Duke University Press
Harriet Kramer Linkin - How It Is: Teaching Women's Poetry in British Romanticism Classes - Pedagogy 1:1 Pedagogy 1.1 (2001) 91-115

How It Is:
Teaching Women's Poetry in British Romanticism Classes

Harriet Kramer Linkin

What I can say about my experience teaching Romantic women writers is that every time I do it I seem to flip-flop between wanting to stress their difference from the canonical men poets and wanting to stress their similarities.

--Adela Pinch

Class discussion is more full of surprises and arguments, awkwardness and breakthroughs, than it has been since my days of graduate school teaching. Here's hoping the dust won't settle for a long time.

--Alan Richardson


Anyone interested in learning about the state of pedagogy in British Romanticism today should be prepared to hear about a field in greater and more exhilarating flux than it has been for decades, primarily because of the massive infusion of Romantic-era women poets into the canon and the classroom. At least I think so, but I'm biased. In 1989, I surveyed institutions of higher learning in the United States to find out what readings other Romanticism instructors assigned in their courses (Linkin 1991). I wanted to see whether feminist, historicist, and archival research on the work of Romantic-era women writers informed the day-to-day canon promulgated in the classroom, in light of that time's startling rediscovery of the many gifted women poets who achieved literary success during the Romantic period. 1 The canon I [End Page 91] studied in college and graduate school during the 1970s and 1980s focused on the six major male Romantic poets: William Blake, William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and John Keats. That canon still ruled the conventional forums that measured what counted as Romanticism in 1989 (for instance, the Modern Language Association [MLA] annotated bibliography of The English Romantic Poets, edited by Frank Jordan, or the Norton Anthology of English Literature, edited by M. H. Abrams). Because I thought the classroom offered as significant a place as any for measuring what counted as canonical, I asked survey respondents to list the names of the Romantic-era writers whose works they taught. While my survey results verified the dominance of the big six, they also demonstrated the inclusion of more Romantic-era women writers than expected, largely prose writers with a small but potent group of poets. 2

As the 1990s progressed, enthusiasm increased for bringing the work of Romantic-era women poets into the classroom, evidenced at conferences, in scholarship, in new or revised editions and anthologies, and in the set of responses Stephen Behrendt and I (1997) received to our 1994 preliminary survey of instructors for the MLA Approaches to Teaching British Women Poets of the Romantic Period volume. 3 For many survey participants--and their students--the inclusion of women's poetry made the study of Romanticism more dynamic. As Nanora Sweet remarked, "These poets help make the study of Romantic literature a conversation again and not an exercise in worshipful piety. . . . [I] model my approach and my pedagogy on contention, conversation, and dialogue. Somehow, just 'adding' women poets to the Romanticism syllabus helps to make all the writers into people and not icons--people, that is, with interests and intentions and contentions." Catherine Burroughs observed how "students are interested in the fact that while many of these poets were extraordinarily popular during the Romantic period, the students themselves have usually not heard of the women they are reading. As a result, they delight in what seems to them a special 'discovery.'" Deborah Kennedy reported that her students "visibly perk up when we get to a text by a woman." And Elizabeth Fay noted how "discovering these women poets has been eye-opening because suddenly a male poet who I'd always thought had invented something out of thin air turns out to be writing within a well-established tradition." Survey participants expressed delight with the process of discovery they witnessed and experienced in Romanticism classes that included work by women poets, but they also shared common concerns about the dificulties including women poets posed: insuficient access to primary and secondary texts; the need for critical, historical, cultural, aesthetic, [End Page 92] and pedagogical contexts to facilitate informed inclusion; and the simple wish for more time to cover more material.

Since 1994, the greater availability of teaching materials and critical contexts alleviates some of the dificulties instructors identified; but then as now, we all need more time. 4 What else do we need? What else do we want? What opportunities and problems emerge from the Romanticism classroom that includes women's poetry? What are we learning about the process of teaching a British Romantic era that includes women poets? When Pedagogy offered this chance to describe the current positioning of Romantic-era women poets in the classroom, I wanted to extend that opportunity to an actual rather than hypothetical "we." In October 1997, I e-mailed the following invitation to twenty-six registered members of NASSR (the North American Society for the Study of Romanticism) who declared a research and teaching interest in Romantic-era women poets in the organization's annual directory:

I have been asked by the editors of Pedagogy: Critical Approaches to Teaching Literature, Language, Composition, and Culture to contribute an essay on teaching Romantic-era women poets for the inaugural issue of the journal. I want to provide a forum that showcases the voices of those in the profession who have been teaching the work of Romantic-era women poets, along the lines of a piece that appeared in Studies in Romanticism some years ago, "How It Was," which invited prominent members of the profession to recall what Romanticism was like in 1961 for readers in 1982. The Pedagogy essay would consider "How It Is: Teaching Women's Poetry in British Romanticism Courses" now that we are teaching women's poetry in Romanticism classes. Thus I'm writing to you, to ask whether you would be interested in contributing a one-page statement or set of comments for the essay that speaks to the matter of teaching Romantic-era women poets. I am trying to keep this request as open-ended as possible because I don't want to frame the range of responses at the outset. Any aspect of your experience or thinking about teaching Romantic-era women poets will be interesting.

I invoked the 1982 Studies in Romanticism essay "How It Was" because just as that piece sought to celebrate the first twenty-one years of the journal's publication (its majority) by comparing the state of Romanticism in 1961 to the state of Romanticism in 1982, this piece seeks to celebrate the inauguration of Pedagogy eighteen years later (a coming-of-age) by contemplating the biggest change to influence Romantic pedagogy since 1982: the inclusion of women poets.

"How It Was" offered a wonderful set of recollections by ten scholars [End Page 93] whose memories of the state of Romanticism in 1961 indicated the firm establishment of that canon of six male poets by 1982. Thus, when Michael Cooke (1982: 569) reminisced about his undergraduate English studies at Yale in 1961, he named the six names that mattered to Romanticists in 1982:

Byron was merely frivolous or strident, Blake an impenetrable curmudgeon (it was common enough for experts in romanticism to omit one or the other from their courses, and sans apology). Keats passed muster, by virtue of the intensity, the incandescence of his phrasing, and his almost histrionic representation of the poet's life. And Shelley--say rather poor Shelley--was so despised as to cast an air of indulgence over Arnold's dismissive judgment: "a beautiful and ineffectual angel, beating in the void his luminous wings in vain." Coleridge was the magical triad, Wordsworth lived too long (that view is only now breaking down, as we slowly grant him the right to be good in modes different from the one we canonize in the poems before 1807).

