When we think of the Romantic poets six male names spring to mind – Wordsworth, Coleridge, Blake, Shelley, Byron and Keats and most of us can probably recite one or two lines, if not an entire poem that sprung from the pens of these inimitable poets. Yet are we as familiar with the many female poets who were publishing at the same time? In this course we will examine an alternative group of poets and writers, a female ‘Big Six’ if you like, consisting of Felicia Dorothea Hemans, Anna Laetitia Barbauld, Charlotte Turner Smith, Mary Robinson, Hannah More and Dorothy Wordsworth. Through shared reading and discussions of some of the poems written by these women we will investigate how they engaged with themes such as the Romantic era’s concern with social outsiders and individual freedom; the re-evaluation of nature; the developments in scientific knowledge; and their concern for social justice.
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