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2018/19 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

ENGL3231 The Poetry of Wordsworth

20 creditsClass Size: 20


Module manager: Dr Ian Fairley

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2018/19

This module is not approved as a discovery module


To read the poetry of William Wordsworth in its cultural and historical context.
To explore Wordsworth’s thinking about poetry and to evaluate its legacy.
To engage with significant literary-critical responses to Wordsworth.

Learning outcomes
Knowledge of significant poetry and prose by William Wordsworth written between the late 1790s and the publication of his first collected Poems in 1815.

Understanding of key critical responses to Wordsworth from the poet’s day to our own.

Experience of reading Wordsworth closely ad contextually.

Skills outcomes
Skills for effective communication, oral and written.
Capacity to analyse and critically examine diverse forms of discourse.
Ability to acquire quantities of complex information of diverse kinds in a structured and systematic way.
Capacity for independent thought and judgement.
Critical reasoning.
Research skills, including information retrieval skills, the organisation of material, and the evaluation of its importance.
IT skills.
Time management and organisational skills.
Independent learning.


‘Words are not a mere vehicle, but they are powers either to kill or to animate’ (Wordsworth)

This module will make possible an intensive and extensive reading of the poetry of William Wordsworth (1770-1850). Coleridge said of Wordsworth that ‘in imaginative power, he stands nearest of all modern writers to Shakespeare and Milton; and yet in a kind perfectly unborrowed, and his own’. It is our purpose to explore that imaginative power with special attention to the poems gathered in successive editions of Lyrical Ballads, first issued in 1798, and to the autobiographical thirteen-book Prelude completed in 1805.

Among the most compelling aspects of Wordsworth’s verse is its way of giving voice to the interdependence of language, consciousness and experience; this is a poetry in which ‘words are not a mere vehicle, but … are powers either to kill or animate’. Seminars will be devoted to close reading of the verse and to investigation of the poetics formulated in Wordsworth’s Preface to Lyrical Ballads and other prose writings. We shall consider his work in certain of its social, political and philosophical contexts, thinking about Wordsworth as a poet of nation and region, and considering his part in the formation of Romantic and modern aesthetic sensibility. This enquiry will be informed by engagement with significant critical responses to Wordsworth from his day to our own.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours185.00
Total Contact hours15.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Seminar preparation, reading, essay writing

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

- Contribution to seminars
- 1700 word essay

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay1700 words33.30
Essay2750 words66.70
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 30/04/2018


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