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English Literature   >   The Poetry of John Keats

Keats the Reader

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The Poetry of John Keats

In this course, Dr Ross Wilson (University of Cambridge) explores the poetry of John Keats. In the first two modules, we think of Keats in terms of first reader, then writer, thinking about his engagement with both the texts of others—and particularly the great writers of the Western canon such as Homer and Shakespeare—as well as his approach to his own writings. As we move through the course, we think about the broader themes in Keats’ poetry—his interest in the senses, in the idea of negativity and disanalogy, and his experimentation with and handling of poetic form. In the final module, we think of Keats in terms of his relationship with others—firstly in a personal sense, and then in a more political.

Across the course as a whole, we take into account several of Keats’ poems and letters, including:‘On First Looking into Chapman's Homer’, ‘Hyperion’, ‘Bright Star’, ‘On Sitting Down to Read King Lear Once Again’, ‘Isabella; or The Pot of Basil’, ‘When I have Fears That I May Cease to Be’, ‘O Solitude! if I must with thee dwell’, and ‘In Drear Nighted December’.

Keats the Reader

Although Keats never went to university, he was nevertheless a voracious reader. He was said to have read every book in his school library, while he himself boasted of having read Shakespeare’s Hamlet more than forty times. According to a school friend, he “ramped through” Spenser’s Faerie Queene “like a young horse into a Spring meadow”, while he also found time to read Homer, Virgil, Milton, Tasso, and many other authors in the literary canon. In this module, we think about Keats as a reader, focusing in particular on his poems ‘On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer’ and ‘Hyperion’.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Wilson, R. (2018, August 15). The Poetry of John Keats - Keats the Reader [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Wilson, R. "The Poetry of John Keats – Keats the Reader." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 15 Aug 2018,


Dr Ross Wilson

Dr Ross Wilson

University of Cambridge