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7. The Supernatural

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About this Lecture


In this module, we think about the presentation of the supernatural in the poetry of the Romantic period, focusing in particular on: (i) the emergence of the Gothic novel in late-18th century England; (ii) the blurring of the line between the natural and the supernatural, such as in Mary Shelley’s ‘Frankenstein’ or Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s ‘Rime of the Ancient Mariner’; (iii) the contrast between children as believers and adults as non-believers, such as in Goethe’s ‘Erlkönig’ (‘The Erl-King’); and (iv) the presentation of art as potentially supernatural, such as in Lord Byron’s ‘Don Juan’.


In this twelve-part course, Dr Ross Wilson (University of Cambridge) explores Romanticism, the literary movement that originated in Europe toward the end of the eighteenth century. In the first module, we think about the question of genre in Romantic poetry. In the second, we think about poetic language. In the third, we explore the theme of emotions, sensations and feelings in Romantic poetry before turning in the fourth to the concepts of ‘poetry’ and ‘the poet’. In the fifth module we think about the important concept of the sublime in Romantic poetry before moving on in the sixth to consider the presentation of nature more generally. In the seventh module, we think about the presentation of the supernatural in the poetry of the Romantic period, while in the eighth we consider the political context in which the poetry of the Romantic period was being written. In the ninth module, we think about the idea of the Romantic canon, before turning in the tenth to the manifestation of Romanticism in other media, including architecture, painting, music and theatre. Finally, in the eleventh and twelfth modules, we turn to some more recent criticism of Romanticism, looking first at the twentieth century, and then at the twenty-first.


Ross Wilson was born in Salford and brought up in north Manchester, where he attended Philips High School and Bury College. He was educated at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, and University College London before completing his doctorate at Cambridge in 2004. He held a Research Fellowship at Emmanuel (2004-7) and a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship in the Faculty of English, Cambridge (2007-9) before being appointed to a lectureship in Literature in the School of Literature, Drama, and Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia in 2009. He returned to Cambridge in 2013 as Lecturer in Criticism in the Faculty of English and took up a fellowship at Trinity College. He is editor of Romantic Circles Reviews & Receptions and very occasionally tweets @RossWilso . In 2015-16 he is the Crausaz Wordsworth Fellow at the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences, and Humanities.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Wilson, R. (2019, February 12). Romanticism - The Supernatural [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Wilson, R. "Romanticism – The Supernatural." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 12 Feb 2019,

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