The thirteen responses I received by my January 1998 deadline for "How It Is" delineate a Romanticism energized by the issue of self-definition posed by incorporating women's poetry since the late 1980s, with anything but a definitive list of canonical author names emerging. Contributors to the pages that follow offer candid glimpses of their efforts to negotiate the introduction of rediscovered voices in British Romanticism as they discuss what they perceive students discover in their courses (Stephen C. Behrendt, Alan Richardson); outline their own processes of discovery (Elizabeth Fay, Carol Shiner Wilson, Mary A. Favret); identify specific teaching techniques and course strategies that seem to work (Jerome McGann, Catherine Burroughs, Anne K. Mellor, Marjean Purinton, Nanora Sweet); and consider what else needs to get done (Jeanne Moskal, Judith Pascoe, Harriet Kramer Linkin). 5 In many cases, contributors find themselves contemplating the pedagogical value of sometimes not knowing all the answers.

Responding to the Matter: Teaching Romantic-era Women Poets

We now have anthologies and Web sites that encourage us to fit women poets into the Romantic syllabus with ease and of course we should be grateful for this help. But I would like the introduction of Romantic women poets to remain uncomfortable, a pedagogical and critical question that forces us to confront what we think we are learning when we "discover" poems.

--Mary A. Favret [End Page 94]

Stephen C. Behrendt, University of Nebraska: "Some Thoughts about Teaching the Women Romantic Poets"

What has proved most interesting for my students is the discovery of the extensive dialogue--even the conversation--that takes place in Romantic poetry. When we taught the "old" Romantics course we talked about a William Wordsworth-Samuel Taylor Coleridge dialogue and a Lord Byron-Percy Bysshe Shelley dialogue; while other writers occasionally entered into the conversation (Robert Southey, Thomas DeQuincey, etc., in the former pair; Leigh Hunt, Samuel Rogers, Thomas Moore, or Mary Shelley in the latter), they were usually presented as neither prominent nor especially noteworthy in the larger scheme of the five- (or six-) poet Romantics course.

When I introduced the voices of the active and widely read women poets into this conversation, my students suddenly saw "Romanticism" differently: not so much that it was no longer a phenomenon of the masculine sublime, nor even that it was more diverse in literary terms than they had thought, but rather that the gender split they had heard of (or not) was in fact more the creation of academia, limited academic terms, and the textbook trade than it was a historical and cultural reality. Moreover, having my students study Romantic poets in "clusters"--examining comparatively their diverse approaches to common themes, subject matters, or even forms--permits them to discover unsuspected and often rich resonances in the conversation, which in turn reveals to them how dynamic this community of writers actually was and how invested they were in one another's writing and in the whole writing culture of the period, literary or otherwise.

Including the women poets brings us closer to glimpsing--however imperfectly after some two centuries--the "big picture" of the Romantic writing community. In this process, it healthily complicates for the students issues of periodization, canonization, and the formation of "taste," both in the academy and in the broader public world, and invites them to consider the various ways in which we (individually and as a historically discrete culture) identify and then define literary "characteristics" as part of our study of "literature," taken in its broadest definition, and how others have done so before us.

Alan Richardson, Boston College: "Including Texts by Women in British Romantic Poetry Courses"

Since I've begun including texts by women in British Romantic poetry courses, the classroom has changed in ways I imagined it would. The group of Romantic-era poets indeed feels not just bigger but more varied, less like the habitués (however eclectic) of a clubroom and more like the mixed company [End Page 95] at a coffeehouse--or a salon. Women students in particular do seem more drawn to writing about texts by women poets, though gender lines are regularly crossed in both directions. And it is easier to introduce feminist perspectives and women's issues into class discussion now that the syllabus no longer implies that there was only one gendered position worth writing from at the time.

More interesting, though, have been the changes I didn't expect. Although early criticism had stressed its domestic or "private" subject matter, I've found that introducing women's poetry has in fact helped bring out the political aspects of Romantic discourse. Teaching William Blake's "Little Black Boy" or William Wordsworth's "To Toussaint L'Ouverture" along with the ambitious antislavery poems of Hannah More and Ann Yearsley gives a much larger field to discussions of the slave trade, colonial slavery, and their international repercussions, in large part because students now have material at hand that I would otherwise be trying to summarize in ad hoc minilectures. Which is not to say that More or Yearsley simply provides "background" to the lyrics: students tend to be more initially impressed by the poetic and rhetorical skill of the women, finding the men oblique and aesthetically detached by comparison, setting the stage for lively discussion of formal and discursive choices. Charlotte Smith's Emigrants or Anna Barbauld's Eighteen Hundred and Eleven similarly widen and enrich discussions of the Revolutionary and war years and of the related crisis in British empire building. Women's poetry gives us new access not just to the domestic, but to the global aspects of British Romanticism as well.

If the women's poetry gives unexpected weight to the political, the men's poetry seems unexpectedly biased toward the domestic. That is, once we've discussed the ways that political and domestic, public and private oppositions become complicated in poems like The Emigrants or Slavery or Eighteen Hundred and Eleven, Wordsworth's mingling of domestic and national issues in his sonnets, or Lord Byron's conflation of his domestic and political disappointments in Childe Harold, grow much more insistent and less idiosyncratic. One of the great lessons my students have taught me is that male and female poets alike are engaged in an almost programmatic assault on the public/private distinction in the Romantic era. Another is that, in the absence of explanatory footnotes, elaborate biographical headnotes, and the like (until quite recently I've been teaching the women poets mainly from photocopies of nineteenth-century editions), exemplary misreading and overreading--including my own--are free to emerge and can provide wonderful moments in class discussion. This happens regularly when students come up, free from [End Page 96] a helpful editor's intervention, with opposite readings of Barbauld's "Rights of Woman" or Felicia Hemans's "Casabianca." More unusual have been moments like the one when a student pointed out that there's no reason to think that the speaker in Barbauld's "To a Little Invisible Being" is the expectant mother, rather than her friend or even casual acquaintance, though I and successive waves of students had been naively assuming otherwise for several years. In short, class discussion is more full of surprises and arguments, awkwardness and breakthroughs, than it has been since my days of graduate school teaching. Here's hoping the dust won't settle for a long time.

Elizabeth Fay, University of Massachusetts: "Teaching Romantic-Era Women Poets"

I started teaching a very few Romantic-period women poets in the late 1980s, beginning with Dorothy Wordsworth, whose writing I felt I knew enough to share with students. Susan Levin (1987) had uncovered many of the poems Dorothy Wordsworth had written later in life once her years of active involvement in her brother's compositions were over. Because I found both a Romantic aesthetic and a very realizable female voice in these poems, I thought they would be a good addition to the standard six male poets of the Romantic canon. These weren't easy poems to teach, perhaps, but students--particularly women students--responded to them with an eagerness and understanding I didn't see for the male poets, not even William Wordsworth. I callously thought at the time that students simply found Dorothy Wordsworth's lyrics easier to grasp and intellectually less demanding. So I was surprised to find that other Romanticists sympathetic to the rediscovery of women poets had had the opposite experience: their students disliked Dorothy Wordsworth's poems and complained about having to read them. I found an easy explanation to this puzzle when further conversation revealed that, quite simply, I liked these poems and the other Romanticists who tried teaching them didn't. Students apparently detected their professors' sense of duty versus my more selfish and subjective attitude. Moreover, I think now that perhaps I was able to use the basic concepts of feminist criticism to reveal the complexity and layeredness of Dorothy Wordsworth's work for students in a way that historicism, Marxism, or even close reading couldn't at that time.

