This course will focus on three
corresponding major periods in the canon of British and American literary
history–Restoration/Eighteenth-Century, British and American Romanticism, and
Nineteenth-Century British Victorian/American Realism–by looking at representative
literature by major authors of each period.
The particular works we will study have been chosen
because they best articulate the philosophy characterizing the literature of
each period, with a view to examining how authors writing in the same
historical framework both mirror and depart philosophically one from another. We
will also compare and contrast the literary periods themselves, how they
position themselves culturally, historically, and politically, paying
particular attention to the ways in which each period emerged as a reaction against the period before.
Because the reading load in this course is so heavy
and the breadth of material so wide, there are no outside papers required for
this course. Instead, following the study of each of the three literary periods
there will be a major examination in two parts. One part will be
IDENTIFICATION, which primarily involves the students responding in paragraph
form to selected passages from the reading; and the second will be ESSAY, where
students will bring in works of their own choosing from the material studied in
response to a comprehensive question about the period.