English 120

: Scotland in the Eighteenth Century

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Spring 2008 Sorensen, Janet
Sorensen, Janet
TTh 2-3:30 123 Wheeler

Other Readings and Media

Broadie, A., ed.: The Scottish Enlightenment: An Anthology; Hume, D.: An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding; Johnson, S. & J. Boswell.: A Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland / Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides; Mackenzie, H.: The Man of Feeling; Smollett, T.: The Expedition of Humphry Clinker; Burns, R.: Selected Poems; Baillie, J.: Plays on the Passions; Ferrier, S.: Marriage; Scott, W.: Rob Roy; Hogg, J., Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner; in addition to the books listed, we will be working from a course reader.


The official title for this course is �The Age of Johnson.� Although we�ll be reading Samuel Johnson�s masterpiece of philosophical tourism, A Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland, this is not a course on �the age of Johnson� but on writing in Scotland in the second half of the long eighteenth century�the Age of Hume, of Burns, and of Scott, if it has to be called the age of anyone, which it probably shouldn�t. The course encompasses the so-called Scottish Enlightenment, a major European movement (1740-1795) of literary and scientific modernization based in the university towns of Lowland Scotland, as well as the post-Enlightenment boom of commercial publishing in Edinburgh (1800-1830), with innovations in periodicals and fiction that defined the nineteenth-century public sphere. The Scots may not have �invented the modern world� (as one book title boasts), but they invented some of the key discourses for imagining it, from political economy to historical romance. We will be reading works from the mainstream genres of the Scottish Enlightenment, in moral philosophy and the human sciences, by David Hume, Adam Smith, Adam Ferguson, and others, alongside the eighteenth-century projects of Scottish poetry that founded a European and North Atlantic Romanticism, including James Macpherson�s scandalous invention of ancient Highland epic and Robert Burns�s poetic synthesis of a �language really spoken by men.� And we�ll consider the rise of the Scottish novel in the period, from satirical Smollett and sentimental Mackenzie to national and historical fiction by Scott and his rivals looking back across Scotland �s century of modernization.

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