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Eighteenth-Century British Literature, Fall 2012

Students interested in this class should sign up on Newdle for a preview of the syllabus, attend the mini-class, and come to the first day. Doing all three will give you priority if you are not a first-year student for whom a number of seats are reserved.

Eighteenth-Century British Literature

Sex, Poetry, Promiscuous Theatres and Pleasure Gardens, Sensibility, Exotic Travels, Novels, Hybrid-genres, Colonialism, and More Good Stuff!

"View of all the principal masquerade figures at the rotunda May 12th, 1789"Courtesy of the Lewis Walpole Library, Yale University
Courtesy of the Lewis Walpole Library, Yale University



This course covers literature of eighteenth-century Britain (1700-1799), a period of great social and artistic change, sometimes identified as the "Augustan Age," the "Enlightenment," "Age of Johnson," or "Age of Sensibility. English literature ranges from formal poetic verse with classical roots to biting satire on contemporary political and social issues, from rakish tales and dramas to highly emotional fictions that take internal psychological states seriously, from travel accounts that compare every other place with the special greatness of the British isles to narratives that are highly critical of English and even western European assumptions about the world and about art. We will read poetry, novels, essays, travel narrative, drama, and satire in an attempt to uncover the roots of modern English literature. Attention will be paid to genre, the move from an educated reading public to a popular reading public, the context of historical and social change, and changing fashions in literary works. 


1) Regular attendance and preparation. More than three absences will jeopardize your ability to “sat” this class.

2) Class participation in discussion and preparation for each class meeting.

3) On-time and satisfactory completion of all written work, e.g.

•3 satisfactory short (5-6 page) papers

•1 final take-home exam, due as noted.

Late work will ONLY be accepted with prior notice of at least 2 days and instructor permission except in DIRE emergencies


NOTE: I really STRONGLY recommend you buy the editions listed below. We will refer to page numbers in class, some books lack chapters in this period, and the edition DOES make a difference.

If you purchase the reader from the bookstore, it should come with Robinson Crusoe in the right edition for free, so I recommend buying that there (make sure you get the right edition of the reader--in other years the content can be very different).

Downloading free versions of these works may mean that you get a corrupted or even an expurgated or Victorian edition, especially with
Fanny Hill—the oldest work of erotica in English continuously in print!

I've ordered a more college/university level "Norton Critical" edition of Susannah Rowson's early American novel, Charlotte Temple; the contextual and critical materials and notes will be particularly helpful with this lesser known novel.

Joseph Black et al., Anthology of British Literature: Vol. 3: The Restoration and the Eighteenth Century Broadview 2012 978-1-55111-611-1

Daniel Defoe , Robinson Crusoe Broadview 2010 1551119358

Samuel Richardson, Pamela Oxford UP 2001 0192829602

John Cleland, Fanny Hill or Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure Oxford UP 2008 978-0199540235

Olaudah Equiano, The Interesting Narrative Broadview 2001 1551112620

Susanna Rowson, Charlotte Temple, Norton Critical Ed, Norton, 2010 978-0393925388


Hay & Rogers Eighteenth-Century English Society Oxford UP 1997 0192891944

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