John Keats (the British Romantic poet) was a qualified surgeon-apothecary (more a general practitioner than a druggist) who boldly staked his claim in literature, making his mark on letters before the age of his death at 25. This course will examine John Keats alongside theories of the medical science. We will read extensively in Keats’s poetry, considering not only his best-loved short poems and great Odes, but also his letters and his long narrative poems Lamia, Isabella, The Eve of St. Agnes, Hyperion and The Fall of Hyperion. We will consider Keats’s Romantic cultural context, especially Romantic medicine. We’ll sample Keats’s afterlife in literary criticism and popular culture. Finally, we’ll theorize key issues for the Medical Humanities: definitions of health and illness, and the therapeutic potential of poetry and the arts in general. The course will require active participation, a reading journal, with entries for each class period, and two 5 pages papers.
Keats’s Poetry and Prose, ed. Jeffrey N. Cox, Norton critical edition