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William Wordsworth: Course Introduction

Welcome to ‘William Wordsworth: Poetry, People and Place’. This short video will introduce you to the course. It is filmed outside Dove Cottage, William Wordsworth’s home in Grasmere in the English Lake District. Wordsworth lived in Dove Cottage from 1799-1808 and it is where he wrote much of his greatest poetry, examples of which we will be studying on this course.

Welcome to ‘William Wordsworth: Poetry, People and Place’. This short video will introduce you to the course. It is filmed outside Dove Cottage, William Wordsworth’s home in Grasmere in the English Lake District. Wordsworth lived in Dove Cottage from 1799-1808 and it is where he wrote much of his greatest poetry, examples of which we will be studying on this course.

William Wordsworth: Poetry, People and Place

You are not required to have any knowledge of Wordsworth or his poetry at this stage. If you decide to enroll on the course, we will introduce you to all the poems we are going to study and provide you with copies of the texts. You may, of course, also want to make use of your own edition of Wordsworth’s writing. As we think it is important to hear poetry aloud, the course includes readings by Professor Keith Hanley and readings from Dorothy Wordsworth’s journal by Dr Jenn Ashworth, from Lancaster University.

We recommend the following editions of Wordsworth’s work:

William Wordsworth, The Major Works, edited by Stephen Gill (Oxford University Press, 2008).

William Wordsworth, The Prelude: 1799, 1805, 1850, edited by Jonathan Wordsworth, M.H. Abrams and Stephen Gill (W.W. Norton and Company, 1979).

During the four week course, our students will encounter a range of study materials, including video talks and interviews with experts, readings, discussions, peer-review activities and quizzes. Many of our videos are filmed on location in and around Grasmere and also in the Jerwood Centre, the archive of the Wordsworth Trust that preserves the poet’s manuscripts.

The course is designed to give you a strong sense of the importance of place for Wordsworth’s writing and to introduce you to how he wrote his poetry.

The topics for the four week course are as follows:

  • Week 1: Introducing Wordsworth and Lyrical Ballads
  • Week 2: ‘Spots of Time’: Childhood, Education and Memory in The Prelude
  • Week 3: ‘Michael’: Wordsworth and the Importance of Place
  • Week 4: William and Dorothy Wordsworth in and around Grasmere

These weeks are designed to make the most of our chosen video location in Grasmere and our special access to the Jerwood Centre. They also draw on the research and curatorial expertise of the staff at Lancaster University and the Wordsworth Centre.

You will be able to work through the materials at your own pace and we encourage you to contribute to the discussions and other activities. You will notice that each step within a week is identified by the type of content contained within (such as video, article and so on). Each ‘step’, regardless of the specific type of content, contains a comment button that you are also encouraged to use in order to create conversation around the items. For content marked as ‘article’, there are often a number of open questions contained in the text, where you can use the comment tool as a method for responding.

New Feature: tagging your comments

Learning together is a strength of learning online with a large number of peers, but it will be impossible to read all the comments which interest you, so we have developed an interactive search tool to help you discover new conversations.

In order to make this tool sort through comments effectively, we ask that you #hashtag important words in your comments. For example if your comment is about #women in #wordsworthfamily or specifically aboout #grasmere or #lyricalballads you may wish to add these as tags. Here are some more tags you may wish to use: #william #dorothy #michael #prelude #dovecottage #history #poetry (etc.) – Feel free to make up your own tags or copy other people’s tags too, but ensure they are a single word (with no spaces). Be creative!!

After you have worked though a step, it’s a good idea to click the ‘mark as complete’ button, as this will allow you to track your progress through the materials.

It may be useful now to pause for a moment and think about what you may want to achieve from doing this course and feel free to apply when you are ready

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William Wordsworth: Poetry, People and Place

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