This no longer seems to be the case. Scholars and students are generally more open to the work of women writers now, the principles of feminist criticism are more disseminated, and much of the important work on women writers is being done by men. Even so, it's hard to integrate enough women writers into a course of Romantic poetry. Anthologies don't always include a [End Page 97] woman poet's most important works, or don't include enough of her poems, or only include brief excerpts in order to make room for the requisite male works. Or, much worse in my view, they don't include poems that would help illustrate how women writers viewed the themes and politics we now call Romantic.

If this makes organizing a course according to a changing canon difficult, what does help is how the inclusion of women writers has redirected which aspects of the Romantic period get taught. Last spring in an upper-level Romantic literature course we read all the poems in our anthology having to do with the slave trade. Most of these poems were by women, probably because, with the exception of poems like William Wordsworth's "To Toussaint L'Ouverture," men's poems on the topic haven't been included in the received canon. So teaching women writers even changes the way we think about Romantic politics and thus the way we construct our anthologies and course syllabi.

Two of my favorite poets to teach now are Anna Barbauld and Anna Seward. The mastery of form that both these poets exhibit makes them easier for students to accept as worthy of study and allows us to reach an intellectual engagement with their work much faster than with a form-breaker such as Dorothy Wordsworth. I particularly like to teach Barbauld's "A Summer Evening's Meditation" as a greater Romantic lyric alongside Samuel Taylor Coleridge's "Frost at Midnight," and Seward's sonnets alongside William Wordsworth's. Even better, I like to teach Seward's Louisa beside one of Lord Byron's Turkish tales for a lovely perspectival shift on several Romantic themes, such as orientalism, seduction, desertion, and sacrifice.

One impediment that still presents a problem is the looming threat for students of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) subject test. Students are well aware that William Wordsworth, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and John Keats are the only poets they really need familiarity with for that all-important exam. Until the constraints of that ritual exercise change, many students won't easily accept the expenditure of time given over to "unimportant" writers, unimportant because irrelevant to the GREs. If we are slowly but surely changing how we conceive the Romantic canon by the addition of women writers, the GREs issue another, and contradictory, message.

Carol Shiner Wilson, Muhlenberg College: "Romantic Women Writers"

My own true introduction to--discovery of--the women poets of the Romantic period was in the 1990 National Endowment for the Humanities seminar that I took with Stuart Curran at the University of Pennsylvania. I had [End Page 98] read the essays in Anne Mellor's (1988) Romanticism and Feminism and was particularly struck by the supple genius of Curran's piece in that volume ("The 'I' Altered"), a piece that I still think posed some of the most important questions with which we deal in Romantic studies. The seminar itself was gloriously liberating: a vibrant discovery and exploration of women whose names we only dimly knew or didn't know at all--a radical interrogation of all the assumptions we had internalized in our graduate studies: the nature of the Romantic genius, just what visionary meant, the child in Romantic poetry, sensibility, political voice, and more. Moreover, we saw an inevitable surfacing of questions that we never thought of asking until we started studying women poets.

One of my greatest pleasures in the women Romantic poets today is hearing my students say, with equal ease, "Smith, Wordsworth, Keats, Robinson, Byron, Hemans, Barbauld, Coleridge," as if these authors had lived in the same spaces of discussion in Romantics classes forever. But, then, this is a good reminder for me--and a point of discussion with my students--that the big six were at one point the big five and that the inclusion of Lord Byron or William Blake was problematic at different points in the study of Romantic poetry in this century. Paradigms shift, and that action is continuous. The paradigm is shifting with every article, with every classroom discussion, with every discovery and reinterpretation.

I continue to divide my syllabus thematically and find that some of the categories remain the same: revolution, nature, and the imagination, for example. But what I put beneath those categories has changed, for it now includes the women. Charlotte Smith is there, in particular her long meditative poem, The Emigrants. Mary Robinson is there, and I teach her "All Alone" and "The Savage of Aveyron" as companion pieces to William Wordsworth's "We Are Seven." I also continue to include historical, cultural, and critical materials that help contextualize the imaginative literature. In this respect, the Anne Mellor and Richard Matlak anthology (1996) has proved helpful to students for its fine selection of such materials.

Mary A. Favret, Indiana University: "Notes on Teaching Women Poets in Romantic Literature Courses"

Though I had always included women writers in my courses on Romantic literature, I did not begin to take the poetry of women writers seriously until a few years ago. Previously I had added women novelists--Ann Radcliffe or Elizabeth Inchbald, Mary Shelley or Jane Austen--to show that Romantic literature was more than poetry, but also to give the students a good read. [End Page 99] Excerpts from Helen Maria Williams's prose were there to provide an incomparable vantage on the French Revolution and to rival William Wordsworth's account in The Prelude. If a woman poet appeared, she would be Charlotte Smith, whose sonnets showed her to be the grandmother of poetic depression and a real friend to (some) postadolescent undergraduates. To tell the truth, I did not like most of the poems I had read by women of the Romantic period. The lush sentimentality overwhelmed me; what seemed an unearned morality oppressed me. They seemed anti-intellectual, and I was reluctant to put such material in the hands of undergraduates.

About five years ago I grew suspicious of my attitudes. One prompt came from a graduate seminar I taught, where the students were so anxious to prove that Charlotte Smith's sonnets were clearly a woman's work that they neglected to consider them accomplished poetry or even acknowledge them as poetry. My complaint returned to me: I had not been reading these poems with the care I had been taught to give to, say, John Keats or Samuel Taylor Coleridge. In other words, the old habit of a formal reading might be one way of doing justice to the women poets. Another prompt came when I ran across a poem by Mary Robinson: it was witty, thereby shattering many of my assumptions about the entire body of work by women poets. So I spent the summer in the library, reading through the collected works of the more prominent women poets and asking myself which poems I enjoyed.

