BA English Literature and American Studies

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Queer Forms: Objects and Animals in Eighteenth-Century Poetry

Course unit fact file
Unit code ENGL31282
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? No


  • explore a range of canonical and noncanonical poems written by women in Britain and America across the long eighteenth century;
  • use these texts to introduce students to eighteenth-century poetry – its history and development, its critical reception today (including legacies of feminist recovery), and some of its principal preoccupations across forms and genres;
  • examine this poetry’s renewed importance for the intersecting research fields of gender and sexuality studies, environmental humanities, and poetic form / formalism
  • build on critical skills and vocabularies developed in such courses as Theory and Text; Literature and History; Gender, Sexuality and the Body: Theories and Histories; Romanticism (1776-1832); and Satire and the Novel: English Literature of the Long Eighteenth Century.

Teaching and learning methods

One hour lecture, two hour seminar  

The course will meet and exceed Blackboard minimum requirements  

Knowledge and understanding

·       Confidently engage with work in eighteenth-century poetry, from feminist recoveries of poems by women to the enduring significance of these texts for research in gender and sexuality studies, environmental humanities, and poetic form / formalism

·       Demonstrate understanding of cultural contexts for eighteenth-century poetry, including debates about gender and sexuality, the body and its aesthetic representation, class and race, objects and animals, and the construction of the canon  

·       Display aptitude for writing critically about poems from a range of theoretically informed perspectives

Intellectual skills

·       Analyse how encounters with the nonhuman in eighteenth-century women’s poetry generate opportunities to think beyond the limits of the human and its normative categories

·         Discuss how this project of revising existing orders of knowledge and representation can be read in new ways through queer, gender, and critical race, and environmental studies

·       Demonstrate proficiency with critical and theoretical vocabularies from studies in poetics, gender and sexuality, race, and environmental humanities

Practical skills

·       Sustain a sophisticated scholarly argument focusing on how and why poetry is especially adept at facilitating these explorations, engaging with current ideas about form / formalism

·       Sharpen skills in close reading

·       Independently develop concepts and critical practices in an assessed portfolio of close readings of poems and an essay, informed by critical theory from the course

Transferable skills and personal qualities

·       Close reading and textual analysis

·       Argumentation and criticality: the construction of clear, rigorous, and detailed critical writing

Employability skills

Analytical skills
Group/team working
Oral communication
Written communication

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written assignment (inc essay) 60%
Portfolio 40%

Feedback methods


Feedback method   

Formative or Summative  

 Written Feedback 




Recommended reading

  • Paula R. Backscheider and Catherine E. Ingrassia (eds), British Women Poets of the Long Eighteenth Century: An Anthology (Johns Hopkins, 2009)*
  • Paula R. Feldman (ed.), British Women Poets of the Romantic Era: An Anthology (Johns Hopkins, 1997)
  • Roger Lonsdale (ed.), Eighteenth-Century Women Poets (Oxford, 1989)


  • Kadji Amin, Amber Jamilla Musser, and Roy Pérez (eds), ‘Queer Form: Aesthetics, Race, and the Violences of the Social’, ASAP/Journal 2, no. 2 (2017)
  • Paula R. Backscheider, Eighteenth-Century Women Poets and Their Poetry: Inventing Agency, Inventing GenreTeaching staff
    Staff member Role
    James Metcalf Unit coordinator

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