ENGL623 - Readings in Eighteenth-Century English Literature
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This course will explore the ways in which Restoration and 18th-century drama functioned as both a mirror held up to a sophistical social world and as a cosmopolitan point of entry to Britain’s expanding empire and the globe at large. With razor wit and devastating insight, the comedies explore the effects of modernity on desire, marriage, sexuality, gender, love, ambition, and security. Both comedies and tragedies, however, often explore these tensions in the context of the nation's commercial, imperial, and colonial ambitions by setting plays in exotic locations, suggesting the global foundations of local wealth, and exploring the possibilities of virtue in a commercial world, often through analogies between material and erotic desire. Authors may include William Wycherely, Aphra Behn, John Dryden, Susanna Centlivre, Joseph Addison, George Etherege, George Lillo, John Gay, Elizabeth Inchbald, R.B. Sheridan, and Richard Cumberland.