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Traveling Tales: Exploration and Encounter in late-17th and 18th-Century Writing

ENGL 2030.301
MW 3:30-4:59pm


Stories located elsewhere, and protagonists who travelled outside England or Great Britain, were vital to the novelty, creativity, and popularity of literary writing in this period. We will read prose, including novels, drama, and the occasional poem, to see how traveling tales (as well as travelers) contributed to the making of the English literary tradition. In doing so, we will also attend to these cultural forms as the building blocks of colonial discourse, that is, the representation of racial, cultural, and religious differences in ways that furthered British territorial and commercial expansion. We will read Aphra Behn, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, Henry Nevile, Daniel Defoe, Samuel Johnson, the pirate-scientist William Dampier, John Gay, Olaudah Equiano (among others) to see how such traveling tales constituted the “imagination of empire,” as well as grounds to contest its assumptions about human difference.One short essay, one final research paper, bi-weekly discussion posts


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