English 143 Paper 1

For this first paper, I would like you to explore some of the differences and similarities between the two concepts that anchor this class: The Gothic and The Romantic.  As "the first gothic novel," The Castle of Otranto can be seen as a blueprint for the Gothic genre; while Wordsworth's "Preface" to Lyrical Ballads can be seen as a blueprint or manifesto for the Romantic.

Write a five-page, thesis-driven paper in which you examine one or two of the poems we have read so far in light of these two extremes.  In other words, you are to write about Otranto, the "Preface," and one or two poems.  Use the first two to map out the differences (and/or similarities) between the Romantic and the Gothic; then situate the poem(s) on this map.  Does the poem fit neatly into either genre?  Does it fit somewhere between, drawing on both?  (Or does it not fit very well at all, making us need to rethink the Gothic and the Romantic as two separate genres?)

Hint:  Don't try to be exhaustive in your analysis of these genres.  We have already made lists in class that would overflow a five-page paper.  Instead, focus on a few elements that contrast nicely between these two genres, or that seem to go together.  For example:  How do both genres handle perception, subjective experience, and emotional response? Or  How do both genres deal with the past, family, and the obligations of relationships?  Etcetera.  Then carefully choose your poem or poems so that they shed light on the elements you have chosen to focus on.

If you want to write about something that doesn't really seem to fit this assignment, clear it with me beforehand.

Feel free to email me with any questions.