By the end of the summer, my critical biases had been fully exposed. I adored Anna Barbauld for her intellectual curiosity and her ability to convert anger (Eighteen Hundred and Eleven, for example) into rigorous critique and a complex view of history. (Why hasn't more been written on Barbauld?) Similarly, when Charlotte Smith mustered all her learning, tackling geology, botany, and history in Beachy Head, she scored big with me. Mary Robinson's wit and crisp line won me over, as did Joanna Southcott's visionary extravagance. Ann Yearsley and Hannah More became fascinating when they began sparring with each other. These modes--intellectual, analytic, clever, and contentious, with an occasional dose of the prophetic--felt comfortable to me. What made me uncomfortable (and, I have to confess, still does) was the arguing through feeling, the elaborately rendered sensibility of Mary Tighe, Letitia Elizabeth Landon, and, in many instances, Felicia Hemans. When I sat down to write up my syllabus, poems intent on political issues (slavery, war, poverty) got the nod over those excavating the depths of individual passion; formal experiments or anomalies had the edge over works that marshaled the resources of poetic convention. These biases were recognizable [End Page 100] to me as such, and yet they persevered. Clearly, my problem was not entirely solved.

I learned a few things from this study. First, the women poets writing at the end of the eighteenth and beginning of the nineteenth century are impossible to categorize as a group; their styles, preoccupations, politics, and reasons for writing vary widely. They make me wonder what would happen if we broadened our selection of men poets as well; Romanticism might lose its coherence as anything more than a historical period. Second, I need to understand why the very things that undergraduates might associate with poetry--intense feeling, sentimentality, the repetition of conventional figures, a preoccupation with relationships--are what make me want to run toward formalism and politics. This discomfort is perhaps the most valuable lesson I have learned from my summer efforts, but I still stumble around, trying to find ways to incorporate it into my teaching.

We now have anthologies and Web sites that encourage us to fit women poets into the Romantic syllabus with ease and of course we should be grateful for this help. But I would like the introduction of Romantic women poets to remain uncomfortable, a pedagogical and critical question that forces us to confront what we think we are learning when we "discover" poems.

Jerome McGann, University of Virginia: "Teaching Women Poets of the Romantic Era"

One of the most useful techniques I have used in teaching unfamiliar work is that oldest of philological moves: comparative analysis. In two classes this term--a graduate and an undergraduate course in Romanticism--we spent (as usual) several periods illustrating types of Romantic style. Two exercises proved especially illuminating: a comparative study of William Wordsworth's "Lines Written in Early Spring" and Felicia Hemans's "Night Blowing Flowers"; and the same with Samuel Taylor Coleridge's "Kubla Khan" and Letitia Elizabeth Landon's "Enchanted Island." (In the past I've had similar good results with various other comparisons--Lord Byron's "On This Day I Complete My Thirty-Sixth Year" with Hemans's "Lost Pleiad," and Mary Tighe's Psyche with several John Keats poems.)

In the cases from this term one had a pair of poems with certain clear similarities and shared elements, but with differences that were just as clearly marked. Both examples were also extremely useful for defining key differentials between early and late Romanticism in terms that could be mapped along stylistic, gender, and sociocultural lines. [End Page 101]

The Hemans/Wordsworth comparison nicely defines the difference between an emblematic and a vitalist Romantic sensibility. Hemans's poem has far more in common with William Blake than it does with William Wordsworth--for example, on the matter of the moral status of nature (compare both poems with plate 24 of Milton). Coleridge would probably have called Hemans's poem an example of fancy rather than imagination because she refuses the vitalist move that Wordsworth so splendidly cultivates in his poem. But Hemans's refusal yields results that are closed to Wordsworth's "narcissan" text (I do not say "narcissistic"--see Kristeva 1989), as one sees so clearly in her poem's dialogic form. The sympathy running through Hemans's text is dispersed and articulated, where in Wordsworth it radiates from a unitary--it has been called "pantheistic" and "egotistical"--center. As a result, the structure of the pathos developed in Hemans's poem--and this is typical of her work--rests in defined sets of differences, and a unified field of differences that are open to indefinite elaboration. Her relation to Blake and Byron, in this respect, couldn't be more apparent or significant. Not without reason is alone a key term in her poem, nor is the Garden of Gethsemane evoked at a crucial moment in line 8.

The comparison between "Kubla Khan" and "The Enchanted Island" is an exercise in studying different types of "visionary" poetry. The contrast is stark, even though both poems are meditations on the problematic character of transnatural desires and the art that can develop a representation of such desires. By traditional Romantic measures the Letitia Elizabeth Landon poem is a factitious and unconvincing piece--"visionary" only in a formal sense. But the key to the poem is not to reject or resist its cold surface and unremittingly flat tones, but to enter its bleak world and discover its inner and massively defended core of feeling. In Coleridge's poem the process of the imagination, and the process of writing that instantiates that imaginative process, unfolds its secret (and terrorizing) powers. The desire for the transnatural gradually discovers what is involved in any serious move toward sacred precincts.

Landon's poem is evidently a second-order work--more belated even than John Keats's "La belle dame sans merci." As in the photographs of Cindy Sherman, here stately pleasure domes are marked as the products--in the most literal and commercial sense--of art. Here we understand how "ancestral voices" will prophecy both war and imperial peace, and how the two are so closely related (a relation that is mystified, to splendid effect, in the Coleridge poem). Everything "in" Landon's poem is factitious, for the poem is a self-conscious meditation on Romanticism as a set of cultural formations (and not a self-authorizing form of "visionary" truth). [End Page 102]

Yet the poem remains deeply Romantic, as its pivotal lines show. The painting's most suggestive locus, according to Landon, "make[s] the eye / Dream of surpassing beauty" (lines 29-30). It is a brilliant moment of revelation. Working through one of her favorite word plays (eye/I), Landon dramatizes that fleeting moment when the suffocating Romantic subject recovers its foundational desire. One thinks of Charles Baudelaire's "Any where out of the world"--in this case, out of the world refigured and recollected in this poem, as this poem; that is to say, any where out of the illusions of the Romantic imagination itself and its acculturating forms of art. And how telling that this desire should be located in the eye--the eye of the I, the brute body threatened with actual, debasing embrutement by its own imaginative powers and their illusions of transcendence.

The text for glossing Landon's poem is from Percy Bysshe Shelley's Defence of Poetry, the great passage on Hellenistic and Alexandrian writing, and the fate of Platonic Eros in periods of "social corruption": "For the end of social corruption is to destroy all sensibility to pleasure. . . . It begins at the imagination and the intellect as at the core, and distributes itself thence." Shelley argues that the primitive sensory apparatus becomes at such moments the last line of vital defense and visionary awareness. "The Enchanted Island" dramatizes Shelley's argument in relation to England in 1825.

