English 119

Literature of the Restoration and the Early 18th Century


Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Spring 2021 Turner, James Grantham
TTh 11-12:30

Description

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, influential novels like Robinson Crusoe and Gulliver’s Travels, the most amusing comedies, and the most outrageous obscenity. London (already the largest city in the world) was shut down by a deadly plague, then burned to the ground – does this sound familiar? We will begin by reading and analyzing contemporary accounts of this catastrophe. Yet within a few generations London bounced back, for better or worse: this period invented great literature, architecture and music, the scientific revolution, insurance and paper money, but also the stock market and the colonial empire based on slavery. We will explore the contrasts and contradictions as well as the abundance and brilliance. Canonical figures like 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. Dominant themes, always treated with devastating wit and skeptical realism, include sexuality and identity, the politics of gender as well as nation, and the representation of “other” cultures (Surinam, West Africa, Ireland, Ottoman Turkey, cannibals, giants, talking horses).

All our readings will be available to download.

This course satisfies the pre-1800 requirement for the English major.

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