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From the Age of Johnson to the era of the transatlantic slave trade, from the Age of Reason to the cult of sensibility: the eighteenth century has been many different things to many different scholars. Since the founding of the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies in 1967 (and of the International Society, more than a decade later), the long eighteenth century (1688-1815) has also been institutionalized as one of the most established sites of self-proclaimed inter- and multi-disciplinary conversation within the academy. This course aims to introduce students to some of those discussions. Our focus will be on key eighteenth-century texts and recent interpretative debates but we will also be attentive to the history of the field itself. How, we will ask, have our chronologies and geographies of the eighteenth century changed over the past fifty years, and why? How has the field responded to (and perhaps shaped) broader shifts in the study of literature, history, and the arts? All required readings will be in English but students with relevant expertise are encouraged to write on non-English materials.



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