Imagining the City (and the Country): English literature from the Restoration until 1890
This survey course aims to introduce students to 18th and 19th century English literature based on a narrow selection of texts from the period. This means that we are not going to cover all or even most of the texts required for the corresponding exam, but will try to tackle important aspects of 18th and 19th century literature and culture through concentrating on a single overarching theme: the representation of the city (sometimes as opposed to the country) in the selected works.
By the end of the course students will have learned about key characteristics of Restoration, Romantic and Victorian literature, including some of the major writers and genres of the respective periods (e.g. Restoration comedy; the 18th-century and the Victorian novel; the Romantic ode, etc.), together with relevant aspects of British social history and the history of ideas. They will also have gained more specific knowledge about the city in literary history and have enhanced their skills of literary interpretation in both written and oral form.
Classes will mainly consist of the in-depth analysis of selected texts, so a thorough familiarity with the assigned readings will be indispensable. Classroom discussions will be complemented by regular written assignments (of 1-3 pages) in which students will be asked to engage with particular questions of interpretation and to formulate their own opinion in a convincing way. By the end of the term all students will have to submit a longer home paper (approx. 6 pages) in which they discuss any work on the exam reading list from a specific angle, using at least three secondary sources pertinent to their choice of topic.