This course takes as its object of study the interrelationships between literary form, political power, economic change, and sexual attitudes in Restoration and early eighteenth-century British culture. The literary period we are investigating is explicitly defined by political events, the most conspicuous of which was the restoration of Charles II to the throne in 1660. As we inquire into the literature of this period, we will necessarily inquire into its political and social history, which include an understanding of economics, domestic life, fashion, race relations, sexuality, and colonial activity. The very public forms of textual expression in the period, including a restored national theater, the familiar essay, literary criticism, and the periodical, are supported by what we may think of as more private forms, including the diary, the letter, and the “novel” novel. This interrelation of public and private suggests a dialectical process through which consciousness was shaped and instructed; I propose to you that the eighteenth century “taught” itself to think in new (or more socially coherent) ways about the individual and society.
The following chart breaks down the distribution of your grade. Response papers are due on Fridays. I will not always issue prompts or topics for these brief essays, so get into the habit of framing your own questions and continuing class discussions in your responses. You are at liberty to choose the due dates for your responses, but you must complete at least two before the midterm. They should be one to two typed double-spaced pages. You will need to complete a total of five responses to receive credit for this portion of your grade. Graduate students must submit a final paper to receive credit for the course. Graduate students should meet with me before the end of September to discuss their plans and goals for the course.
- The Longman Anthology of Literature, 1C: The Restoration and the Eighteenth Century, ed. Stuart Sherman.
- Robinson Crusoe, Daniel Defoe (Norton, 2nd. edition)
- Gulliver’s Travels, Jonathan Swift (Bedford/St. Martin’s)
- Restoration and Eighteenth-Century Comedy (Norton)
- A Bold Stroke for a Wife , Susanna Centlivre (Broadview)
- Reserve Materials, Hodges Reserve (on-line)