The Enlightenment creates modern ideas of the self, a just society, and reformed institutions. The course explores six interrelated developments: (1) taking nothing on authority, a spirit of critique examines knowledge, religion, and government; (2) the spread of general knowledge to populations of increasing literacy; (3) debates about human nature—naturally selfish or sympathetic, altered by race or gender, innate or learned?
Significant critical orientations: modernism, classicism, romanticism, the New Criticism, structuralism and post-structuralism, as well as feminism, formalism, and other -isms. Theoretical formulations yet also practical criticism, history of criticism, and critical writings oriented toward psychology, language, and cultural contexts. Aristotle, Horace, Johnson, Coleridge, Schiller, Arnold, Wilde, Eliot, Shklovsky, Freud, Foucault, Barthes, Showalter, Derrida, Sontag, Frye, Cixous, and others.
Concentrates on poems before 1820: The Ruined Cottage, Home at Grasmere, Lyrical Ballads, The Prelude, sonnets, Poems of 1807 and collected poems of 1815; also selected later work. The seminar explores Wordsworth’s thematic and formal originality, engagement with nature, moral imagination, his own critical writing, relation to earlier poets, Coleridge’s admiration and critique of his achievement, and recent critical assessments.
will examine the works of Samuel Johnson, James Boswell (Johnson's biographer), Edmund Burke, Mary Wollstonecraft, Edward Gibbon, Oliver Goldsmith, Frances Burney, Robert Burns, and others. Essays, biography, political and historical writing, poetry, and the novel.
Readings in Blake, Baillie, Coleridge, Clare, Wordsworth, Wollstonecraft, Byron, Shelley, Keats, and others. Lyric and narrative forms. Close aesthetic readings linked to thematic considerations. Social and political contexts. Romanticism as an artistic movement and cultural era.
Dryden, Pope, Swift, Johnson, Burke, Gibbon, Montagu, and others; the lyric, periodical literature, satire, biography, and drama; relations of engaged literature with politics, religion, history; issues of audience, gender, class, genre, and canon. Note: An intensive introduction to 18th-century literature at the graduate level. Presupposes no previous acquaintance with field. Graduate students who have studied 18th-century literature should consult with the instructor. Open to qualified honors undergraduates.
Rhetorical theory, originating with Aristotle, in contemporary applications. The nature of rhetoric in modern culture; practical examples drawn from American history and literature 1765 to the present; written exercises and attention to public speaking; the history and educational importance of rhetoric in the West; stresses theory and practice as inseparable.