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EN330 Eighteenth-Century Literature

This module is a Pathway Approved Option on the English Pathway and a Distributional Requirement on all other Pathways.


Convenor - Teresa Grant (t dot grant at warwick dot ac dot uk)

Co-taught with David Taylor (D dot F dot Taylor at warwick dot ac dot uk)

2016/17 - seminars: Thursday 10:30 - 12:00 and 13:00 - 14:30 Room H501.


This course, open to second and third year students, aims to give a broad introduction to the literature and culture of eighteenth-century Britain. We will read a roughly equal selection of plays, novels, diaries, poems, and letters organized into themes that capture aspects of eighteenth-century life: drama the rise of the novel, satire, and finally space and landscape.

Drama: Theatre was a central institution, artform, and trope in the development of eighteenth-century culture. The period sees the passing of legislation that places the stage under conditions of increased censorship and regulation but also - arguably in reponse to such restrictions - continual experimentation and innovation in the forms and structures of dramas. We will look at four plays, two by women, that mark important moments in this history.

The novel: This is a period when the novel as we know it first appears and when the audience for literature and the availability of print expands enormously. One set of questions guiding the course will therefore address literature’s relation to “real” life, a category we will investigate itself as we read reports on everyday practices. How does the novel reflect or distort experience? How does reading change the way people live? How is the fate of realism connected to the possibility of making the lives and habits of normal individuals appealing?

Satire: The eighteenth-century – the first half especially – is the greatest period of satire in English literary history. We will pay close attention to forms and techniques of satire and to the kinds of work, social, ethical and ideological, that it performs. What are its imperatives? Does it use ridicule to reform or to injure, and to what extent are these aims mutually constitutive? And is satire borne of a position of confidence, precarity, or anxiety?

Space and landscape: This period is marked by fundamental transformations in people’s experience and conceptions of space, borders, and mobility: the United Kingdom is established; London emerges as a discernably “modern” city at the centre of a rapidly expanding empire; and the values and communities of rural Britain are increasingly threatened by urbanization and industrialization. We will look at works that are urgently engaged in responding to these changes and the new forms of cultural and political identity fashioned to accommodate them.


Texts for Purchase (on order at University Bookshop)

Jane Austen, Mansfield Park, ed. Claudia Johnson (Norton, 1998)

Frances Burney, Evelina, ed. Vivien Jones and Edward A. Bloom (Oxford, 2008)

John Cleland, Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure (Oxford, 2008)

Elizabeth Inchbald, A Simple Story (Oxford, 2009)

Samuel Johnson, Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland / Boswell, Journal of a Tour of the Hebrides, ed. Peter Levi (Penguin, 1984).

Samuel Richardson, Pamela, ed. Thomas Keymer (Oxford, 2008)

Jonathan Swift, Gulliver’s Travels, ed. Claude Rawson (Oxford, 2008)

Photocopy Packet including ALL OTHER READINGS is available from the English office (price TBC).

Digital Resources: A key resource is Eighteenth-Century Collections Online which contains online early editions of all the set texts and excellent search facilities. It can be an invaluable resource for primary research but should NOT be used instead of properly edited, modern editions of the set texts.