Eat, Look, Go:
Romanticism, Aestheticism, and the Sensualism of Travel
232, M 4-6:45pm (Fall 2011)
The newly-established restaurant
quickly became the preferred meeting place where critics, poets,
artists, authors of the British Romantic Era discussed aesthetic
standards. Then, they travelled abroad on the Grand Tour to discover
the gustatory delights of foreign lands. Some returned from exotic
locales with opium-induced, waking nightmares. Others indulged in
dinner, opera, and artwork. Denise Gigante attributes this zest for
taste to a quest for pleasure, a state of mind that the Romantics
decidedly embraced. During the semester, we will read through, look
at, map, and visualize the journey of the Romantic literary “(Wo)Man
of Taste” through canonical and non-canonical authors alike,
including Dorothy and William Wordsworth, Mary and Percy Shelley,
Coleridge, DeQuincy, Wollstonecraft, Byron, Keats, Clare, Hogg, with
quite a bit of visual pleasure included from Gilpin, Combe,
Rowlandson, and Blake – all to reveal the relationship between
aesthetic taste and appetite in Britain 1770-1837.
Our discussions will be governed by Denise Gigante's theories of gustatory pleasures and supported by readings on the sublime, picturesque, and beautiful early in the semester -- in turn, leading us into the establishment of physical gustatory pleasures of taste in contrast against artistic definitions of literary taste. After an initial meeting in which we crowd-sourced what the students want to read, the schedule came together with primarily non-fiction essays and Shelley's Frankenstein as the pinnacle of our travel rewards. (Though some requested lots of Blake, some Charlotte Smith sonnet sequences, I couldn't quite get them to fit into our theme.) Our final days will be spent reading actual gourmands who were writing during the Romantic period -- most definitely authors outside our canonical Big 6.
The initial description and title for this graduate course were crowd-sourced via my Twitter community, made up of Romanticists and Digital Humanists, as well as the grand community of former NEH participants in Summer 2010. As the semester moves along, I will regularly post to Teaching Romanticism: A Romantic Circles Pedagogy Blog, since that community was also helpful in crafting this course.
Since Digital Humanities and interesting digital projects are part of my work, I queried the students about introducing a mapping project similar to the project described in Erin Sells’ article on ProfHack/Chronicle of Higher Education about “Mapping Novels with GoogleEarth.” I couldn't obtain adequate computer lab time to create a mapping project for our class, but I left a single day open to see if we could make it happen. That project will collaborative and class-driving; I'm not even sure it will be graded. This is another area that I'd like to leave open to the course participants to discuss/decide. In any event, the mapping project (say of The Grand Tour by Mary Wollstonecraft, Wordsworth, or the Shelleys) would be really incredible to visualize. Also, these are teachers and teachers-in-training. Giving them permission to be creative and then providing them with the skills to take these kinds of projects to their students is the real-world kind of skills that I believe our program should be offering our students.
...and with that....please enjoy our selections!
Dr. Katherine D. Harris
Last updated: 11/15/2011 08:32 AM