E302 0256 GUTJAHR
Literatures in English, 1600-1800
1:10P-2:25P D (30) 3 CR.
Whereas Darwinism took the world by storm at the end of the nineteenth century as a way to interpret the workings of the world, an earlier—and equally pervasive—attempt at such an all-inclusive interpretation was the Great Chain of Being. The Great Chain of Being argued that the world was ordered in a strictly hierarchical fashion: God stood at the top of all things, while such things as plant life were placed at the bottom. This course will examine texts that participated in a dialogue with the idea of the Great Chain of Being by exploring writers who, to varying degrees, either accepted or fought against this notion of cosmic ordering. We will begin with Milton’s famous poem on God’s relationship to His creation and end with various notions of the common man which circulated around the time of the American Revolution. Along with frequent reading quizzes, there will be both long and short papers. The readings will be intense and diverse. Be prepared to work hard if you sign up for this class.
Texts may include: Milton’s Paradise Lost, Shakespeare’s Henry V, Behn’s Oroonoko, Defoe’s Moll Flanders, Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Franklin’s Autobiography; Brown’s Wieland, Chesterfield’s Letters to My Son, Paine’s Common Sense, and a course reading packet.