Faculty Course Description
ENG323W: Restoration and Eighteenth Century Literature
Dr. Paul Trolander
Office: Evans 229
Office phone: 233-4075
Course fulfills requirement for one British Literature period course for English Majors and can be taken for upper division elective credit. Prerequisite: One 200-level Literature course.
Eighteenth-century English Literature. Ed. G. Tillotson.
Tom Jones, by Henry Fielding. Signet Classic Edition.
A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, by Mary Wollstonecraft. Penguin Classics Edition.
Description: Irreverent, licentious, bawdy, irreligious, fanatical, overly-serious, obtuse, abusive, sanctimonious, self-righteous, prudish. British literature between the years 1661-1798 has been labeled all of these and more, a fact that points to the great contradictions that shaped English literary culture during this time. While Wycherly, Etherege and Farquhar were publishing some of the most high-spirited and bawdy sex comedies ever written in English, other writers, such as Alexander Pope and Jonathan Swift were admonishing their English brethren to reform in scathing satire. At mid-century, the contradiction between ribald humor and the moral propriety that humor was meant to teach became the driving force behind Henry Fielding's great comic novels and Hogarth's witty yet often gruesome etchings of London low life.
Later in the century, the moral strain in English prose created some of the most beautiful and lasting commentaries on the human condition in Johnson's essays, while the reaction to this moralizing incited equally enduring statements about the individual`s loneliness and despair in the lyrical poetry of Collins and Gray. As the century drew to a close, its tendency to question and criticize the Church and Monarchy as well as its tendency to shore up these authorities and punish "radical" behavior fueled an explosive controversy over the terrible violence of the French Revolution. The resulting political and literary rifts gave rise to the mystical visions of the "radical" Blake and the visceral prose of the "conservative" Edmund Burke.
The war between the sexes also raged. While male writers such as Pope and Addison used their essays and poetry to "instruct" the "weaker sex" about its filial duties and responsibilities, women writers such as Anne Finch and Lady Mary Montagu scoffed and even ridiculed their visions of female propriety. Regardless of their male competitors' sneers at their work, women writers really came into their own in the eighteenth century. The works of Anna Barbauld, Hannah More, Charlotte Smith and Joanna Baillie are testimonies to the fact that women were not simply proficient amateurs but successful professional writers and poets
Course Goals: The main goal of the course is to familiarize the student with the primary genres of Restoration and eighteenth-century literature, including, Comedy of Manners, Sentimental Comedy and Laughing Comedy; Tragedy; Social Satire and Mock Epic; Narrative, Lyric and Pastoral poetic modes; Comedic Novel; Familiar Essay; Social, Literary and Cultural Criticism. Another goal is introduce the student to eighteenth-century literary and artistic culture. To that end, we will look at eighteenth-century painters and artists, including, Watteau, Hogarth, Reynolds, Gainsborough, Boucher and Stubbs. A final but important aim is to develop the student's ability to evaluate, criticize and write about literature.
Midterm and Final: 40%
Papers (one 5 pages; one 10 pages): 40%