William Blake: Songs of Innocence and Experience. The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, The First Book of Urizen.William Wordsworth: Preface to the Second Edition of Lyrical Ballads, “Michael.”William Wordsworth: “Resolution and Independence,” “Composed upon Westminster Bridge,” “To Toussaint L’Ouverture,” “Ode: “Intimations of Immortality,”Samuel Taylor Coleridge: “The Eolian Harp,” “Kubla Khan,” “Frost at Midnight,” “Christabel.”  Samuel Taylor Coleridge: “Dejection: An Ode,” Selections from Biographia Literaria, “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” (1817 version); Robert Southey: “The Sailor Who Had Served in the Slave-Trade”choose one or more of the major literary works listed above. identify a critical problem associated with the work or works.  Begin your essay by explaining the critical problem and offering a few possible solutions (you need not be exhaustive—you only need to sketch out a range of possible solutions).  Then construct an argument in which you offer your own, relatively original perspective on the problem.  What do I mean by a critical problem?  Basically, I mean a problem of interpretation that critics and other readers have often noted and tried to solve in one fashion or another.  If I put it a slightly different way, critical “problems” become “opportunities” for interpretation and analysis.  For some texts, such as “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” the meaning of the text represents a major critical problem.  While it might be difficult (or even impossible) to settle on one definitive reading of this complex poem, Coleridge’s revisions (including his addition of the marginal glosses) represent a wonderful opportunity to speculate on his intended meaning for the poem.  Other critical problems and opportunities might take different forms.  Robert Southey was one of the Lake Poets (along with Wordsworth and Coleridge) and became Poet Laureate immediately before Wordsworth.  What might be some of the reasons that his work is far less valued today than the work of Wordsworth and Coleridge?  Or, in a related question, why did the work of Charlotte Smith drop off the critical radar through most of the twentieth century?  Why is her work much more favorably viewed in 2014?  A final example might to explore the ways in which William Blake’s The Marriage of Heaven and Hell might help readers understand the difficult and perplexing First Book of Urizen.

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