- Course Number: ENGL 102
Writing 2, or 50, or 109, or English 10 or upper-division standing.
- Catalog Course Entry: ENGL 102
- Quarter: Winter 2021
In 1650, England was an island nation torn apart by a vicious civil war; by 1789, the United Kingdom had a flourishing global economy and was on its way to becoming the world’s dominant empire, despite the recent loss of the American colonies. This course investigates the literature and culture of the period in between to understand how textual production both reflected and shaped the era’s major concerns—and how we are still feeling this period’s impact. While it has conventionally been known as the Age of Enlightenment, with an ideology of secular, rational progress, the “long eighteenth century” was also marked by intense political factions, belief in superstition and sorcery, a precarious social and economic situation for women, the growth of chattel slavery, and a “cult” of individual feeling and emotion. The realm of literature was reshaped by a boom in the print marketplace, which both democratized knowledge and circulated hoaxes, falsehoods, and conspiracies. Much like today, new genres of writing made it difficult for readers to know whom and what to trust. As we explore the reverberations of eighteenth-century thought, our readings will move back and forth between past and present. In recent moves to “write back” to the eighteenth century, we can see and question the origins of many modern modes of thought.
The lectures will be recorded and available asynchronously.