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English 422: Women Writers in Britain, 1660-1815

  • This course surveys works by women writers in Britain and its colonies from 1660-1815. In addition to our focus on women writers, we will also be particularly attentive to the ways that gender organizes economic, political, legal, medical, and cultural experience.


The work that we will do together this semester depends heavily on your participation in class. Participating in class means showing up on time, being prepared to discuss the reading, and being willing to participate in class activities. I can’t stress enough how important your participation is to your grade. If you miss more than three classes, you can expect your final grade to suffer. If you have a medical emergency, it is helpful if you call my office before the fact of your absence.

Throughout the semester, we will have panel presentations of three to four students from the class who will present brief, related reports on British culture and history that will illuminate our readings. I very much encourage you to collaborate on this presentation and to let your creativity into the process. (No one likes boring student presentations, including the professor). The response papers to the units may address any aspect or selection from the reading. The goal of the response is to explore an idea or text that interested you. These short, two-page papers will give you a chance to make a more composed responses to our discussions and also (ideally) serve as the basis for a final paper, for which you will be expected to do some research.

As a special activity in this class, we will present a brief scene from a play to some students and professors who will gather here in Knoxville for the 1999 meeting of the South-Eastern American Society for Eighteenth Century Studies. Aside from its unfortunate acronym (SEASECS), the conference offers you a delightful opportunity to see an academic conference and to participate in a performance. There will be jobs for the thespian and the wallflower. We will discuss this project at great length in class.

The breakdown of grades in this class is as follows:

Participation: 25% (panels, performance, discussion)
Response papers: 25%
Research paper: 25%
Final exam: 25%

Required Texts:

  • Robert De Maria, ed.British Literature 1640-1789: An Anthology
  • Lyons and Morgan, eds.,Female Playwrights of the Restoration
  • Katherine Rogers, ed.,Restoration and Eighteenth-Century Plays by Women
  • Maria Edgeworth, Castle Rackrent
  • Frances Burney, Evelina, St. Martinís edition
  • Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility

Web Resources

The Restoration and eighteenth century boast many wonderful sites. The following list takes you to a few of them.

  • Jack Lynch’s Eighteenth Century Resources
    This is absolutely the best place to start. It also has a search engine to help you find information by topic, writer, or keyword.
  • The Bluestocking Archive
    This site will acquaint you with the Bluestockings, a group of women writers and intellectuals of the later eighteenth century, called the Bluestockings (or “Bas Bleaus”) a name that (probably)makes reference to some of the poorer members (including men) who attended in daytime clothes, which would have included blue worsted wool stockings.
  • The Aphra Behn Society Homepage
    While this is probably of more interest to academics who participate in the society, the site has some good information on Behn and will give you a sense of professional interest in her work.
  • The London Gazette
    This is a searchable database of articles from a very important eighteenth-century newspaper. It’s a good way to start research on an early- to mid-eighteenth century project. You might also find the following library and research links helpful. The Johns Hopkins guide allows you to get background on terms from literary theory that may come into our discussion.
  • Project Muse
    Journals and articles from Johns Hopkins Press.
  • The Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory
  • Library Guide to  English Language and Literature (assembled for UTK Libraries by Steven R. Harris, the librarian for English)