L320 1960 NASH
Restoration and Early Eighteenth-Century Literature

1:00p-2:15p MW (30) 3 cr.

TOPIC: “WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY ‘PUBLIC SPHERE’?”

This course will take as its starting point Jurgen Habermas’s The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere. Beginning with his observation that in England at the end of the seventeenth- and the beginning of the eighteenth- centuries there opened up a discursive space mediating between the private citizen and state authorities, we will examine the roles played by literature in shaping, changing, and resisting the ideas of ‘public-ness’ and publicity that we more or less take for granted today. While we may glance back to some of the later works of the Restoration, our emphasis will fall heavily on the early eighteenth century--most heavily on the consolidation of the Walpole administration immediately preceding and following the death of George I and the succession of George II. As this narrative suggests, we will be insistent in reading literature in its historical context. Authors will include Pope, Swift, Gay, Arbuthnot, and Defoe, and may include Dryden, Otway, Rochester, Behn, Wortley-Montague, Finch, Hogarth, or Fielding, among others. Students will write one short (3-5 page) and one longer (6-10 page) paper, and may be asked to lead class discussion.