Catherine Burroughs, Cornell University: "Teaching Romantic-Era Women Poets"

When teaching women poets from the Romantic period--Mary Robinson, Joanna Baillie, Felicia Hemans, Mary Russell Mitford, Frances Anne Kemble --I often refer students to other genres these writers composed not only to highlight the fact that generic experimentation was one of the hallmarks of the Romantic era, but also to help students grasp how important theater was in shaping Great Britain's literary culture during the first half of the nineteenth century. I try to assign a research project or an oral presentation that asks students to contextualize their readings of the verses we're studying in class with an investigation of the playscript that a particular woman poet may have produced, or with an analysis of the formal or informal remarks she may have made about her experiences as a playwright, spectator, actor, critic, or theorist. That is, I make an effort to link the production of poetic verse with theatrical performance in order to draw attention to the pervasiveness in Romantic writing of what Judith Pascoe (1997) has described as "romantic theatricality." This approach of having students read poetry in the context of playscripts, prologues and epilogues to plays, and prose observations about [End Page 103] those professional and private stages that permeated Georgian life helps me to describe, from a slightly different perspective, the familiar narrative of literary history in which both male and female writers created verse forms that anticipated the dramatic monologues of Victorian and modernist poetry. Moreover, an emphasis on poetry's performance elements, through the foregrounding of women writers in the context of theater history, also attunes students to the politics of voice, silence, speech, persona--terms of particular significance to feminist theory. In short, because I enjoy studying the drama, theory, and theater criticism produced by British Romantic women writers, my teaching of women's poetry from the Romantic period is informed by the desire to see students embrace poetry in a particular way, as the record of potentially performable utterances suitable to different kinds of stages.

Anne K. Mellor, University of California, Los Angeles: "Teaching Romantic Women Poets"

I first taught a graduate seminar exclusively on the female poets of the Romantic period in the spring of 1997 at UCLA, relying entirely on the selections from the Mellor and Matlak anthology (1996). We began by distinguishing two radically different traditions of female poetry in the period: an overtly political poetry that claimed to speak for and on behalf of the nation, and a more self-consciously "feminine" poetry that focused on the particular situation of women--as daughters, lovers, wives, and mothers. Within these two traditions, we explored the function of the cultural discourses of sensibility, of the Rights of Woman debate, of the slave trade and abolitionism, of "romantic" love, of the domestic ideology, and of the poetic process itself.

By defining the differences between the historical situations and verse forms of such female poets as Felicia Hemans, Letitia Elizabeth Landon, Charlotte Smith, Anna Barbauld, Mary Robinson, Hannah More, Helen Maria Williams, and Lucy Aikin, we were able to see clearly all the ways in which these poets developed unique poetic worldviews. At the same time, by comparing their work on occasion to the poetry of their male peers, we could see the positions and poetic practices they shared as women poets.

As an intellectual exercise, this course was enormously useful in defining what is characteristic of women's poetry in this period: the particular subjects and verse forms that women exploited in ways that men did not. When asked to evaluate the content of the seminar, my students felt strongly that (a) women's poetry on the whole was not as successful an artistic achievement as women's fiction in this period, and (b) women's poetry was most exciting [End Page 104] when contrasted to poems by male poets that highlighted gender differences between them.

Marjean D. Purinton, Texas Tech University: "Teaching Romantic-Period Women Poets"

In Joanna Baillie's 1790 "Address to the Muses," the persona invokes the "tuneful sisters of the lyre" to visit the bard in "close and shelfed room"--the feminized and domestic space in which women were restricted. Writing in the 1820s, Dorothy Wordsworth is concerned with a "natural" incident in "Floating Island at Hawkshead." The persona hopes that fragments of the isle that passed away "shall remain / To fertilize some other ground." These "fragments" refer to poetic thoughts. Felicia Hemans's persona in "Woman and Fame" (1833) reminds those who make "the humblest hearth" that they have a voice, "whose thrilling tone / Can bid the life-pulse beat." She imbues the female poet's voice with power.

These women, like others in the early nineteenth century, address the struggle for a woman's voice to be heard, to be credible, to be valued in the public sphere. They all reflect the ways in which poetry written by women concerns the process of writing the female self as well as the poetry-writing process. Deconstructive, feminist, and postmodern reading strategies inform the interpretive paradigms in which I teach Romantic women poets. In both my undergraduate and graduate courses, I suggest the following strategies:

1. Read women dialogically with men poets from the Romantic period (e.g., juxtapose Felicia Hemans's "Memorial Pillar" with William Wordsworth's "Thorn");

2. Read women poets within the context of the historical and cultural milieus that inform their writings and from which their writings emerge (e.g., Mary Robinson's "Progress of Liberty" within the context of French revolutionary political discourse and rights-of-women debates);

3. Read women poets with the contexts of their lived experiences and consider how their personal lives inform what they write (e.g., Charlotte Smith's Elegiac Sonnets within the context of her own marital and childbirth experiences);

4. Read women poets dialogically with other Romantic-period media (e.g., juxtapose Ann Yearsley's "Indifferent Shepherdess to Colin" with Charles Dibdin's theater song "The Joys of the Country," or juxtapose Amelia Opie's "Black Man's Lament" with William Blake's drawings for John Stedman's Narrative or J. M. W. Turner's painting The Slave Ship). [End Page 105]

We read Romantic-period poets through feminist perspectives that expose the struggles for a female poet to acquire voice and presence, an authoritarian position in the public domain. Our readings are thus informed by knowledge of the limitations of education, the obstacles to publication, the censorship of female sexuality, and the restrictions of domestic ideology for women in the early nineteenth century. Our assessments are complicated by an understanding of how female poets had to negotiate male-determined standards of writing. We include women's voices in the cacophony of sounds that characterize the revolutionary early nineteenth century, not as marginal or tangential to the poetic projects of male writers but as an equally important contribution to what we identify as Romanticism.

Nanora Sweet, University of Missouri: "A Rap on Reading Hemans"

How we and our colleagues and students might learn to enjoy and admire Hemans's poetry--and as much, what many of us already know about reading and appreciating such work:

1. Read her poetry as a vehicle for a popular culture that's doing, after all, the serious work of culture (on us)--a way many of us read, view, and enjoy artists from Charles Dickens to Georg Lukács.

2. Read her through a postmodern tolerance for writing that finds the canons of realism and modernism irrelevant to the cultural work it wants to do. This is the way I, at least, am able to read and appreciate postmodernists from Salman Rushdie to Fay Weldon.

3. Read with relish for the popular modes she uses: adventure, the gothic, horror (an example of the latter, her "Tale of the Secret Tribunal").

4. Read other books and works by her than Records of Woman. I would always recommend Tales, and Historic Scenes, which contains several tales of adventure and tableaux of horror. Recommend also her plays and Greek and Spanish song cycles for bloodcurdling and thought-provoking fare.

5. Read her works as opera, thinking of Verdi's adaptations of plots from the same repertoire that she, Lord Byron, Sir Walter Scott, Mary Russell Mitford, and so forth put to word music.

6. Read (if you happen to be of my pre-baby boomer generation) from a background in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, purportedly a learner at her own feet, or (for those who, like my students, are considerably younger) from an interest in Lord Tennyson ("Dungeons and Dragons" dressed up to Idylls of the King, a perennial favorite with certain kinds of young male students): poetry as narrative vehicle.

