At the end of the course, the student:
• will be able to critically analyze literary productions from the seventeenth and eighteenth century in the context of the most important historical developments in that period;
• can identify some of the period’s major literary genres, such as the Shakespearean sonnet, metaphysical poetry and the Gothic novel;
• can apply various theoretical perspectives, such as colonialism and New Historicism, to their reading of texts from this era;
• should have a comprehensive grasp of the literary and cultural developments of the 17th and 18th century and thereby be able to better understand the cultural and literary productions of the centuries that followed.
The seventeenth century in Britain is known as an age of revolutions, the eighteenth century as an age of liberalism and enlightenment. Literature and culture from these two centuries engages with developments in Britain which marked its transition from a feudal to a modern society. During the first half of this course we will examine seventeenth-century literature and culture in all its forms: from political pamphlets to scientific treatises, and from tragedy to the sonnet. We will study a wide range of cultural expressions in relation to the contexts of this age during which England developed into a powerful Protestant imperialist country, during which science and experimental philosophy drastically changed people’s perceptions of the world and during which the nation was both unified and divided on the subject of the monarchy. We will pay attention to the emergence of print culture, the distinction between courtly and public literary settings and forms, and how these distinctions disappeared during the Restoration; the early voices of women writers; the influence of religion on literature and culture as well as the rise of Britain as an empire. The eighteenth century in Britain was characterised by many important changes: it not only saw the replacement of the Stuart monarchy by the House of Hannover, but also the growing importance of the new middle class, a turn from reason to sentimentality, an extension of the public sphere, a transformation of the countryside, and the introduction of new genres in literature. In the second half of this course, we will explore eighteenth-century texts by British writers in their rich historical cultural contexts, paying attention to the emerging periodical culture, the rise and development of the novel, satire, emancipatory voices and ideas, the Gothic genre, nature and landscape and the cult of sensibility.|