ENGL623 - Readings in Eighteenth-Century English Literature

The Emotional Eighteenth Century

This course explores the relationship between emotions and imaginative writing and performance over in the Restoration and eighteenth centuries.  While sometimes called “The Age of Reason,” this period also witnessed a revolution in the understanding of emotions.  We will draw on recent scholarship on the history of emotion (William Reddy, Sarah Ahmed, Jan Plamper, Barbara Rosenwein, Thomas Dixon); affect theory (Sarah Ahmed; Teresa Brennan; Sianne Ngai); recent work in psychology/neuroscience (Lisa Feldman Barret, Richard Smith); and the rich and emerging vein of literary scholarship in the field that prompts us to think about the relationships in the period between the “revolution in feeling” and gender, the rise of capitalism, the consumer revolution, colonialism, and slavery.  Readings from the period will consist of a range of genres, with particular attention to philosophy, drama, and fiction, possibly including work from Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Adam Smith, David Hume, Francis Hutchenson, Lord Kames, Aphra Behn, Olaudah Equiano, Eliza Haywood, George Farquhar, Samuel Johnson, Daniel Defoe, Mary Astell, Jonathan Gay, Frances Burney, Joseph Addison, Sarah Fielding, Richard Steele, Charlotte Lennox, Matthew Lewis, Sophia Lee.

Meets the Long Eighteenth Century requirement in the MA Literature track