1. University of Virginia
  2. Arts & Sciences

Restoration and Eighteenth Century Literature


  • ENEC 3110 - Grub Street:  The Literary and the "Literatory" in Early Eighteenth Century Britain

    1400-1515 MW - CABELL 430

    Instructor: John O'Brien

    This was the period when a lot of things that students of literature now take for granted were first imagined and institutionalized:  the English novel, the concept of the author as owner of his or her own works, and indeed, the concept of literature itself as a distinct entity, an area of culture that can be assessed, evaluated, and studied.  This course will survey English writing of this period with special attention to how this happened.  In particular, we will focus on the conflict that emerged between high and low cultures, between the “literary,” those works considered to have permanent artistic merit, and the “literatory,” the factory-like site in the print shop where the ephemeral works of popular culture—summed up by the term “Grub Street”-- were produced.   Among the topics that we will take up will be coterie writing, copyright law, the dispute between the ancients and the moderns, the increasing importance of “originality,” the distinction between manuscript and print publication and the peculiar nature of literary property.  Some of the authors that we will be reading are probably familiar, at least by name:  Aphra Behn, Daniel Defoe, Susanna Centlivre, Alexander Pope, Eliza Haywood, Samuel Richardson, Lady Mary Wortley Montague, Henry Fielding, and Joseph Addison, among others.  But we will also be reading “popular” works—pamphlets, chapbooks, and broadsides—to give a sense of the full range of reading matter, literary and Grubean, available to English people in this period.  Because the technologies through which texts were available to readers were so important to this period, we will underscore the significance of technology by accessing many of our readings through multimedia “books” produced through the new open-source software package called Sophie.  Requirements:  participation, course presentations, two papers, final exam.

  • ENEC 3200 Eighteenth-Century Women Writers

    1100-1150 MWF - CABELL 430

    Instructor: Alison Hurley

    During the eighteenth century, technological, social, and economic shifts resulted in new ways in which texts were produced, circulated, and consumed. The new “print culture” which resulted provided women with the opportunity to step fully onto the public stage as professional authors for the first time. Women writing during this era, however, remained intensely aware of their “delicate situation” within a literary public sphere that was all too eager to equate publication with prostitution. In response, women writers deployed a variety of authorial strategies that ingeniously combined self-promotion with self-protection in order to legitimize their appearance in print. This class is particularly interested in examining the relationship between gender and genre during the eighteenth-century. For this reason, our investigations will focus on the particular authorial strategies women used to appropriate a number of specific literary genres to the female pen. We will focus in turn on conduct literature, letters, plays, poetry, novels and political treatises. Class requirements include weekly writing assignments and quizzes, two or three longer essays, and a final exam.