E302 2066 LYNCH
Literatures in English, 1600-1800

5:45p-7:00p MW (30) 3 CR.

TOPIC: “The World Turned Upside Down”

In the survey of literatures in English during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries we’ll be examining how authors on both sides of the Atlantic responded to the moral and cognitive challenges of times that were marked by imperial encounters and political revolutions. “The World” was “Turned Upside Down” on multiple occasions in these years. (The phrase I’ve selected for our course’s subtitle in fact names both a tune sung in the streets at the time of the beheading of King Charles the First of England and a tune played by a military band at the moment, almost 140 years later, when General Cornwallis surrendered to the Americans at the close of the American War of Independence.) Over the course of the semester we’ll use literature to think about how Britons’ encounters with the alien customs of “new worlds” (worlds new to them alone, of course) altered their sense of their home base and made what was familiar strange in its turn. We’ll engage with transformations of the political landscape of the trans- Atlantic world as we contemplate the fall of monarchs, the rise of a new middle class, and the exact nature of that reorganizing of the body politic that goes by the name of Revolution. We’ll also engage politics in more domestic terms and wonder, along with the wonderful eighteenth-century English poet Mary Leapor, about what sort of political establishment made “Man the Succession of private Kings.” Throughout, we’ll be thinking about the sometimes subversive authority that multiple authors of this era – a group extending from John Milton and Aphra Behn in the seventeenth century to Alexander Pope and Olaudah Equiano in the eighteenth – claimed as they turned their readers’ sense of reality topsy-turvy and dared to imagine new worlds that lacked the sanction of precedent or tradition. Our principal text will be an anthology, either volume 1c of The Norton Anthology of English Literature or Robert DeMaria’s anthology British Literature 1640-1789, most likely supplemented by a few inexpensive paperback editions (for instance, of Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography and/or Oliver Goldsmith’s She Stoops to Conquer). Requirements for the course: attendance, thoughtful participation, three essays and an equal number of less orthodox assignments.