English 166

Special Topics: Aesthetics and the Environment in the Eighteenth Century

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Fall 2016 Picciotto, Joanna M
MWF 12-1 223 Dwinelle Pre-1800 Requirement
British 18th-Century
Special Topics

Book List

Burke: A Philosophic Enquiry into the Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and the Beautiful; Gilpin: On Picturesque Beauty; Goldsmith: Poems; Gray: Poems; Hogarth: Analysis of Beauty; Hutcheson: An Inquiry into the Original of our Ideas of Beauty and Virtue (Part 1: concerning Beauty, Order, Harmony, Design); Kame: Elements of Criticism; Shaftesbury: The Moralists, a Philosophical Rhapsody; Walpole: Essay on Modern Gardening

Other Readings and Media

Note:  Students will be given PDFs to access the texts.


Why do we take pleasure in contemplating the natural world? What sort of pleasure is this? The eighteenth century was preoccupied with this question, which abutted on others: What is beauty? Is it something we perceive directly, or do we experience it by more roundabout means? What concepts aside from beauty do we need to explain our pleasure? Is there a correlation between certain kinds of pleasure and certain environmental conditions? We will explore some influential attempts to grapple with these questions and use them as a guide to various forms of aesthetic practice in the period, focusing on poetry, with some excursions into the visual arts and landscape design.

Class requirements: Two short papers (5 pages) or one longer one (10 pages), a final exam, and mandated class participation, including informal presentations.

This section of English 166 satisfies the pre-1800 requirement for the English major.

Other Recent Sections of This Course

Spring, 2019
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166/1 Special Topics: Gothic Duncan, Ian
166/2 Special Topics: Marxism and Literature Gonzalez, Marcial
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166/5 Special Topics: Asian American Literature - World, Nation, Locality Leong, Andrew Way
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Fall, 2018
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166/2 Special Topics: Alfred Hitchcock Bader, Julia
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166/4 Special Topics: "this morning's minion": Sonic Mysticism in Gerard Manley Hopkins and Emily Dickinson Stancek, Claire Marie
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Spring, 2018
Course & Section Course Name Course Areas
166/1 Special Topics: Comedy & Violence Flynn, Catherine
166/2 Special Topics: Romantic Science Goldstein, Amanda Jo
166/3 Special Topics: Classical & Renaissance Drama Knapp, Jeffrey
166/4 Special Topics: Marxism & Literature Lye, Colleen
166/5 Special Topics: Emily Dickinson Shoptaw, John
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Summer, 2018
Course & Section Course Name Course Areas
166/1 Special Topics: Speculative Fictions, Possible Futures O'Brien, Geoffrey G.
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Fall, 2017
Course & Section Course Name Course Areas
166/3 Special Topics: Black Science Fiction Serpell, C. Namwali
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Course & Section Course Name Course Areas
166/1 Special Topics: Marxism and Literature Lye, Colleen
166/2 Special Topics: Studies in Literature and Environment (Shelter and Weather) Francois, Anne-Lise
166/3 Special Topics: Slavery and Conspiracy Wagner, Bryan
166/4 Special Topics: Literature in the Century of Film Goble, Mark
166/5 Special Topics: Modern Irish Literature Falci, Eric

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