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US - English 12 - Mary Shelley & The Romantics (Harris): Assignment


Mary Shelley & The Romantics                                     Paper Assignment 2019

Below are two options for you to consider as you determine the topic of your research paper on Mary Shelley & the Romantics.




Analyze Percy Bysshe Shelley’s “Mont Blanc” poem, a work heavily alluded to as a key setting of the novel Frankenstein, as symbolizing the voice of the Shelleys and the Godwins.  How does the poem represent Percy Bysshe Shelley’s radical ideas?  How does the poem represent the revolutionary sensibility of the Creature in Frankenstein and Mary Shelley’s Gothic Terror warning to society?  How does the poem represent not only the reformist vision of the Shelleys but also their extended family, Godwinian tradition of progressive Jacobinism as represented by William Godwin’s Political Justice and Mary Wollstonecraft’s Vindication of human rights for all people.





Analyze Coleridge’s “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” poem, a work heavily alluded to in the novel Frankenstein, as symbolizing the moral vision of Mary Shelley’s novel and how inspirational and poetic characters in both works are analogous to Fuseli’s Nightmare.  What characters in the novel are analogous to the Nightmare Life-in-Death is she, the albatross and water snakes, and the Mariner?  How are these three kinds of characters analogous to the woman and the two spirits in the painting? Consider Mary Shelley’s account of how she came to write the novel, too.  How might these works be representative of Mary Shelley’s own kunstlerroman journey into becoming a Gothic Terror visionary of moral courage?


Recommended Literary Criticism & Considerations For Scholarly Engagement:

*Consider what Percy Shelley indicates as the moral of the novel and his and his wife’s devotion to Godwinian utopianism in his “On Frankenstein” review (in Norton Critical Edition).  


*Consider what William St. Clair describes in “Frankenstein’s Impact” (in Norton Critical Edition) as the Victorian’s reactionary and conspiratorial coverup of the novel’s radical family vision.  Note Clair’s argument about restoring the original and progressive moral of the novel to help you revisit Victor Frankenstein’s original creative vision and his moments of concern for justice on behalf of the Creature.  If the ethical vision of the novel is actually an homage to Godwinian Jacobinism, why is the novel written in the strategic, popular and often misunderstood guise of Gothic Romance?


*Consider the original Victor as the embodiment of Godwinian Romanticism, a synthesis of the Enlightenment devotion to empirical science and skepticism as well as the Romantic devotion to intuitive nature and the active mind of imaginative creation.  Perhaps qualify William Bate’s reading in “Frankenstein and the State of Nature” (in Norton Critical Edition) of Victor as a character of Enlightenment tradition having little to nothing to do with Romanticism.  


*Consider the creatrix dimensions of the novel’s generation and the tradition of Gothic Romance by exploring the biographical, feminist literary criticism of the novel in the essay titled “Female Gothic: The Monster’s Mother” (in Norton Critical Edition).  Note how Ellen Moers argues that Mary Shelley’s experience as an intellectual member of a family and circle of radicals as well as a young mother, as evidenced through journals and letters about her motherhood, helped inspire the novel and its vision that both aligns with and diverges in an original way from the traditional Gothic Romance.


*Consider Stephen Greenblatt’s biographical literary criticism sketches (in Resources and the Norton anthology) of Percy Bysshe Shelley and the other family members to explore the complexity of character their family represents.  


*Consider other sources of literary criticism from our Library’s collection of resources such as Modern Critical Views edited by Harold Bloom.  See the Library’s LibGuide for assistance.


Literary Research Paper Checklist:

  • Follow OWL site’s MLA guidelines and punctuation rules
  • Proper format, heading, double-spaced in 12-point font
  • Around 6-7 pages, with a final page as Works Cited for all sources
  • Short & creative title with primary author and main issue
  • Introductory paragraph with hook, context, bridge, thesis
  • Consistent analytical focus on how style conveys the thematic point
  • Use of cultural terms from the literary survey and style device terms
  • Logical organization, transitions, coherence of your ideas
  • Topic sentences echo your thesis points in terms of style and theme
  • Substantive body paragraphs with appropriate evidence for all claims  
  • Specific examples provided in consistent and balanced manner
  • At least two secondary sources of literary criticism quoted and discussed
  • Plenty of partial quotes and paraphrases with parenthetical citations
  • Cite lines and show line breaks for quoting lines of poetry
  • Conclusion rephrases thesis, widens context, and ends with a clincher
  • No spelling, grammar, or usage errors





Outline & Introduction Paragraph Due on Friday, March  15.

Two Critical Sources & Two Body Paragraphs Due on Friday, March 29.  Writing Workshop.

Last Body Paragraph, Conclusion, Works Cited Due on Wednesday, April 3.  Writing Workshop. Final Draft & Due Start of Class Monday, April 8.