English | Literatures in English, 1600-1800
E302 | 26961 | Penelope Anderson

Penelope Anderson

26961 - 2:30p-3:45p TR (30 students) 3 cr. A&H.

TOPIC:  "The Lure of the New"

The years 1600-1800 saw revolutions, religious upheaval, colonial
expansion, and dramatic changes in the status of women and the lower
classes.  In this course, we will read representative English and
American literature from a wide range of genres:  drama, lyric and
epic poetry, philosophical prose, travel narratives, and at least
one novel.  Our main topic for consideration will be the lure of the
new:  how does exploration of the Americas provoke a crisis in
perception as well as the desire to conquer?  how does the
devastation of civil war demand new thinking about the political
bonds that hold communities together?  how do new genres emerge in
relation to changing intellectual concerns?

Throughout, we will consider the relation of novelty in the
seventeenth and eighteenth centuries to our current sense of this
literature as, perhaps, inaccessibly old.  Does this literature seem
old to us because it does not speak to current concerns, or because
we have so thoroughly absorbed its concerns that they no longer seem
fresh?  And how might we shift the terms of those conversations?

We will read the following texts (and some others as well):
Shakespeare’s The Tempest; lyric poems by John Donne, George
Herbert, and Andrew Marvell that imagine everything from the female
body to a man’s life as new worlds; Margaret Cavendish’s Assaulted
and Pursued Chastity, which takes its heroine through countries
inhabited by orange and purple people; Anne Bradstreet’s poems about
America (and England); Lady Mary Wortley Montagu’s letters
describing a British perspective on eighteenth-century Turkey;
Alexander Pope’s view of consumer culture in The Rape of the Lock;
and a novel, most likely Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels.

Requirements for the course will include regular attendance and
active participation; two formal papers; at least one oral
presentation; several short, informal writing assignments; a
midterm; and a final exam.