Dec 02, 2023  
Catalogue 2021-2022 
Catalogue 2021-2022 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

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ENGL 247 - Eighteenth-Century British Novels

Semester Offered: Fall
1 unit(s)
Readings vary but include worlds by such novelists as Defoe, Richardson, Fielding, Smollett, Sterne, and Austen.

Topic for 2021/22a: Miss Behavior: Transgressive Women in 18th-Century British Fiction. (Same as WMST 247 ) The focus of this course is eighteenth-century English fiction that features “girls gone wild,” women who violate the stringent social codes dictating their behavior in this period. We read a range of critical texts—some contemporary to us, and others contemporary to the 18th-century writers on our syllabus—to learn what constituted “misbehavior” for women, and who was making the rules. Conduct books, educational treatises, periodical literature, pamphlets and political writings give us a cultural context, and prepare us to examine how fiction writers were reflecting and reshaping codes of conduct for their own social, political and artistic ends. Because the act of writing itself often constituted misbehavior for eighteenth-century women, texts by women differ considerably from those by men with regard to topics, style and genre. In the first half of the course, we see male authors diversely imagining female cross-dressers, “female husbands” (a contemporary term for women who sought to partner with other women), prostitutes, witches, sadists and pleasure-seekers. In the second half, we see women writers working in two literary modes—the gothic, and the novel of manners—to respond to oppressive societal concerns about femininity and modesty. Students leave this course not only with a strong sense of the cultural history of female comportment in eighteenth-century England, but also having looked closely at how these pervasive social codes interacted with literary form to shape the fiction of the period. Katie Gemmill.

This course satisfies one of the two pre-1800 requirements and the REGS requirement for the English major.

Two 75-minute periods.

Course Format: CLS

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