Dr. Laura L. Runge
ENL 6236 Beauty and Violence in the Enlightenment
Friday, September 7, 2:30-3:30, in CPR 255
Jacob's, Introduction (pp 1-72); Richard Steele's
Lovers. See 1723 version from the Eighteenth Century Collection Online, available in the USF Library online
Due: Post #1
Notes and Discussion Questions:
According to Margaret Jacob, what role does politeness play in developing ideas / practices of the Enlightenment?
How is England involved inthe shaping of the broader, continental ideas of Enlightenment?
What are some of the key ideas of the Enlightenment?
What changes during the Enlightenment and why/how?
In what ways do you think our culture has inherited the Enlightenment?
Consider some of the following and their role in the Enlightenment:
From Raymond Williams' The Long Revolution:
"When an art-form changes, as the direct result of changes in society, we meet a very difficult problem in criticism, for it quite often happens that a local judgment will show a form that has been brought to a high level of skill and maturity being replaced by forms that are relatively crude and unsuccessful. With the ending of a Restoration drama based on an aristocratic and fashionable audience, and its replacement by a very mixed middle-class drama based on a wider social group, we see one of the clearest and most famous of these cases. Most critics have been natural Cavaliers, and have represented the change as a disaster for the drama. Yet it is surely necessary to take a longer view. The limited character of Restoration drama, and the disintegration of a general audience which had preceded it, were also damaging. Again, while the early products of eighteenth-century middle-class culture were regarded (often with justice) as vulgar, we must, to tell the whole story, follow the development down, to the points where the 'vulgar' novel became a major literary form, and where the despised forms of 'bourgeois tragedy' and 'sentimental comedy' served, in their maturity, a wide area of our modern drama. The development of middle-class drama is in fact one of the most interesting cases we have of a changing society leading directly to radical innovations in form."
Steele' play clearly belongs to the "sentimental comedy" described here. It demonstrates a more pronounced interest in the middle classes and the preface, prologue and epilogue all announce the change in taste that is supported by the audience. What evidence for this shift in taste do you find in the play?
How does Steele represent duelling in this play? What reformation in male character does the play recommend?
What plan does Steele outline in his preface? Why is it significant that the audience approved his play? What role does printing this preface play in the continued establishment of a public sphere?