Essay Assignment on D.G. Rossetti

This topic was one of three options for the students' second paper. Most students chose this one over two more traditional assignments (a comparison/contrast between the depiction of nature in The Origin of Species and Hopkins's poetry; a discussion of Browning's "Bishop Bloughram's Apology" as a response to Newman's Apologia) that did not employ the WWW. In their rough drafts, students generally just catalogued the differences in the four versions. Most managed in revision to discuss the interpretive implications of some of these differences, but only one or two wove these differences into a coherent, overarching argument.

Dante Rossetti's "The Blessed Damozel" was originally published in 1850 (in a magazine called The Germ), but was revised and republished on two separate occasions, in 1856 (when it appeared in the Oxford and Cambridge Magazine) and 1870 (in the first edition of Rossetti's Poems). During the 1870s, Rossetti painted a picture of it, thus offering what can be seen as a fourth version. Write a paper that analyzes the various versions of the poem and explains the significance of Rossetti's revisions for some specific aspect of the poem, such as its depiction of gender or gender relations. (The three published versions, the painting, and commentaries on the poem are available on the World Wide Web at the D.G. Rossetti Hypermedia Research Archive.)