English 246F

Graduate Proseminar: The Later-Eighteenth Century

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Fall 2009 Sorensen, Janet
Sorensen, Janet
MW 12-1:30 305 Wheeler

Other Readings and Media

Provisional book list: Richardson, S.: Pamela; Fielding, H.: Shamela, Joseph Andrews; Burney, F., Evelina; Johnson, S.: selections from his literary criticism, his Dictionary, and Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland; Piozzi, H.: from Johnsoniana; Collins, W., Leapor, M., Cowper, W., Gray. T., Goldsmith, O., Crabbe, G.: selections from the poetry; Smith, A. Theory of Moral Sentiments; Hume, D.: Treatise of Human Nature; Sterne, L., A Sentimental Journey; Walpole, H.: Castle of Otranto; Percy, T.: Reliques of Ancient English Poetry; Macpherson, J., Ossian Poems; Talbot, C.: Imitations of Ossian


In this survey of British literature post 1740, we shall consider the ways in which literature responded to and at times facilitated and shaped major transformations in the period’s print culture and market relationships. This broad organizing principle lends itself to a wide range of possible critical topics. Those we might pursue include: changes in fiction writing that we now associate with the emergence of the genre of the novel—a term rejected by the period’s fiction writers precisely because of its associations with a crass literary marketplace; the institutionalization of criticism as a profession, in part as a means of negotiating new terms of value; the perceived crisis regarding the status of the poet in a literary market; women’s negotiation of the scandalous publicity of authorship; the discourse in sentiment and sympathy that might overcome the social atomization threatened by capital relations; the turn toward history, especially national history, as another means of social consolidation; new epistemological possibilities opened up by and challenging the period’s conceptualizations of print, empiricism, and historicism. Along with the primary texts, readings will include related secondary critical material.

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