English 246F

Graduate Proseminar: The Later-Eighteenth Century

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Fall 2019 Goodman, Kevis
W 3-6 106 Mulford

Book List

Burke, Edmund: A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and the Beautiful (Oxford); Burke, Edmund: Reflections on the Revolution in France (Oxford); Burney, Frances: Evelina (Norton); Johnson, Samuel: Selected Poetry and Prose [ed Wimsatt and Brady]; Johnson and Boswell: Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland; Tour of the Hebrides; Smith, Adam: Theory of Moral Sentiments (Liberty Fund); Sterne, Laurence: A Sentimental Journey (Penguin); Walpole, Horace: The Castle of Otranto (Oxford); Williams, Helen Maria: Letters, Written in France (Broadview); Wordsworth and Coleridge: Lyrical Ballads, 1798 and 1800 (Routledge);

Recommended: Williams, Raymond: Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society

Other Readings and Media

One Course Reader (possibly in two volumes). Location for purchase to be announced.


The later eighteenth century has presented literary historians with more than the usual challenges to periodization and organization by author, movement, or genre. The years between (roughly) 1740-1800 witnessed the proliferation of new genres in verse and prose alike, the transformation of existing ones, and the recovery of archaic forms. Proceeding with more of a chronological drift than in strict chronological order, we will try to do justice to the heterogeneity and eccentricity of the period, investigating its adjacent and overlapping concerns largely by topic and question. These will include: the emerging category of “literature” within letters or written material; aesthetic theory in relation to empiricism and science; the Scottish Enlightenment and theories of sympathy; skirmishes over the “common” tongue and the idea of “the people”; natural history and landscape description; the revival of romance before “Romanticism”; antiquarian impulses and forms (and forgeries); borders and peripheries within the nation; new international spaces and sentiment; experimental and revolutionary cultures. In addition to the primary texts, you will get an introduction to some of the critical discussions within later eighteenth-century and early Romantic studies.

The Course Reader (or Readers) will be the source of many of our readings, including the primary texts by Anna Barbauld, Hugh Blair, William Collins, William Cowper, Oliver Goldsmith, Lord Kames, Thomas Gray, David Hume, James Macpherson, Joseph Priestley, Christopher Smart, Charlotte Smith, Edward Young, as well as all of our secondary materials.

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