English 45B

Literature in English: Late 17th- Through Mid-19th Centuries

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
2 Fall 2011 Goldsmith, Steven
Goldsmith, Steven
MW 2-3 + discussion sections F 2-3 159 Mulford

Other Readings and Media

Norton Anthology of English Literature, Vol C, Restoration and Eighteenth Century; Norton Anthology of English Literature, Vol D, Romantic Period; Austen, Jane: Pride and Prejudice; Brown, Charles B: Wieland; Franklin, Benjamin: Autobiography; Melville, Herman: Billy Budd and Other Stories; Shelley, Mary: Frankenstein


Our course begins at sea, with the “violent storm” and shipwreck of Gulliver’s Travels, and ends at sea in Benito Cereno, with a tragic convergence of Europe, America, and Africa, just off “a small, desert, uninhabited island toward the southern extremity of the long coast of Chili.” These scenes of dislocation correspond to the rise of modernity that forms our topic. Eighteenth- and nineteenth-century modernity involves a variety of new or accelerating instabilities: epistemological uncertainty; cultural relativism in newly imagined global contexts; the transformation of economic value from land to (liquid) capital; linguistic self-consciousness in a rapidly expanding print culture; and altered forms of subjectivity navigating the new political rhetoric of republicanism, freedom, and individualism. The subtitle of Wieland sums up our course in a word: “The Transformation.” Throughout, we will ask what literary anxieties and opportunities such “transformation” entails, at a time when everything solid—self, world, and society—turns fluid, as if at sea.

Please note that this class will first meet on Monday, August 29; discussion sections will not start being held until Friday, September 2.

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