Journal: Pedagogy (Project Muse Standard Collection)
It is important to realize that sticking to the canonical Literature being taught in College does not always work. This concept gives us little chance to explore the “British Romanticism” period. Jacqueline Labbe’s article from Project Muse titled “Teaching ‘Glocal Landon’ within British Romanticism” makes a strong case for teachers to use patterned themes from other cultures and connect to one of the Romantic Period’s poets Letitia Landon. Labbe points out that Landon is not even considered high on the list of authors being discussed between the Romantic Period and the Victorian Period (With William Wordsworth, Samuel Coleridge, William Blake, and John Keats’ work being required for a course compared to Landon). The author further makes it known that “By focusing on the historical period and how it organizes genre along with national culture(s), rather than attempting to confine its writings to a homogeneous pattern of writing, teachers can bypass some assumptions about canon and instead construct a syllabus responsive to the themes and aims of the course itself” (Labbe, 202). Sticking to the cultural human aspect to relatable patterns to Literature of the Romantic Period is suited to be more effective in the classroom setting than fixating on everything canonical.
Most of Letitia Landon’s poetry circles in on romantic issues with unhappy relationships or marriages. Landon had even created this “Love” characterization and from there, teachers can connect with a diverse amount of authors (from the east all the way to Italy); this would be an accessible way to discuss these stories in class and find different themes that circles back to Landon. All of Landon’s work provides a voice for each narrative and in turn, realize this idea of Love being lost is seen in different foreign stories. In fact, Labbe continues to point Letitia Landon was used as a starting point for an MA course on the Romantics. One week students might be studying the British Romantics, another week India and The East, and the last week would be solely on the Britons and Italy.
During the week when students focused in on the texts relating to the East, the students were required to look at plays, novels, and poems that reflected the key ideas found during this time period with Landon’s poems. For example, famous philologist William Jones (during this time period) said this about language in regards what the students looked at in his article ‘Discourses Delivered before the Asiatic Society’: “The Sanscrit language, whatever be its antiquity, is of a wonderful structure; more perfect than the Greek, more copious than the Latin, and more exquisitely refined than either, yet bearing to both of them a stronger affinity, both in the roots of the verbs and the forms of grammar, than could possibly have been produced by accident; so strong indeed, that no philologer could examine them all three, without believing them to have sprung from some common source” (Jones, 204). In response to Jones’ discourse on language, it is very crucial to understand the importance of Sanscrit and the use of grammar with the language. Students had a good look over Jones’s translations on hymns and provided a sense of the form being used. All of the students came to the conclusion that his language in the poems have the correct names in the language and at the same time, trace back to the English. Now how does all of this relate to Letitia Landon? The students in this course focused on Landon’s poem The Zenana. What was discovered is that the narrative is identified with the imagery found in Indian Literature. No matter what language or culture the story comes from, the image is a strong craft strategy when it comes to writing. The author’s job would be showing the readers, not telling them. In The Zenana, Landon’s reoccurring character Love connects to so many cultures that it fits right into the India Literature during the time period.
By using close reading skills and identifying imagery with Landon’s poetry, students had been to be keenly focused on the author’s voice than continue to point back to canon. Landon is commonly widespread diversely in Literature circles because of her common patterns with love and romance. This course overall was based on making Letitia Landon’s work a level playing field compared to Lord Byron, William Wordsworth, William Blake, Samuel Coleridge, and John Keats’ work.
I found this article very interesting because I know some English Literature instructors follow the canon and others have several other works that follow a pattern with one another. I really believe a student should learn about other diverse texts that pertain to the class. Other cultures will circulate around a common theme in their stories and if applicable, teaching the students more about what is outside the canon seems like they would be able to engage more in a discussion. Following the canon with all your classes seem tiresome after a while and while it might be effective in some cases, Labbe’s argument leads me to believe every culture seems to lead us back to the theme from the original author.