Poetry: The Great Romantics and Victorians

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Duration 01:05:22

University of Roehampton

Fiona Sampson MBE is Professor Emerita of Poetry at the University of Roehampton, London. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, the English Association and the Wordsworth Trust, Professor Sampson has served on the Council for the Royal Society of Literature and is Trustee of the Royal Literary Fund. As a poet, she is published in thirty-eight languages and has received numerous national and international honors. Editor of Poetry Review 2005-12, she is the author of the internationally acclaimed biographies In Search of Mary Shelley, and Two-Way Mirror: The Life of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, a New York Times Editor’s Choice and Washington Post Book of the Year.




Most of us have a kind of cultural awareness – which we may or may not have gotten in school – about the giants of nineteenth century poetry, from William Wordsworth and Percy Bysshe Shelley to Alfred Tennyson and the Brownings. But why do these famous figures matter? Does their work really stand the test of time? And where would we start in order to find out? In this seminar, Professor Fiona Sampson, one of the UK’s leading poets and a scholar in the field, takes us through some great examples. We look at poems as both masterpieces in their own right, as well as signposts to the field around them.


Recommended Reading:

Wordsworth’s Poetry and Prose – Nicholas Halmi, ed.

Shelley’s Poetry and Prose – Donald H. Reiman and Neil Fraistat, eds.

Romanticism: An Anthology – Duncan Wu, ed.


Discussion Questions:

  1. Is it okay to have favorites from among the canon of “great” poets?
  2. These may be wonderful poems, but does the world they reflect still have relevance for us today?
  3. Did you have to memorize poems during your education – and if so, was this a good thing?
  4. Our session couldn’t be comprehensive in the time we had: what other poems would you add to the ones we covered?





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Merle Rose

Title compelled me to tun in.

Wonderfully engaging speaker and topic.
So glad I came on board.
I will watch again.
Merle Rose
Princeton, NJ

2 years ago
Linda Rowe

Excellent discussion by Fiona Sampson. Please entice her to return!

2 years ago
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