English 119

Upper Division Coursework: The Augustan Age

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Fall 2008 Turner, James Grantham
Turner, James
TTh 2-3:30 101 Wurster

Other Readings and Media

"The Norton Anthology of English Literature, 8th edition, Volume C, The Restoration and the Eighteenth Century; Wycherley, W.: The Country Wife



"The period from the ""Restoration"" of Charles II (1660) to the death of Alexander Pope (1744) produced the last poems of Milton, the first English pornography and feminist polemic, the most devastating satires ever written, some of the most influential novels, the most amusing comedies, and the most outrageous obscenity. London (already the largest city in the world) burned to the ground -we will begin the course by reading contemporary accounts of this catastrophe -but within a few generations had developed all the benefits of modern civilization: a stock market, a scientific revolution, an insurance industry, a colonial empire based on slavery. This course will try to convey not only the abundance and brilliance of this period, but its contrasts and contradictions. Canonical figures like Milton, Hobbes, Dryden, Congreve, Pope and Swift will be juxtaposed to scandalous and/or marginal authors: women writers like Aphra Behn, Mary Astell and Mary Wortley Montagu, Puritan outlaws like John Bunyan, and renegade aristocrats like the Earl of Rochester. This stylish but realistic literature tackles fundamental questions: How can a culture restore its self-confidence after a devastating civil war? Is the success of society incompatible with morality? Does reason help us to lead a better life, or is it a cruel delusion? How can men and women live together in a civilized world? What resourses are available for those who are excluded from this ""civilization,"" especially the enslaved and the colonized? Is this ""the best of all possible worlds""? If not, are irony and humor absolutely necessary to make existence bearable? Are babies tastier roasted or boiled?

Most of our readings come from the Norton Anthology, plus Wycherley's sex-farce The Country Wife.

The class will be a mixture of informal lectures and class discussions, normally on questions already assigned during the previous class; you should come prepared to participate as fully as possible, and I may sometimes give out small written assignments to help you prepare. You will be graded on class participation, the occasional quiz, a short essay (7-10 pages) due about mid term, and a final examination that will include passages to identify and another written essay."

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