Last updated:
Nov. 27, 2007

Site Map:

Back to Home

Courses and Syllabi


Classroom Policies


Student Projects

Laura L. Runge
Office: CPR 360 D
Phone: 813-974-9496

Contact Me
with questions,

    LIT 6236
    Beauty and Violence in the Enlightenment

    This course has been designed to meet the following objectives:

  • For students to be able to define the Enlightenment and to discuss knowledgeably the issues of beauty and violence in the literature of that culture.
  • For students to raise questions about the literature and scholarship in this class and develop habits of critical inquiry and research
  • For students to become “expert readers” of eighteenth-century British literature and cultural texts
  • For students to develop skills of critical cultural reading through recursive reading and writing strategies
  • For students to become familiar with the scholarship of the literature and to practice the conventions of scholarly reading and writing
  • For students to develop an original critical argument on the scholarship and interpretation of the literature in a fifteen page essay


"None but the Brave deserves the Fair." This seminar explores Enlightenment concepts of civil order, restraint from violence and aesthetic propriety in late seventeenth and eighteenth-century culture and literature. Dryden’s verse, above, epitomizes a widely accepted code of behavior for men -- namely, gallantry -- where a gentleman is responsible for protecting the vulnerable and proverbially beautiful sex. For much of the century, gallantry is espoused as a polite advancement over barbaric practices, whether of England’s past or of other kingdoms. It conveys social benefits to men and women alike; however, the latter are frequently less enthused about gallantry. Often overlooked in studies of civility, female writers of the eighteenth century voice considerable dissent from the general opinion on gallantry. In particular, they question the degree to which men have forsaken violence, as well as the extent to which all women are considered "fair." In the revolutionary years (1770s-1790s), political upheavals and violence force a reconsideration of the conventional understanding of civil society and the gendered constructs engineered for it. Our readings will include essayists and novelists who focus on matters of gallantry and courtship and the civic importance of new forms of non-violent masculinity and chaste versions of feminine beauty.

We will also explore the role of dueling, honor, seduction, conversation, and British identity in these works.

Required Texts

Samuel Richardson, Clarissa, ed. Angus Ross (Penguin, 1986) ISBN 0-14-043215-9

Eliza Haywood, Betsy Thoughtless, ed. Christine Blouch (Broadview, 1998) ISBN 1-55111-147-0

Oliver Goldsmith, Vicar of Wakefield, eds. Arthur Friedman, Robert L. Mack (Oxford: 2006) ISBN 0-19-280512-6

Margaret Jacob, The Enlightenment: A Brief History with Documents (Boston: Bedford / St. Martins, 2001) ISBN 0-312-17997-9

Sherry Linkon, "The Reader's Apprentice: Making Critical Cultural Reading Visible," Pedagogy 5.2 (2005):247-273. (Available through Project Muse, and on Blackboard Course Documents.

There will be many additional shorter readings listed in the detailed readings for each class below. These may be made available through online sources at the USF library or through our Blackboard class site in the course documents.

Electronic Media

For an general introduction to computing facilities and classes at USF, see USF Academic Computing Home Page.

This class will be interacting with the Blackboard website for ENL6236.001.F07, to be located on your MY USF website. To register and log in, visit .

You will find the discussion board for your weekly informal postings on this Blackboard site, and I will also post assignments, messages and further information about the class on this site. PLEASE CHECK IT FREQUENTLY.

My website: information on class, assignments and links to other important sites on literature, etc.

Other important websites will be listed in the schedule of reading and following the assignments.


Please note, individual class notes will be linked to the website at the date. These links will be updated weekly.
Date Class Readings Assignment
8/27 Introductions Selected brief readings from Tatler, Spectator, Key Words In class writing
9/3 LABOR DAY No Class: Optional Research Methods Class
Friday, September 7, 2:30-3:30, in CPR 255
Jacobs, Introduction (pp 1-72); Steele's "Conscious Lovers" (ECCO) Post #1
9/10 Clarissa, pp. 1-150 (also introduction); male violence; the consanguineal family Tatler essay on dueling (course docs); selection from Perry's Novel Relations (course docs) Post #2; Clarissa reading journal
9/17 Clarissa -- pp. 300 John Locke "Some thoughts on Education" in Jacobs; Shoemaker, "Reforming Male Manners" in course Docs Post #3; Clarissa reading journal; Scholarship Presentation: Pamela Coovert (essay)
9/24 Clarissa -- pp. 450 Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, in Jacobs; excerpt from Blackstone's Commentary, on marriage law Post #4; Clarissa reading journal; Scholarship Presentation
10/1 Clarissa -- pp. 600 Beauty: Burke, On Beauty (Course Documents) Post #5; Clarissa reading journal; Scholarship Presentation: Caitlin Fahey
10/8 Clarissa -- pp. 750 David Hume's "Of the Rise and Progress of the Arts and Sciences" from Essays Moral, Political and Literary Post #6; Clarissa reading journal; Scholarship Presentation: Sara Baugh
10/15 Clarissa -- pp. 900 John Tosh, "The Old Adam and the New Man: Emerging Themes in the History of English Masculinities, 1750-1850" in English Masculinities 1660-1800 eds. Hitchcock and Cohen, in Course Docs Post #7; Clarissa reading journal; Scholarship Presentation: Lauren Oetinger
10/22 Clarissa -- pp. 1050 John Brown's Estimate avail in Google books as PDF or through ECCO Post #8; Clarissa reading journal; Scholarship Presentation: Brian McAllister
10/29 Clarissa -- pp. 1200 Barbara Taylor, "Feminists Versus Gallants: Manners and Morals in Enlightenment Britain," Representations Summer 2004, 87: 125-48. Post #9; Clarissa reading journal; Scholarship Presentation: Erin Yerke
11/5 Clarissa -- pp. 1350 Excerpts from Wollstonecraft's Vindication of Rights of Woman, Johnson's Rambler 4 Post #10; Clarissa reading journal; Scholarship Presentation
11/12 - Veteran's Day No Class; finish reading Clarissa No additional readings. Post #11; Clarissa reading journal
11/19 Betsy Thoughtless, Introduction and vols. I-II No additional reading Post #12; Clarissa reading journal; Scholarship Presentation
11/26 Betsy Thoughtless Recommended: Gillian Skinner: "Women's Status as legal and civic subjects" in course docs Post #13; Recursive Reading Exercise
12/3 Vicar of Wakefield Post #14; Clarissa reading journal; Scholarship Presentation

