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Swift and his Circle

ENGL 540.401
instructor(s):
W 9-12:00

 Jonathan Swift (1667 - 1745) wrote one of the great English classics, Gulliver's Travels (1726), and one of the two most difficult books in the cannon of English literature, A Tale of a Tub (1704), but we tend too focus on him for these classics and a few prose works which anthologizers admire. This course, by contrast, treats Swift and his contemporaries as Swift interacts with Pope, Gay, the Scriblerian circle, his circle of Irish friends, his relationship with a circle of women admirers and collaborators, and his disciples. We will read Swift's major writings, of course, so that his primacy as the greatest satirist in English becomes clear, yet we will also examine Swift's love of the bagatell, of light verse, and of codes and ciphers and games. We will see him as the creator of a tradition that would continue with Sterne, Carroll, Lear, and Housman -- as the father of light verse -- and we will see his constant love of the homo ludens side of literature. Yet at the same time we will see Swift as a serious exponent of anti-colonialism (here of the colony Ireland) before colonialism emerged as a major issue in Western thought.

Fulfills X & X requirements.