The first part of this course deals with aesthetics shown in Keats’s poetry, such as Lamia, “La Belle Dame sans Merci,” and Endymion. The research on these poems and relevant essays focuses on the depictions of female mythological figures and employment of languages in these poems, which provide examples of Keats’s aesthetics. The collections of Keats’s letters not only serve as a supplement to Keats’s aesthetics and poetics but offer hints about the particular issues in terms of literature and science that he was interested in. In addition, with the studies of British aesthetic traditions, this course provides students background knowledge about aesthetics that Keats’s poetry possibly responds to.
An interesting feature of Keats’s poems is the discussions about life. His poems reflect his contemplations on the possible life forms, such as the female mythological figures, seeking for conversations between the scientific and mythological discourses about life. To familiarize students with the scientific and mythological discourses about life, the second part of this course examines monstrosity in Romantic mythology and scientific debates, which were prominent during Keats’s times. Monstrosity suggests transformations, which is suitable for representing the varieties of life forms. The scientific debates between the vitalist and the materialist, on the other hand, deal with scientists’ attempts to define life. Keats’s poetry shows his concerns for these interpretations about life in the nineteenth century. With the examination of Keats’s poems in the nineteenth-century mythological and scientific discourses, the research aims to offer an intriguing perspective to demonstrate Keats’s scientific aesthetics promoted in his poetry. This kind of aesthetics challenges the binary distinctions between the rational (science) and the emotional (mythology), and reveals Keats’s response to life with his life experience in the nineteenth-century context.