Graded Assignments

Participation -- 10%

Weekly posts (14) 20%

Scholarship Presentation (3-5 pages) -- 20%

Clarissa Reading Journal -- 20%

Critical research essay (15 pages) -- 30%

This syllabus is subject to change.

** Students who anticipate the necessity of being absent from class due to the observation of a major religious observance must provide notice of the date(s) to the instructor, in writing, by the second class meeting.

Description of Graded Assignments


Students are expected to be present and active for each class. Full participation includes preparation of all readings; completion of writing assigments outside and inside class; active listening and questioning; respect for and interaction with other members of the class. Periodic self-evaluations for participation will be required throughout the term and used in conjuction with attendance records for grading this assignment.

Weekly Posts:

For general description and specific requirements of this assignment, see my webpage on weekly posts. For each class, I will post discussion questions and related information about the day’s reading. Students are responsible for writing a minimum of 200 words posted to the discussion board each week. In this post, students should pose questions on the week's reading, offer critical insights and analyses of the texts, and/or develop thoughtful considerations of the texts in relation to some of the key words for the course: civility, violence, beauty, and Enlightenment. Also, try to incorporate the ideas and observations made in other posts by your classmates. It is your responsibility to read the posts (and print them out if necessary) before class, so that we can use these ideas as the starting point for our class discussion. This differs from the Clarissa Reading Journal assignment in being a public, shared forum for critical inquiry and discussion.

Scholarship Presentation

Beginning September 17, one student each week will choose and introduce a scholarly article on Clarissa. The student should identify the article and provide the citation for the class on the assignment wiki on Blackboard AT LEAST ONE WEEK BEFORE IT IS DUE. All members of the class will be responsible for reading the essay and discussing it in class. The student presenter will write a 3-5 page critical summation and evaluation of the article to be turned in for a grade. The presentation/summation should include the following information: full citation, statement of the article's thesis or main argument, outline of main points, discussion of evidence and support, description of critical methods used, assessment of the validity of the arguments, use value of the article, and at least four critical discussion questions or directions for further research. Articles must be published between 1987 and 2007 unless the article has achieved classic status (this may be indicated by its being reprinted in an important collection of essays or listed in the Selected Readings in our edition, pp. 26-31). Our edition refers you to the web-based bibliography maintained by John Dussinger: Bibliography of works on Samuel Richardson on the 18th Century Resources website. For students who are presenting, please make a link to your paper from the main schedule of the wiki site. Also please send me a formatted copy of the paper by email. For all other students, please examine the article as we have been in class, and be prepared to identify and evaluate the thesis, main points, method, and validity of the arguments.

Clarissa Reading Journal

Students will be required to keep a personal reading journal for the semester in which they will record and reflect on their experiences in reading Clarissa. The exercise is aimed at making students conscious of the process of learning to think critically about narrative and to develop skills of expert reading. Writing prompts include, but are not limited to, the following: Describe your reaction to reading the novel. At what textual points do you have difficulty, questions, confusion? What does the text have to say about the class topics: Civility, Violence, Enlightenment, and the roles of gender and class in their representation? Mark textual passages that are striking for whatever reason. We will discuss these in class and revisit them at later points in the term with increased knowledge and understanding of the text, of the period, of the class topics. What patterns do you see emerging? What significance can you attribute to key moments in the text? Key images? What issues garner the most attention in this narrative? Why do you think so?

The Clarissa recursive reading journal will begin with the reading of Clarissa and continue through the end of the semester, as we revisit parts of the text and tie it into other narrative treatments of the topics and cultural and literary concerns. Students can choose their preferred method of journaling: A personal electronic journal, a handwritten text to imitate the form of the writing of the novel (a diurnal handwritten account); a series of letters to the class or a friend. You will be responsible for writing at least one 500 word entry a week, but for maximum effectiveness you will want to explore the reading process in more depth. Each week, you should be prepared to discuss some of the insights and questions you raise in your journal, however you will not be required to read it or share the writing publically. The journal will also be a place to record passages that interest you, so that you can return to your entries and reflect on your developing understanding of the text from time to time throughout the semester.

On November 26 we will devote part of the class to a recursive reading exercise that draws upon your journal and prepares you for writing your critical paper. Students will be expected to bring the journal to class that day and have it checked for a grade. Grading of this assignment will be based on completeness and level of involvement in the critical reading process.

Critical Research Essay

The culmination of the course will be an independently written scholarly essay of fifteen pages. Your weekly posts, your presentation of a scholarly article and your reading journal should prepare you with numerous ideas relevant to current scholarship on beauty and violence in the Enlightenment. Aim to develop an idea that is complex enough to sustain a critical argument of fifteen pages. Your model for this paper is a short, published scholarly article. In other words, you should situate your view within current scholarship and construct a careful argument based in textual analysis, criticism and current ideas. This will be due the last week of class.

You conduct further research by checking the library references I have provided in my list of “Eighteenth-century Reference and Research” This includes both online sources and indexes and materials housed in the reference section of the library. Call numbers are provided.

Back to Top of Page