Essay Assignments for Romantic Revolutions in
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1. The purpose of these essay assignments is to give you the opportunity to engage
critically with the writers, texts, and culture of 1790's Britain. Choose
one of the following prompts from either the first general topic, Romantic Revolutionaries and their Personae, or the second
topic, Revolutionary Violence and Romantic Drama. The
first option exercises your creative writing skills and requires you to mimic
the techniques of Romantic dramatists. The second option follows a more
traditional format and requires you to analyze at least two Romantic dramas.
Essay Assignment (Option 1):
Romantic Revolutionaries and their Personae
2. Use creative writing to engage with one to three Romantic texts we have read in
this unit. In addition to your creative response, include a critical
introduction that analyzes your own writing and explains, analyzes, and
interprets your literary techniques and rationale in relation to your
understanding of interpretive themes and issues. This cover letter should
present a clearly defined interpretation of the work(s) and provide support from
the literary texts and/or your own creation for its assertions in a logical and
sophisticated manner. The success of this creative response will depend on how
well you define your audience. In addition, your creation should show nuanced
appreciation for the style of the genre you are recreating.
3. Prompt 1: Write an "Anti-Jacobin" response to
either Mary Wollstonecraft, William
Godwin, Elizabeth Inchbald, or Thomas Paine,
taking on the persona of a parson for the Church of England or another persona
of your choosing, such as Edmund Burke, Richard
Polwhele, or Hannah More.
or . . .
4. Prompt 2: We have read some examples of dramatic writing
from the Romantic era, such as Elizabeth Inchbald's The Massacre or Hannah
More's Village Politics. Convert a scene we have
read in prose form into a dramatic scene. Suggestions include (but are not
limited to) Edmund Burke's description of the
royal family's flight from Versailles, Olaudah Equiano's Interesting Narrative, or Mary Prince's History of Mary Prince. Key here will be the audience for
your dramatic scene: Covent Garden in the Romantic era, twenty-first century
television viewers, etc.. You might also include an "Advertisement"
for your play that can double as your critical introduction.
or . . .
Essay Assignment (Option 2):
Revolutionary Violence and Romantic Drama
5. Unlike the above prompts, the ones described below do not require a critical
introduction because they follow the traditional format of most English essays,
analysis and interpretation.
6. Prompt 3: As we discussed in class, Elizabeth Inchbald's tragedy, The
Massacre, and P. B. Shelley's tragedy, The Cenci, were never
produced onstage. In a thoughtful essay that makes use of close analysis, argue
for the benefits and/or the problems of performing these plays for Romantic
or . . .
7. Prompt 4: We have read three texts about slavery and
abolitionism in this unit: Olaudah Equiano's Interesting
Narrative, Mary Prince's History of Mary
Prince, and Olympe de Gouges's Black
Slavery. Write a comparative essay that argues which of these pieces
would make audiences more sympathetic to abolishing slavery. Your essay should
consider the role that violence plays in each text. In addition, I expect you to
acknowledge the effects of dramatic writing and non-fiction prose on Romantic
audiences. In other words, how might visiting an eighteenth-century playhouse
differ from reading a text in private?
8. Evaluation: Successful papers will demonstrate not only
sophisticated and original thinking, but also linguistic clarity. A central
argument or well-developed and clearly articulated main point should shape your
response to this assignment. I am also looking for evidence that you understand
the major issues of the day (French Revolution, women's rights,
abolitionism, debates about democracy) and that you are able to distinguish the
features of dramatic writing and non-fiction prose.