Course Instructor Days Times Room


Early eighteenth-century England witnessed the rise of the first professional authors—writers who wrote for the press and the market rather than for a coterie patronage system. New venues for publishing and (as well as for consuming) literature arose in this period. Printer/booksellers began to exercise considerable cultural power, and coffeehouses became important gathering points for those wishing to share the printed word.  The political world was divided as sharply (and almost as irreconcilably) as our own, a fact which led to the flourishing of satiric and polemical talents, in particular. Women writers also profited from the demand for new kinds of writing: narratives to be read in one’s closet (i.e. private room at home) or accounts  of travel to places most English men and women could  not expect to see. There were many tastes and curiosities to be gratified—and the authors of this period rose to the occasion. In this course, we will concentrate on the works of Daniel Defoe, Jonathan Swift, Alexander Pope, Joseph Addison and Richard  Steele,  along with writings by Delarivier Manley, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, and Eliza Haywood. Students should emerge from the semester’s work with a thorough understanding of the cultural importance of this period as well as grounding in the specific works which, though tied closely to the times in which they were produced, continue to speak to us as readers today. 


4 short (3-4 page) papers; a midterm; a final examination; course participation and weekly “virtual coffeehouse” discussions (explained below). Students will choose either to write a 10-12 page research paper or to compile a 15 item annotated bibliography on a focused research topic. In either case, you will schedule a consultation with me.


Virtual Coffeehouse: In an effort to replicate the atmosphere of eighteenth-century London, the first 20 minutes of class every Friday  will be a “virtual coffeehouse.” You will enter class and pick up a copy of a Tatler or Spectator essay which I will have distributed around the room. There will be copies of the same essay—but not enough to go around. So, you’ll need to read quickly and pass the essay along, then find someone else who has finished to talk to about the essay. You will also have been reading other early eighteenth-century works which you can also factor into the discussion. I will roam around listening to (and, of course, evaluating your contribution to the discussion). For those who want to read the essay in advance of Friday’s class (though it is not required), it will be posted on the ELC by 5 p.m. on Thurs. I know I’ve used “virtual” incorrectly here. At first, I was thinking we’d do this online, but I decided I preferred this “re-enactment” version, though I don’t think “Re-enacted” is exactly right either, as there’s no script! However, there will be coffee.