7. Read her (if you share this with me, too) from a taste for Lord Byron all the way round--whether professionally for the conversation between them or less [End Page 106] intellectually for (but is this, too, hopelessly pre-baby boomer?) a love of such bravura performances as "The Destruction of Sennacherib" ("The Assyrian came down like the wolf on the fold"). Try indeed the Records of Woman's own "The Indian City" ("And the sword of the Moslem, let loose to lay, / Like the panther leapt on its flying prey").

8. Read indeed as performance, rhetoric, costumery, the loud music that Morse Peckham once said was Verdi's chief gift to Risorgimento, revolt via noise. Read as a feminist-orientalist performance. Hemans intensifying like flamenco the "veil" of her florid diction until (again "The Indian City"), like her tormented heroine who "rose / Like a prophetess . . . / . . . flung from her face the veil" to call down the powers of immolation, she reveals the face of woman's quite frightening power in culture. Read as a striptease, then, an exercise in political porn.

9. Read as a feminist, too, but one with the comparatist tastes of an Ellen Moers (1977) rather than purely those of an Anglo-American or realist or modernist feminism: Moers's term for performances like Hemans's, of course, was heroinism. Read, feminist or not, as someone who's simply been raised on superheroes. Can we claim to have outgrown melodrama as a culture? Why not compare Hemans's William Wallace with Mel Gibson's William Wallace? 6

Jeanne Moskal, University of North Carolina: "Teaching Women Writers"

I should note that the question you asked me was about teaching women poets, and I have responded by substituting women writers. To me, the inclusion of genres other than poetry is part of what makes it challenging and interesting to teach this material. The generalizations I learned about Romanticism when I was in graduate school were based entirely on lyric poetry and epic poetry, and it is exciting to find that that is only part of the picture of the literary culture of the period. The inclusion of a Jane Austen novel in my undergraduate Romantics class is almost universally applauded by the students.

The only course I have taught on Romantic-period women writers exclusively was one of the most exciting graduate courses ever. For one thing, the course drew the best graduate students, those who were willing to take a course because they were interested in the material and not just because it met a distribution requirement or because it covered material that would be tested on the Ph.D. exams. They are the students who tend already to be feminists and/or students who are looking ahead, beyond the requirements of the graduate program, to what the profession as a whole is doing.

It was considerably harder for me to teach this course than a usual Romantics course or a half-women and half-men course because I had to work [End Page 107] up so much new material. I used the Mellor and Matlak anthology (1996). I knew the writers Mary Wollstonecraft, Mary Shelley, and Lady Morgan fairly extensively from my own research, but for the other writers I depended on the selection provided by Mellor and Matlak just to know where to start. This is a very different situation from teaching the six canonical male writers, whose complete or almost complete oeuvres I had studied independently of the Perkins (1995) anthology I taught from. In other words, Perkins selected from twentieth-century editions of complete works; Mellor and Matlak often seem like a foreshadowing of the kind of complete-works anthologies that are still to come (except in the case of Charlotte Smith, whose poetry Stuart Curran [1993] has edited--an anthology I have used for class and enjoyed).

It is hard to coax undergraduates to find something to like in Charlotte Smith. They perceive her as a whiner. This perception may be because I taught Smith in an undergraduate course with male writers and with the aesthetic concepts (probably unconsciously) derived from men. The students couldn't find much to say. One of my graduate students commented that she had had the same problem in an undergraduate course (nothing to say about women writers in a mixed-sex course), but that when she took my all-women writers Romantic-period course, there was lots to say about Smith and everybody else. This might be because I had changed the aesthetic-conceptual parameters for an all-women course, or because (to invoke Occam's razor) there was simply more time to devote to Smith when we did not have to cover William Wordsworth, William Blake, Lord Byron, and the rest. Graduate students have one consistent complaint about an all-women writers course: if you have only about a month or so to write a seminar paper, that is not enough time to do all the research. With the male writers, scholars have already provided monographs describing their reading and their involvement in politics and edited their letters and journals, so the student just needs to go to the graduate library and check the books out. With women writers, it is much harder. We have a superb rare book collection here, and even so, it is tough to get your hands on primary works (interlibrary-loan librarians become your best friends, but of course that process is very time-consuming), and there are almost no secondary works to help students along. For example, one of my students told me that he had to depend on a biography of one of Mary Robinson's lovers in order to get information about Robinson herself, since there isn't a biography.

The advantage of this dearth of scholarly secondary material is that a smart and diligent (and lucky) student can do publishable work--it takes longer than a semester, certainly, but often in a year or year and a half the student [End Page 108] does have something new to contribute. This prospect is very exciting to me and to my students. For example, my student Sharon Jowell (1997) was able to publish her essay on Mary Shelley's Lodore and Falkner largely because she was one of the first to examine them thematically rather than biographically. A student probably just couldn't do that with a more thoroughly plowed field. The result is that the students become excited about research and think of themselves as scholars and not just as students. This is an incalculable advantage in graduate education.

Judith Pascoe, University of Iowa: "Some Thoughts on Teaching Women Writers"

I just got back a set of teaching evaluations, and one comment is, I think, painfully perceptive. I'll quote the student, who wrote in response to a part of the evaluation that asked students to talk about texts (repeating a comment he made in an in-class discussion of how the course went): "The selections from Romantic Women Poets I felt were detrimental to the direction of the class. They were inserted and glossed over in a way that made it appear that they were used only to prove a PC [political correctness] point. I may be wrong, but I think it would have been better to find some kind of coherent context for them rather than putting them all together in a lump sum." In my defense, the texts from the Ashfield anthology (1995) were inserted into the class according to thematic concerns--we didn't simply take a day out to cover women poets--but I think the bigger problem was that I just didn't do a very good job teaching women poets this semester. Why? I do the best teaching texts that I know the most about: I have fat teaching files on William Wordsworth and William Blake, for instance, and I can teach certain poems by either of these authors--and teach them well--with very little advance preparation. But I don't have fat files on women poets because there isn't enough to put in those files. Not enough work has been done on them yet by critics, so that I don't have a set of critical perspectives ready at hand to help me set up the texts and construct discussion questions about them (though I'm hoping this will be somewhat changed by the MLA's Approaches to Teaching British Women Poets of the Romantic Period volume). It's simply a lot more work figuring out how to get students to engage with Mary Robinson's Lyrical Tales, especially if you want to make sure not to present women authors as pale corollaries of their male peers. Mainly, I think I didn't spend enough time on individual poems by particular authors in the Ashfield anthology (and I think I didn't do this because I was feeling so pressured for time that it was easier to let Lord Byron take up a bit more than his allotted time, thus avoiding having [End Page 109] to do as much work to prepare a woman poet that I'm less good at teaching). Even though I don't think this student spoke for the class as a whole (when he said the same thing in class, several others disagreed with him), I do think I made my students hate Charlotte Smith this semester. What an accomplishment! I think it may not be possible to teach Beachy Head to undergraduates in its entirety within the time constraints of a survey class, and I think, in trying to do so, in too big a rush, Smith ended up making my students really like Wordsworth. They weren't too keen on Wordsworth while we were reading him, but he became greater when they found themselves lost in Beachy Head. I am appropriately chastened, and I will be consulting the Approaches volume so that I never repeat the dubious accomplishments of this past semester.

