Critically analyse the similarities and differences you discern in


Lit5 Assignment 2

The Task

Write an essay on the following topic:


Critically analyse the similarities and differences you discern in first- and second-generation Romantic approaches to poetry. You should support your claims and analysis by referring to the work of at least four writers covered in Units 1-9.  



Learning materials and required readings for Units 1-9 (while you may refer to primary texts not mentioned or discussed in detail in these Units, your focus should be on required readings for this section of the module);

web resources identified in relevant units;

further reading identified in relevant units;

Oxford Reference Online;

The Norton Anthology of English Literature, 9th edn, vol. 2 (New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 2012);

Literature Online, which you can access through the database section of the DCU Library Catalogue;

JSTOR, which you can access through the database section of the DCU Library Catalogue;

Project Muse, which you can access through the database section of the DCU Library Catalogue;

The Literary Encyclopedia, which you can access through the database section of the DCU Library Catalogue.





 Assessment Aims and Outcomes

This assignment is designed with several objectives and outcomes in mind, namely:


to develop your skills in close textual reading;

to enable you to progress your study of literature to an advanced level by developing and supporting a coherent argument about the issues raised in the Assignment Task;

to demonstrate your ability to synthesise information from course materials in a coherent and applied way;

to develop independence of thought and allow you to structure an argument in a manner which avoids overdependence on the arguments to be found in the course Units (N.B. this does not mean that you should not draw on the information in the course texts as a key element of your answer);

to encourage you to exercise an informed choice in the selection of primary texts and secondary criticism on which you will focus;

to enable you to demonstrate your ability to prioritise information and justify that prioritisation in a reasoned and clear fashion.




There is no one correct response to this task, which requires you to compare and contrast first- and second-generation Romantic approaches to poetry, and to account for the similarities and differences that you find. However, you should consider what texts written by the two generations reveal about what individual writers thought about the role of the poet and/or the function of poetry, while also considering other issues such as subject matter, genre, style and language. The Assignment Task is a broad one, which necessitates knowledgeable reference to the work of a range of writers: this has the advantage of allowing you to come up with an informed but original response based on a wide choice of material, and the disadvantage of introducing the possibility of your becoming lost or unfocused. To prevent this, you need to plan your work carefully.


The first step is to identify which writers belong to each generation. When dealing with the ‘Big Six’, it is easy to separate the first generation (Wordsworth, Coleridge and Blake) from the second generation (Keats, Shelley and Byron), but an assignment that deals only with these writers will not be as comprehensive as one that considers other, less canonical authors, including the women poets covered in the Units. Broadly speaking, first-generation writers are those whose work appeared between 1780 and 1810, while second-generation writers are those whose work first appeared after 1810, but it is important to remember that the work of some writers, including Wordsworth and Coleridge, spanned both periods.


To respond effectively to the issues raised in the Assignment Task, you will need to analyse the work of at least two writers from each generation. Having identified suitable writers, the next step is to choose the texts on which you will base your analysis. You may choose prose texts, even though the Assignment Task refers to poetry and the role of the poet. Select works that afford comparisons as well as contrasts between the work of both generations and consider too how writers from each generation differed in their views of issues such as the role of the poet, appropriate poetic subject matter, and the importance of poetic tradition. Compare and contrast your chosen texts and on the basis of that analysis identify what, if anything, distinguishes first- and second-generation Romantic approaches to poetry. Read around the issues involved by consulting secondary sources, such as those listed at the end of individual Units. Because texts are produced within specific personal, social and political contexts, you should address these topics when accounting for the differing treatments of the key themes by your chosen writers.


Having done this preparation, you will now be ready to write your essay, which should include the following elements:


an introduction that defines key terms; identifies the texts on which you will base your assignment; and establishes your position in relation to the key issue raised in the Assignment Task

a main body in which you analyse primary texts and refer to secondary criticism to show how you came to adopt that position. There are various ways in which you might structure your essay – e.g. you might first deal with first-generation writers then move on to second-generation ones, or you might structure your analysis thematically across both generations.

a conclusion in which you might synthesise your various points; suggest how the analysis of other texts might affect your evaluation; draw some general conclusions about poetry of the Romantic period, and/or the Romantic canon.


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