English | Literatures in English 1600-1800
E302 | 2012 | Wertheim

11:15a-12:30p TR (30) 3 cr


What could be more pleasurable than reading some of the finest works in
the treasure chest of English literature, works written by men and women
of remarkable thoughtfulness and talent?  That's what we shall do in this
course.  The period 1600-1800 is particularly exciting because it
witnessed the development of secular literature as we now know it; charted
new attitudes toward love, marriage and gender roles; saw the start of
modern representative politics, the growth of capitalism, and the
beginnings of banking and modern economics.  It is also the period of
British exploration and colonial expansion.  And during this period, too,
Protestantism came into its own.  For good reason, then, this period is
sometimes called Early Modern.  In it we see the beginnings and the
foundation of modern life.  Not surprisingly, the literature of these two
hundred years is especially rich.

The seventeenth and eighteenth centuries are ones during which poetry
reigned: dazzling religious poetry, impressive secular (sometimes sexually
explicit) love poetry, and biting poetical satires.  We shall be reading
the poetry of John Donne, George Herbert, Ben Jonson, Andrew Marvell, John
Dryden, and Alexander Pope. In the seventeenth century, too, John Milton
produced the single greatest epic poem of the English language, PARADISE
LOST, from which we'll read some significant parts . As we cover the
poetry in this course, we'll want to talk about how one reads poetry
effectively, what the proper uses of poetry are, and what different sorts
of poetic forms (e.g. sonnet, epic, couplets) can and cannot achieve.

In this course we shall skip Shakespeare, since most members of the class
will surely be familiar with some of  his work already, but the time of
Shakespeare and the era that followed were arguably the finest periods of
English drama.  The course readings will, therefore, include plays by Ben
Jonson William Wycherley and Richard Brinsley Sheridan.  Whereas the
seventeenth century witnessed the flowering of English drama, the
eighteenth century saw the flowering of prose fiction and what was
eventually to be called the novel.  To get a feel for the fiction of the
period, we shall read Daniel Defoe's MOLL FLANDERS and parts of Jonathan
Swift's GULLIVER'S TRAVELS.  Some of our discussion will help us
understand what we look for and what questions we ask when we read drama
and when we read prose fiction.

Because E302 will be conducted primarily as a discussion course, so
attendance and class participation will have a strong impact on the final
grade.  There will be a midterm, a final, and a term paper.  The aim of
this course is to read widely and well in the rich and extraordinarily
rewarding body of literature written during the two centuries when England
was coming into its own as a nation state, as a colonial power, and as the
first modern economy.