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Seduction in Literature

ENGL 343.401
MWF 1-2

The seduction and betrayal of innocence is a thematic preoccupation for British writers in the century following the Glorious Revolution. Their representations of seduction interrogate not only particular kinds of sexual relationships but also some of the largest political questions being asked in post-revolutionary British discourse -- questions about agency, autonomy, authority and responsibility. In this seminar, we shall examine novels, drama poetry, and expository prose, asking questions like these: Why were plots of seduction so important during the eighteenth century? How did the eighteenth century define seduction? How and why did it distinguish seduction from rape, and what was at stake in the distinction? How did eighteenth-century writers represent female desire, male desire? How might the theme of sexual betrayal be related to developing legal theories of contract and consent, or to changing structures of political authority?

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