Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2018-2019 (archived)

Module ENGL41730: Romantic Forms of Grief

Department: English Studies

ENGL41730: Romantic Forms of Grief

Type Open Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Available in 2018/19 Module Cap 20


  • Students must hold a good BA degree in English or a related subject to be eligible for entry onto the MA in English Literary Studies or the MA in Romantic and Victorian Literary Studies or the MA Studies in Poetry.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • Building upon analytic and persuasive skills acquired at undergraduate level, the module will introduce students to the cultural, religious, social, and historical forces that have shaped Romantic poetry about grief. Students are expected to read in detail specified works that centre on loss, memory, death, or mourning by Romantic poets (which may include Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Smith, Byron, Hemans, Shelley, Clare, and Keats); to show advanced knowledge of critical debate; and to explore the poetic achievement of the poets studied, in part through comparison and connection between the works of these poets and their poetic treatment of grief. These objectives will be met through the requirements that students undertake appropriate reading and writing for seminars and through the assessment process (2 essays of 3,000 words, one requiring comparison between at least two of the poets studied).


  • This module discusses a wide range of Romantic poetry and its treatment of grief, for example (by Blake) Songs of Innocence and of Experience and The First Book of Urizen, (by Smith) selected Elegiac Sonnets, (by Wordsworth) ‘Simon Lee’, ‘Michael’, ‘The Thorn’ and The Ruined Cottage, (by Coleridge) ‘Dejection: An Ode’ and Conversation poems, (by Byron) Childe Harold (Cantos 3 and 4) and Manfred, (by Hemans) Properzia Rossi, ‘The Spirit’s Mysteries’, and Modern Greece, (by Shelley) Alastor and Adonais, (by Clare) ‘Graves of Infants’, ‘The Dying Child’, ‘Childhood’, ‘Decay’, and ‘Nothingness of Life’, and (by Keats) the 1820 Odes and ‘Hyperion’ fragments. Students will also need to read letters by the poets studied and a range of other relevant prose works (for example, Wordsworth’s Preface to Lyrical Ballads and Shelley’s A Defence of Poetry).

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • This module explores Romantic poets’ experimentation with poetic forms of grief by attending closely to their representation of loss, memory, death, and mourning across a variety of genres (including the ballad, sonnet, epic, elegy, fragment, romance, and ode). The module will concentrate principally on questions of poetic achievement in the work of the poets studied, and will also invite students to compare and connect works by the poets. Attention will be given to both experimentation as well as continuities in poetic tradition and uses of genre. This approach will combine advanced formal literary analysis with a specialized understanding of the various cultural, historical, religious, political, and intellectual contexts reflected in and shaping these Romantic poetic representations of grief.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Students studying this module will develop:
  • advanced critical skills in the close reading and analysis of literary texts;
  • an ability to demonstrate advanced knowledge of a chosen field of literary studies;
  • an ability to offer advanced analysis of formal and aesthetic dimensions of literature;
  • an ability to articulate and substantiate at a high level an imaginative response to literature;
  • an ability to demonstrate an advanced understanding of the cultural, intellectual, socio-political and linguistic contexts of literature;
  • an ability to articulate an advanced knowledge and understanding of conceptual or theoretical literary material;
  • an advanced command of a broad range of vocabulary and critical literary terminology.
Key Skills:
  • Students studying this module will develop:
  • an advanced ability to analyse critically;
  • an advanced ability to acquire complex information of diverse kinds in structured and systematic ways;
  • an advanced ability to interpret complex information of diverse kinds through the distinctive skills derived from the subject;
  • expertise in conventions of scholarly presentation and bibliographical skills;
  • an independence of thought and judgement, and ability to assess acutely the critical ideas of others;
  • sophisticated skills in critical reasoning; an advanced ability to handle information and argument critically;
  • a competence in information-technology skills such as word-processing and electronic data access;
  • professional organisation and time-management skills.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Students are encouraged to develop advanced conceptual abilities and analytical skills as well as the ability to communicate an advanced knowledge within seminars.
  • The capacity for advanced independent study is demonstrated through the completion of two summative pieces of work (3,000 words in length).
  • Typically, directed learning may include assigning student(s) an issue, theme or topic that can be independently or collectively explored within a framework and/or with additional materials provided by the tutor. This may function as preparatory work for presenting their ideas or findings (sometimes electronically) to their peers and tutor in the context of a seminar.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Seminars 9 Weekly in Epiphany term 2 hours 18
Independent student research supervised by the Module Convenor 10
Preparation and reading 272
Total 300

Summative Assessment

Component: Coursework Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 1 3,000 words 50%
Essay 2 3,000 words 50%

Formative Assessment:

One essay (2,000 words maximum).

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University