This course will consider Romantic literature in the context of travel, exploration and science between the years 1768, the year Captain James Cook embarked on the most important scientific journey of the 18th century, and 1833, the year slavery was banned in the colonies. We will investigate how discourses that have come to be called Romantic arose when and how they did partly in response to scientific manipulations of explorers’ encounters with foreign places and peoples. We will discuss how, in this era, old scientific disciplines, such as astronomy and botany, were transformed, and how new ones, like craniology and comparative anatomy, were brought into being. Scientific disciplines and explorer's accounts pushed literature of the period toward new subjects, forms, and styles. Works as diverse and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Wordsworth’s Excursion, Coleridge’s “Christabel” and Keats’s sonnets, responded to explorers’ and scientists’ latest discoveries. But as much as this was an era of appropriation, it was also, as Richard Holmes and Nigel Leask argue, an age of curiosity and wonder. In examining the role of exploration and its role in science and literature, we will read a range of sources, from post-colonial critics, to philosophers, feminist theorists, historians of science, ethnographers, popular writers, and literary scholars. The course will be structured to create an environment in which all are encouraged to go beyond the limitations of their previous work.
Romantic poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge coined the term "scientist" in 1833, at a meeting of the British Association of Science held in Cambridge? Coleridge said, “Science being necessarily performed with the passion of Hope, it is Poetical.”