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ENL 6236: Restoration and
Eighteenth-Century Literature

Civility and the Public Sphere

Class 2

Reading Assignment:

Annual Review Articles and Introduction
    "Recent Studies in the Restoration and Eighteenth Century," Studies in English Literature -- available through Project Muse at USF Libraries.
    Allen Reddick, SEL 43.3, (Summer 2003):719-768; Steven N. Zwicker, SEL 44.3 (Summer 2004): 639-688; Michael Mckeon, SEL 45.3 (Summer 2005): 707-782.

    NAEL, Introduction, 2045-2070

    RECOMMENDED: O'Gorman, Chapter one

    Due: Post #1


Notes and Discussion Questions:

1. Introduction and recommended reading

The NAEL introduction to The Restoration and Eighteenth century will provide good historical and literary background information to help you make sense of the literature from the period. Pay particular attention to the mention of issues of civility and politeness and their political and social importance.

Discussion questions: What historical conditions contribute to building a new public sphere? What is the relationship between the public sphere and new literary genres?

How do you understand the role of politeness or civility as a cultural development of the period? How does an emphasis on manners affect literature?

What literary themes do you anticipate emerging from the historical and literary developments described?

How does the representation of the intellectual context here differ from that in the review essays on scholarship? Why?


2. SEL review essays: Reddick, Zwicker and McKeon

For each review, please note specific works that deal with authors or issues that you may want to research for the assignments in class. These essays can serve as starting points for your own research.

Also pay particular attention to books or arguments dealing with civility and the public sphere. In McKeon see pp. 733 and following; in Zwicker a substantial section beginning on 645 and in Reddick brief mentions on 734 and 737.

For each reviewer, consider what precoocupations or "themes" help to structure their reviews. What do these themes suggest about prevailing concerns in 18th-century studies?

Discussion questions: What is the "long eighteenth century"? What various events are posited as appropriate starting points for this literary period? Ending points? What is the significance of this struggle over periodization?

What does the term "early modern" period suggest? How does it compare to Restoration and Eighteenth-century studies?

McKeon sets up a series of oppostions that he finds involved in the "division of knowledge" (presumably toward a modern sense of genre, class, discipline, etc.). Discuss your understanding of these sets of terms:

individual <--> society
masculine<--> feminine
objectivity <--> subjectivity
abstraction <--> concretion
arts <--> sciences
manual <--> mental labor
literature <--> non-literature
aesthetic <--> didaction
neoclassical <--> romantic
short <--> long eighteenth century
tradition <--> modernity
Explain his claim: "What the Enlightenment discovered was that knowledge is a process that works between the abstract and the concrete" (729).

Zwicker contends that the 17th Century (especially the religious and political conflicts that generated civil war and the resulting accommodations in its aftermath) is essential to understanding the eighteenth century. How do you understand his claim? What do you need to learn in order to appreciate this historical relationship?

Summary questions:

What are the dominant preoccupations in eighteenth-century studies today?

What are the prominent or consistent flaws and problems with the scholarship?

What questions does this raise for you?

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