ENG 496 Literary Criticism


Paper 2: comparative


due as attached file, by noon Friday, Feb. 15

Length: no shorter than 2 and no longer than 3 full pages double-space typed/computer printed. No fonts smaller than 10 pt. or larger than 12 pt.

Margins: standard: top and bottom margins = 1 left and right margins = 1.25

Citation: If you quote directly you must cite your source. Since we all have the same text simply put it parenthetically, for example (Aristotle page) or (Shelley page). If you choose Pope please cite from his poem by page#.line#


Both Alexander Pope and Percy Shelley knew Latin and Greek and read all of our four classical foundation texts--Plato, Aristotle, Longinus, and Horace--in either the original or translation. Pope is far more commonly described as a neoclassicist than Shelley the Romantic, but both directly imitated classical models in their literature. Pope translated Homer's Greek Iliad and many of Horace's Latin poems into English, and Shelley paid homage to Greek tragedy and myths in his Prometheus Unbound. In their literary criticism, how do these British poet-critics also incorporate ideas from Greek and Roman theories of literature and art?


Choosing either Pope's Essay on Criticism, or Shelley's Defence of Poetry, select any one important idea that we have already seen in Plato, or Aristotle, or Longinus, or Horace. State that idea clearly and directly, and then explain why it is important to Pope or Shelley; whether that idea is mostly unchanged or is modified significantly; if the idea itself is criticized; and what role the idea now plays in Pope's poem or Shelley's essay. This allows you to explore how critical ideas are both preserved and transformed within what we call a Western critical tradition, and to see what neoclassicism looks like in concrete terms.


The assignment lets you play to your strengths and interests by choosing either poetry or expository prose, and by picking from any one of four challenging but important classical critics.