Harriet Kramer Linkin, New Mexico State University: "The Not-So-Simple Story of Romantic Women Poets"

Perhaps it's not fair to answer my own question, but I can't resist commenting on how rapidly the status quo has changed in the Romantics classroom. If the 1989 survey revealed that fewer than 10 percent of the syllabi distributed in Romanticism courses included Romantic-era women poets, a similar survey today might demonstrate that less than 10 percent of such syllabi omit Romantic-era women poets. Or so the proliferation of new or revised editions and anthologies would suggest, given the market research publishing houses surely conducted before they made women's poetry so accessible to the classroom. Specialized anthologies of Romantic-era women's poetry (such as those edited by Andrew Ashfield [1995], Jennifer Breen [1994], Paula Feldman [1997], or Duncan Wu [1997]) and of the British Romantic period in its entirety (like those edited by Jerome McGann [1994], Anne Mellor and Richard Matlak [1996], David Perkins [1995], or Duncan Wu [1994]) heralded the way to a more inclusive Romanticism; the publication of revised editions of the Longman (Damrosch 1999) and Norton (Abrams and Greenblatt 2000) anthologies, which situate Romantic-era women poets directly within the era (versus a "minor poets" category, as in the sixth edition of the Norton [Abrams 1993]), signals that Romantic women poets have arrived, at long last, into the mainstream.

I started including a smattering of women's poetry in my Romanticism classes a little less than ten years ago, after I discovered--to my delight and consternation--that there were Romantic-era women poets. Like many of my colleagues, I tried to expand the standard six-poets-in-two-generations model of canonical Romanticism I had studied in graduate school by adding prose selections from significant women writers. In teaching Mary Wollstonecraft's Vindication of the Rights of Woman and Mary, A Fiction, Dorothy Wordsworth's [End Page 110] journals, Jane Austen's Persuasion, or Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, I could neatly punctuate the all-male model of transcendent poetics with a feminist perspective that queried the canon without quelling it. In fact, the chronological canonical male model set out a framework perfectly suited to the addition of a few good female authors, as if tailor-made for a narrative I constructed, that turned from William Blake to Mary Wollstonecraft, from Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth to Dorothy Wordsworth, from Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley to Mary Shelley and Jane Austen, and concluded, as expected, with John Keats. That narrative played beautifully in the classroom.

When I began adding women's poetry to my narrative framework, I tried to adopt the same simple plan. But as I inserted more and more material by Anna Barbauld, Anna Seward, Charlotte Smith, Hannah More, Ann Yearsley, Mary Robinson, Joanna Baillie, Dorothy Wordsworth, Mary Lamb, Mary Tighe, Jane and Ann Taylor, Felicia Hemans, and Letitia Elizabeth Landon, I discovered that my old author-centered center did not hold, things fell apart, and the women poets disrupted truths I took to be self-evident. Including Romantic women poets taught me and my students that (1) Romanticism started earlier--Anna Barbauld, Charlotte Smith, Anna Seward, and Mary Robinson clearly mapped the landscape of Romantic poetry years before William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge claimed to stumble upon the new ground they labeled Lyrical Ballads in 1798; (2) Romanticism ended later--Felicia Hemans and Letitia Elizabeth Landon extended high-Romantic perspectives well after John Keats (and William Wordsworth, in Percy Bysshe Shelley's cruel view) died; and (3) Romanticism didn't stop to catch its breath between the two generations of male poets--Mary Tighe's Psyche, for instance, offers a crucial bridge between William Wordsworth and Percy Shelley as well as Mary Robinson and Letitia Elizabeth Landon.

As I reviewed my syllabi from 1990 onward to ground my comments for this piece, I realized I had not used the same syllabus twice since I began including Romantic-era women poets: each syllabus reflects my learning about another poet, more poems, new resources, and additional connections between the not yet canonical and the once exclusively canonical. The one constant in all my narratives, however, is my reliance on the Ur-story of the six-male-poets-in-two-generations canon, the very story my syllabus purports to rewrite. Given the increasing attention to women poets of the British Romantic period on all levels, from high school classes to doctoral programs, I find myself wondering how long it will be before students enter the classroom with no knowledge of that once simple canonical story. [End Page 111]

Not Quite a Conclusion

What do these voices say, then, about the pedagogical impact of including women poets in British Romanticism courses? What opportunities and problems emerge from the Romantics classroom that includes women's poetry? What are we learning about the process of teaching a British Romantic era that includes women poets? On the most basic level, we find ourselves organizing course materials for classroom presentation differently; of course, we do that whenever we include new writers, but in several instances the very models we use for course organization and syllabus development have changed. Thus Behrendt teaches poetry in clusters that address common concerns from diverse perspectives, an approach that showcases Romanticism as a community rather than as discrete pairs of poets engaged in conversations that occasionally include a third or fourth participant. We also find classic methods of presentation renewed by the inclusion of women poets, so that what McGann calls that oldest of philological moves, comparative analysis, opens up new pairings for Fay, Purinton, Richardson, and Sweet.

We have a long way to go on our learning curve; already we may want to unlearn some recently acquired assumptions about the nature and appeal of women's poetry. Richardson notes that while some of his expectations held true--that women students respond strongly to women's poetry (as Fay also observes) and that the inclusion of women's poetry allows for a richer range of feminist positions in the Romantics classroom--other likely expectations were confounded: women poets were more political than early research had led us to believe, and men poets were more concerned with the domestic than early definitions of the domestic affections had suggested. Similarly, Favret found herself enjoying the unexpected wit, the contentiousness, the intellectual rigor, the historical-prophetic concern, and the formal skills of the women poets. Even as we teach these new materials to our students, we teach them to ourselves, which makes teaching a more exhilarating but time-intensive prospect than ever, issues that both Moskal and Pascoe address with refreshing honesty (and some rue) as they acknowledge how much work engaging these still not well-known women poets entails.

Equally unexpected are the great opportunities emerging for students in fields not yet researched to death (or overdetermined by footnotes). Graduate students really can produce publishable research in a semester, as Moskal observes; undergraduate students can pose new interpretations without being squelched or anticipated by the footnotes, as Richardson notes; and, more generally, students need not feel so overwhelmed by the mass of published research that they lament having nothing to add to the critical conversation. [End Page 112] The students in my classes who write on Romantic women poets tell me that they feel as if they are producing meaningful work rather than performing a required exercise to be graded.

