Spring 2022 Undergraduate English Courses

358:435 Seminar: From Libertism to Sentiment: English Drama and Culture, 1660-1737

 01  MW5  3:50-5:10PM  CAC  08268   BUCKLEY  FH-B2

From Libertinism to Sentiment: English Drama and Culture, 1660-1737

This seminar takes a close look at one of the most remarkable and consequential periods in the history of English drama and culture--a period, much like our own, during which values, tastes, and conceptions of the self and of society shifted with exceptional speed and became polarized, contested, and re-negotiated in an open conflict of basic values and beliefs. We'll read some of the most loved and most hated drama ever written, and we'll gain, too, an introduction to some of the most radical and most conservative playwrights in the English tradition. In addition, we'll spend a semester deeply immersed in one of the most utterly fascinating historical contexts of English cultural history: the strikingly modern, yet almost impossibly unfamiliar world of Restoration and early 18th-century London. Our focus will be on plays and dramatic theory (by such major writers as Aphra Behn, John Dryden, George Etherege, Aaron Hill, George Lillo, Thomas Otway, Catherine Trotter, and William Wycherley, among others), but we'll also have a chance to explore a handful of major works in other arts, including the startlingly revealing diaries of Samuel Pepys, the entrancing music of Henry Purcell, and the immensely popular graphic dramas of William Hogarth. Along the way, we'll gain an introduction to one of the most significant eras in the history of modern ideas of gender, family, and social identity. This course will require some facility with reading and analyzing pre-modern drama and will reward familiarity with both Early Modern and 18th-Century literature and culture. Course requirements will include regular response paragraphs, a short close reading essay, and the development of an individualized final research project and essay.