Midterm Study Guide Engl 212

The purpose of this study guide is not to indicate exactly what will be on the exam. The ideas below (which we've discussed in class) are intended to help you think about the works we've read and studied so far this semester--including some Victorian works.  Use these study guide ideas with 1.) your notes and own ideas to think about the poems and prose we have read along with 2.) your review of the literature itself.  Don't forget the Intros. to the Romantic Period and Victorian Age give you helpful general ideas about the periods and specific works. The author biographies do as well.  And be sure to review the Course Notes.  Don't forget the Queen Victoria's Empire video clips you watched--on Canvas.

The midterm will cover everything through, and including works listed for, our March 19 class--through "Prophyria's Lover."

Write out practice responses to previous quiz questions as well as questions you make up. Remember the quiz questions we went over in class. Finally, revise your notes as needed.  Clarify a vague point or add context to ideas as you study.  This will make your notes more meaningful.

Strategies:  When answering questions, begin with your thesis--your main point--and then support it as time allows.  Skip questions you are not sure about right away and come back to them.  The process of completing other questions may clarify your thoughts.  IDs:  consider content and form.

Possible question types:

  1. New: Identifications: You will identify an unmarked passage (give the title of the poem or prose piece) and explain its significance. I will not give you short, obscure passages.
  2. Multiple choice, true or false, or matching*
  3. Short Answer:*  Think of individual works as well as connections among works.

*Like quiz questions.

You will have some choices within each section of the exam.

Time for midterm: Everyone will take the exam outside of class--using Canvas.  You will take the midterm during our class period time:  9:30-10:45--75mins.  I will, however, give you extra time for logistics and technology issues.

NoteThe syllabus lists quick read poems we've read this semester; these will not be covered on the midterm.  However, these can help you think about the literature we've read.  Also, you will not need to memorize dates or specific historical events or biographical details.  However, you should know basic dates: e.g., beginning/end dates of Romantic and Victorian Periods, French Revolution.


Key terms/concepts: Blake's Contraries/dialecticism; spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings, recollected in tranquility; skeptical idealism, meaning of "inspiration"

Below are some issues we have considered this semester. Expand on these and add works not listed here. Also, works might fit in more than one category.

  1. Nature and the natural world
    This theme refers to how the individual in Romantic poems interacts with and thinks about nature (p 13).  What is the value and role of nature?  What is the relationship a speaker/individual has with nature?  What does the natural world offer individuals?  Romanticism: Wordsworth's Preface, "Michael," Shelley's "Ode to the West Wind," and Keats's "Ode to a Nightingale."
  2. Individual as a source of authority and the desire for individual autonomy
    As the general introduction discusses (pp. 13, 19), Romantic poetry focuses on the individual as a creator and agent of (revolutionary) change.  Individual perception and consciousness can recreate reality, be the source of a poem rather than external factors.  Since these ideas include the notion of a "ceaseless striving for the unattainable," success is not measured in traditional terms.  Moreover, knowledge is often accompanied by acknowledging limits, pain, and suffering.  Looking inward results in facing and recognizing the individual's limits and mortality.  Romanticism:  Blake's speakers (children?) in the Songs, "To a Sky-Lark,"  Keats's "Ode."  Victorianism: "On Liberty." (Significance of individualism)
  3. The Child
    Consider the image of the child and the qualities the child represents. ("The Child is the Father of the Man"--see Wordsworth, pg 346, "My heart leaps up"; Also see the general introduction, p. 17) Romanticism: Blake fits well here (also consider his use of irony--Songs).  Childhood in "Michael" and the reference to childhood (section 4) in Shelley's "Ode to the West Wind."
  4. Imagination--Spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings/moment of inspiration
    This theme refers to how the individual mind interacts with nature along with the freedom of the creative imagination, but also refers to the tension between how poetry is written (composition) and the moment of inspiration (heightened moment of creative imagination).  Almost all of our readings have touched on the role of the imagination. The imagination can help make the ordinary unusual and help sythesize elements/ideas that are opposites or contraries. Also, through the imagination, a revolution of the mind might occur that brings individual as well as social and political change.  In terms of the tension between composition and the creative, heightened moment of inspiration, what is this heightened moment?  What does it represent? How does the poet caputure this heightened moment through writing (poetry)? Romanticism: Wordsworth's Preface, "She Walks in Beauty," Shelley's Defense and "Ode," and Keats's "Ode to a Nightingale."
  5. Social Criticism/Revolution/Relationship of individual to society
    How do works we've read address social concerns (e.g., treatment of children, slavery, living conditions) or critique societal conventions and attitudes (e.g., marriage)? Where do a person's rights come from?  The importance of revolution in the Romantic period?  Also, how can individuals maintain their individuality and still belong to society?  The tension between individualism and social norms and customs?  Romanticism: "The Rights of Woman," Cowper, Blake's Songs (dialectical relationship of Innocence and Experience), Wordsworth's Preface, Byron, Shelley.  Victorianism: Carlyle, Mill
  6. Poetry and poetic form/style (**I will not ask you the scan lines of poems.**)
    Consider how form and meter reinforce themes we have discussed or are at odds with content.  (What is the effect of this?). Examples: Blake's Songs, Cowper, "Michael," Shelley, Keats's "Ode." Victorian Period: Carlyle's prose style.
  7. Position of Women
    Think of the position of women (e.g., identity, rights and opportunities, sexuality, marriage) during the Romantic Period. For general context, see pp. 8-10.  Romanticism: Barbauld.  Victorianism: Porphyria in "Porphyria's Lover."