The Romantic Period was an artistic movement in 18th century England. Romantic poets held to the philosophy of individualism and believed in cultivating a reverence for nature. The Romantics believed in the supernatural and unrealistic, and examined the world through a passionate lens. Teaching a class on the Romantic poets is essential to understand the era and the function of poetic devices in literature. Many of the techniques used by Romantic poets and writers can be found in contemporary literature.
Decide on and locate copies of the poems you want to teach. Well-regarded Romantic poets include William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Lord Byron, John Keats and Percy Shelley. Their influence can be seen in the works of American writers such as Walt Whitman and Edgar Allan Poe. There are a variety of options of poetry from these writers that can appeal to any age group of students.
Pick literary devices for students to study in the poems. Common literary devices for poetry include: assonance, alliteration, simile, metaphor, personification, imagery, mood, theme, tone and diction. Provide definitions for the class before reading the works.
Teach students how to read poetry. Explain that, when reading aloud, follow punctuation marks rather than stopping at the end of the line or stanza.
Read the first Romantic poem to the class or ask for a volunteer to read.
Define any tricky vocabulary words, then have students identify what literary devices the poet used. Annotate the poem with your students and encourage them to mark their texts for later reference.
Discuss the Romantic's interest in nature. Identify parts of the poem, if relevant, that hold to the romantic belief that experience was best felt and interpreted in nature.
Explain the focus of Romantic expression on the medieval, supernatural and exotic. Identify any elements or situations in the poem that adhere to this belief.
Ask students to identify, if relevant, any moments of criticism in the poem. Romantic poets were often interested in social commentary on society and its values.
Discuss what the authorial purpose of the poem was. Ask questions that will lead to a discussion of theme and purpose.
- Start with smaller poems so students are not overwhelmed.
- Use an overhead projection device so students can see your note-taking process as you go.