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Topics in 18th Century Literature

ENGL 241.301
instructor(s):
TR 12-1:30

Alexander Pope and Jonathan Swift (and a number of their friends who were writers and prominent politicians) have for twentieth-century readers and scholars come to represent the thought and feeling of their times, the early decades of the 18th century in England, the reigns of William III, Queen Anne, and George I. But these writers were in most ways profoundly disaffected from the political and cultural developments of those years, and the brilliant works Pope and Swift produced were for the most part expressions of opposition and even of disgust with their times and circumstances. We will read extensively in the works of Pope and Swift and their circle, writings both in prose and in verse, and we will seek to understand how they draw strength and complexity from their opposition to the moral and cultural decline they saw all around them. Students will be required to present several class reports and to write three papers, including a substantial (15-20 pages) final paper.