. Other Romantic figures both real and fictional wandered to escape mental and/or physical constraints, or oppressive political institutions. Yet others were outcast or even cursed. These various types of Romantic Wanderer will be placed within socio-political, cultural and also religious contexts such as Alchemy, Biblical Stories and Classical Myths, Geographical Explorations, Deism and Pantheism, Political Revolution, and Transcendental Philosophy. Major themes that will organize class discussion are: mental and physical isolation, the search for community, redemption and political utopianism.
Since this is an MA course students are expected to bring a pro-active attitude into the classroom, which means preparing properly for each class by formulating critical questions and comments that will facilitate class-room discussion. Since all students on the course are in possession of a BA degree (preferably with a BA thesis on a literary topic), they are expected to have developed the proper academic skills that will allow them to find their own specific interest in the various subjects that the course will be treating and to formulate their own thesis statements for essays, and to independently conduct the necessary research using the university library’s research facilities and any other relevant sources available. Of course, the course coordinator and tutor is available to inform and guide all students through this process.

Course Objectives

By the end of the course, students should have a thorough understanding of the technical as well as thematic aspects of the primary texts assigned for reading. They should also show that they can think critically about theoretical issues such as intertextuality, the relationship between literature and religious/philosophical contexts and show that they can independently search for, find critically read and utilize secondary materials in the process of writing to literary-critical papers in which they focus on a particular aspect of the material covered in the tutorials.


The timetable will be available from July 1 onwards on the Department website.

Mode of Instruction

Two-hour seminar per week.


  • Mid-term essay (2500 words, 30%) presented according to the rules of the MLA stylesheet
  • An end-of-term research essay (5000 words, 70%) presented according to the rules of the MLA stylesheet
  • Extra credit research essay topics (5000 words, worth 5 ECTS) should also be devised by students themselves
  • Students are responsible for sticking to the deadlines in the syllabus. All papers submitted after the deadlines will be marked during the August resit period.


This course is supported by Blackboard.

Reading list

  • Several E-texts, which will be made available on Blackboard
  • Lord Byron, The Major Works (Oxford World’s Classics)
  • Mary Shelley, The Last Man (Oxford World’s Classics)
  • Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Marble Faun (Oxford World’s Classics)
  • Frederick Marryat, The Phantom Ship (Bibliobazaar)
  • Charles Maturin, Melmoth, the Wanderer (Oxford World’s Classics)
  • Herman Melville, Israel Potter (Penguin Classics)


Students can register through uSis.

Register for Contractonderwijs

Contact information

English Department, P.N. van Eyckhof 4, room 103c. Phone: 071 527 2144, or mail:


The reading material for week will be made available on the Blackboard site.