1. How does the representation of nature change between the eighteenth century and the Romantic period? What is the function of nature in the poetry of each period? In what ways is it seen as a poetic subject in its own right, as something to be described? In what ways is it seen as an inspiration for the discussion of other topics? Consider Oliver Goldsmith's "The Deserted Village" (see NAEL 8, 1.2877–2886) and William Cowper's selection from The Task, "A landscape described. Rural Sounds" (see NAEL 8, 1.2891-92). Compare this to William Wordsworth's Tintern Abbey and Samuel Taylor Coleridge's Frost at Midnight.
  2. Compare and contrast Sir Philip Sidney's The Defense of Poesy (see NAEL 8, 1.953-74) to Percy Bysshe Shelley's A Defence of Poetry? In what ways do these texts propose to defend poetry and its function? How do these reflect the differing conceptions of poetic expression of the sixteenth century and the Romantic period? How does Shelley's similarly titled text respond, if at all, to Sidney's arguments?
  3. Mary Wollstonecraft's A Vindication of the Rights of Women (1792) predates John Stuart Mill's The Subjection of Women (1860) (see NAEL 8, 2.1060-70) by more than half a century, but both address stereotypes about women's social roles and rights. In what ways are they addressing the same topic but proposing different solutions? How might Mill's text be read as a response to Wollstonecraft, even though he makes no mention of her in his entire text?
  4. How does poetry express an apocalyptic vision in the Romantic period compared to the twentieth century? Compare Blake's A Vision of the Last Judgment with William Butler Yeats's "The Second Coming" (see NAEL 8, 2.2036–2037). What inspires apocalypse and what is its end result? How is redemption figured, if at all, in these poems? How can these representations of apocalypse be situated historically with respect to events during the lifetimes of these poets?

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