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ENG 242 - British Literature II: Welcome

This course covers selected works in British literature from the Romantic Period to the present. Emphasis is placed on historical background, cultural context, and literary analysis of selected prose, poetry, and drama.

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Films on Demand - Blake, Carroll, Cummings, and Tennyson

British Literature

English 242 investigates British Literature from 1750 to the twentieth century.  This span includes the following periods:

  • The Age of Enlightenment (1650-1800)
  • The Romantic & Regency Eras (1800-1850)
  • The Victorian Era (1837-1901)
  • The Twentieth Century

The Age of Enlightenment (1650 - 1800)

"The Enlightenment was an era in the history of ideas, marked by the prevalence of a common, critical approach based on reason and experience, that is believed to have permeated various facets of society, including education, natural philosophy, and political thought." From Britain and the Americas: Culture, Politics, and History available to RCCC students trough Credo Reference.

The Romantic & Regency Eras (1800-1850)

[Exceprt takent from The Norton Anthology of English Literature Online] Writers working in the time period from 1785 to 1830 did not think of themselves as “Romantics,” but were seen to belong to a number of distinct movements or schools.  For much of the twentieth century scholars singled out five poets—Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron, Percy Shelley, and Keats—and constructed a unified concept of Romanticism on the basis of their works.  Some of the best regarded poets of the time were in fact women, including Anna Barbauld, Charlotte Smith, and Mary Robinson.  Yet educated women were targets of masculine scorn, and the radical feminism of a figure like Mary Wollstonecraft remained exceptional.

The Victorian Era (1837-1901)

[Exceprt takent from The Norton Anthology of English Literature Online] The Victorian era was a period of dramatic change that brought England to its highest point of development as a world power. The rapid growth of London, from a population of 2 million when Victoria came to the throne to one of 6.5 million by the time of Victoria's death, indicates the dramatic transition from a way of life based on the ownership of land to a modern urban economy. England experienced an enormous increase in wealth, but rapid and unregulated industrialization brought a host of social and economic problems.  Some writers such as Thomas Babbington Macauley applauded England’s progress, while others such as Mathew Arnold felt the abandonment of traditional rhythms of life exacted a terrible price in human happiness.

 
The Twentieth Century

[Exceprt takent from The Norton Anthology of English Literature Online] The roots of modern literature are in the late nineteenth century. Rejecting Victorian notions of the artist’s moral duty, the aesthetic movement widened the bread between writers and the general public. The “alienation” of the artist underlies key works of modernism. The last decades of Victoria’s reign also saw the emergence of a mass literate population. Modernity disrupted the old order, casting into doubt previously stable assumptions about the self, community, and the divine. Freud’s psychoanalysis changed understandings of rationality and personal development. As the influence of organized religion weakened, many writers looked to literature as an alternative.

Subject Guide

Laurie Robb's picture
Laurie Robb
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