We continue to wrestle with gender and genre issues--the challenges of complementary presentation and the potential biases of exclusive presentation--in new ways: thus Burroughs observes how useful it has been for her to situate women's poetry in a theater context so that students can consider the dramatic components of this poetry in comparison to men's poetry; Mellor wonders whether teaching women's poetry without access to men's poetry does the women a disservice because students miss the interesting gender differences that emerge through comparative analysis; and Mellor and Moskal query the value of teaching women's poetry by itself versus offering a more representative course on Romantic-era women's literature.

We struggle to find ways to include more material and a greater range of material: Fay comments that even though there are many more resources available now than there used to be, new anthologies and single-author editions, we still scramble to find complete poems rather than selections, and selections that represent what individual instructors consider an author's best work or the writing that is markedly relevant to traditional Romanticism. Some of us find the resources of the World Wide Web of great assistance in solving the dilemma of access, though printouts from electronic files reproduce the old status dilemma of the tattered photocopies that so many of us deployed before the new anthologies and editions: ephemeral paper tossed at the end of class. And if those pages are ephemeral, we also worry about the time spent studying them and whether that time will count when students have to account for their time via standardized tests like the GRE (as Fay remarks) or Ph.D. examinations (as Moskal notes). Some of us even worry about the viability of Romanticism as a literary period within the larger discipline of English studies, given the destabilizing effect of women poets on the traditional canon, which makes it more difficult than ever to articulate precisely what Romanticism is; moreover, just as the inclusion of women poets extends the period's dates back into the eighteenth century and forward into the nineteenth, other literary periods have extended their dates and seem poised to swallow Romanticism whole (notably the long eighteenth century, which subsumes Romanticism in its most elongated formulation, 1660-1830).

Despite these worries, these struggles, and these concerns, these voices express a tremendous amount of enthusiasm for engaging the work, as well as a sense of renewal about the mission of teaching, of taking delight in the process of discovery. How it is teaching women's poetry in British [End Page 113] Romanticism classes: just now the inclusion of women poets in Romanticism classes turns those classes into spaces where instructors and students learn together.

Harriet Kramer Linkin is professor of English at New Mexico State University, where she teaches courses in Romanticism, women's literature, and gender and language. She coedited Approaches to Teaching British Women Poets of the Romantic Period and Romanticism and Women Poets: Opening the Doors of Reception, has published essays on Romanticism and pedagogy, and is completing a study of Mary Blachford Tighe.


1. Two notable publications appeared in 1988 and 1989: Stuart Curran's "Romantic Poetry: The 'I' Altered" and Marlon Ross's Contours of Masculine Desire.

2. Approximately 50 percent of the courses assigned Mary Shelley and Dorothy Wordsworth; 30 percent, Jane Austen and Mary Wollstonecraft; and 13 percent or fewer, Emily Brontë, Ann Radcliffe, Mary Lamb, Charlotte Smith, Charlotte Brontë, Maria Edgeworth, Anna Barbauld, Felicia Hemans, Mary Robinson, Anna Seward, Jane Taylor, Helen Maria Williams, and Mary Hays (Linkin 1991: 555).

3. The quotations that follow from Nanora Sweet, Catherine Burroughs, Deborah Kennedy, and Elizabeth Fay are from their original responses to the MLA questionnaires, which Behrendt summarized in his overview of the survey results (Behrendt and Linkin 1997: 1-6). For a list of all the survey participants, see the volume (179-80).

4. See the "Materials" section of Behrendt and Linkin 1997 (9-20) for my discussion of publications that appeared in or before 1997.

5. Readers interested in pursuing particular issues raised by participants in this forum can turn to their numerous publications on Romantic-era women authors.

6. Nanora Sweet made these comments online to NASSR-L@wvnvm.wvnet.edu on 16 July 1997 and resent them to me on 5 January 1998 to contribute to this discussion.

Works Cited

Abrams, M. H., ed. 1986. The Norton Anthology of English Literature. 5th ed. 2 vols. New York: Norton.

------. 1993. The Norton Anthology of English Literature. 6th ed. 2 vols. New York: Norton.

Abrams, M. H., and Stephen Greenblatt. 2000. The Norton Anthology of English Literature. 7th ed. 2 vols. New York: Norton.

Ashfield, Andrew, ed. 1995. Romantic Women Poets 1770-1838: An Anthology. Manchester, England: Manchester University Press.

Behrendt, Stephen C., and Harriet Kramer Linkin, eds. 1997. Approaches to Teaching British Women Poets of the Romantic Period. New York: Modern Language Association.

Breen, Jennifer, ed. 1994. Women Romantic Poets: 1785-1832. London: Dent.

Curran, Stuart. 1988. "Romantic Poetry: The 'I' Altered." In Mellor 1988, 185-207.

------. ed. 1993. The Poems of Charlotte Smith. New York: Oxford University Press.

Damrosch, David, ed. 1999. The Longman Anthology of British Literature. 2 vols. New York: Longman.

Feldman, Paula, ed. 1997. British Women Poets of the Romantic Era: An Anthology. Baltimore, Md.: Johns Hopkins University Press.

"How It Was." 1982. Studies in Romanticism 21:554-71.

Jordan, Frank, ed. 1985. The English Romantic Poets: A Review of Research and Criticism. 4th ed. New York: Modern Language Association.

Jowell, Sharon. 1997. "Mary Shelley's Mothers: The Weak, the Absent, and the Silent in Lodore and Falkner." European Romantic Review 8:298-322.

Kristeva, Julia. 1989. Tales of Love. Trans. Leon S. Roudiez. New York: Columbia University Press.

Levin, Susan. 1987. Dorothy Wordsworth and Romanticism. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press.

Linkin, Harriet Kramer. 1991. "The Current Canon in British Romantics Studies." College English 53:548-70.

McGann, Jerome, ed. 1993. The New Oxford Book of Romantic Period Verse. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Mellor, Anne, ed. 1988. Romanticism and Feminism. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Mellor, Anne, and Richard Matlak, eds. 1996. British Literature 1780-1830. Fort Worth, Tex.: Harcourt Brace.

Moers, Ellen. 1977. Literary Women: The Great Writers. New York: Anchor-Doubleday.

Pascoe, Judith. 1997. Romantic Theatricality: Gender, Poetry, and Spectatorship. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press.

Perkins, David, ed. 1995. English Romantic Writers. 2d ed. Fort Worth, Tex.: Harcourt Brace.

Ross, Marlon. 1989. The Contours of Masculine Desire: Romanticism and the Rise of Women's Poetry. New York: Oxford University Press.

Wu, Duncan, ed. 1994. Romanticism: An Anthology. London: Blackwell.

------. 1997. Romantic Women Poets: An Anthology. London: Blackwell.

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