Department of English

University of Toronto

3000 Level Courses

Fielding's Tom Jones 
S. Dickie 

Course Description:

A rare opportunity to read closely, and at a manageable pace, one of the greatest comic novels in the language.  First published in 1749, Fielding’s Tom Jones was an immediate bestseller and the subject of ferocious controversy. While enemies attacked the book for its bawdy humour and low morals, others realized that Fielding had effectively invented “a new species of writing.” Over time, the book’s blend of picaresque and romance structures would lead to several generations of European Bildungsromane. Fielding’s narrative innovations were taken up by Austen, Dickens, and Eliot, and made Tom Jones a valuable case study for literary theorists (including Bakhtin, Iser, and Genette).

In concentrating on a single text, we will pursue three larger aims. First, we will genuinely understand Tom Jones within its historical and cultural context, including the social and political structures of eighteenth-century Britain, the law, religious differences, gender, and sexuality. We will learn about eighteenth-century reading practices and the production and marketing of a bestseller like this book.  Second, we will have time to analyse, precisely and unrelentingly, Fielding’s techniques as a writer. As the course goes on, we will build up a sizeable list of these techniques and find terminologies for them. Third, since Fielding is one of the most playful and evasive prose stylists in the English tradition, we will bring to this novel the sort of rigorous close reading that is normally reserved for poetry.

Course Reading List:
Fielding, Tom Jones, ed. Keymer (Penguin); Claude Rawson, ed. The Cambridge Companion to Henry Fielding (Cambridge UP, 2007); course reader.

Method of Evaluation and Course Requirements:
Seminar presentation and related documents: 30%
Final paper: 50%
Active and informed participation: 20%

Term:  S-Term (Spring Term: January - April 2016)
Date/Time: Friday,  12:00pm - 3:00pm,  3 hours
  Room JHB 616 (Jackman Humanities Building, 170 St. George Street)

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The Social Life of Feeling: Literature and Affect of the 18th Century
A. E.  Hernandez

Course Description:

Scholarly tradition often calls the eighteenth century “The Age of Reason”—yet, and strangely, for some time we’ve known that this was also an “Age of Feeling.” Indeed, while contemporaneous discourses concerning sentiment have long been considered vital to the period, we might also consider many of the key discoveries in epistemology, aesthetics, political theory, and economics (all central to our broad conception of Enlightenment) as fundamentally concerned with the way feeling underwrites our experience of the world. This course explores the social life of feeling in the eighteenth century, arguing that any analysis of the rhetorics, theories, and modes of expression through which affect is mediated functions also to assess a moment’s assumed possibilities, aspirations, and contradictions. In comedies and satiric epistles, tragedies and lyrics, irony and sincerity, Britons imagined what a changing social sphere might entail for the passions, constructing, testing, and reflecting an uneasily shifting set of social relations. How then does literary form shape and express the social life of feeling? Mindful of important distinctions between “history of emotions” and “affect theory,” our text selections will venture answers to this question, as well as traverse critical paradigms so as to historicize literature and affect in the eighteenth century.

Course Reading List:
Selected Primary Readings may include:

Defoe, A Journal of a Plague Year
Finch, "The Spleen"
Hobbes, Leviathan
Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature
Lillo, Fatal Curiosity, A Tragedy
Pope, "First Satire of the Second Book of Horace,” and other poems
Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments
Sterne, A Sentimental Journey
Swift, "Verses on the Death of Dr. Swift," and other poems

Method of Evaluation and Course Requirements:
Weekly Response Posts (20%) Class Presentation (20%) Bibliography / Project (20%) Final Paper (40%)

Term:  F-Term (Fall Term: September - December 2015)
Date/Time: Thursday,  3:00pm - 6:00pm,  3 hours
Location:  Room
JHB 718 (Jackman Humanities Building, 170 St. George Street)

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Eighteenth-Century Tragedy and Its Discontents
T. F. Robinson

Course Description:

What, exactly, is tragedy? And what effect does it have on us? These questions took center stage in the minds of eighteenth-century thinkers and dramatic artists, even amidst a cultural and theatrical environment that appeared to foretell the genre’s decline. In this course, we will consider a range of approaches to and debates over tragedy as we chart its fraught evolution from the Restoration through the Romantic period. Not only will we read a variety of tragic forms—from heroic, to sentimental, to gothic, to romantic—but we will also analyze philosophical and aesthetic responses to these forms, the intersection of sex and violence in tragic drama, the notion that tragedy acts as a regulator of the passions, the role of the sublime in tragedy, and the art and science of tragic stage expression. Throughout, we will situate our investigation within a socio-historical framework that considers the unique friction (and frisson) in the period between the demands of classical tragedy and a contemporary focus on enlightenment progress, satirical critique, bourgeois values, republicanism, women’s rights, and natural religion. In doing so, we will examine both the on-stage and off- stage impact of the idea and performance of tragedy over the course of the long eighteenth century.

Course Reading List:
Dramas may include:

John Dryden, All for Love, or the World Well Lost (1677); Nicholas Rowe, The Fair Penitent (1702); Richard Steele, The Conscious Lovers (1722); George Lillo, The London Merchant, or the History of George Barnwell (1731); Horace Walpole, The Mysterious Mother: A Tragedy (1768); Arthur Murphy, The Grecian Daughter (1772); Joanna Baillie, De Monfort (1798); Percy Shelley, The Cenci (1819)

Non-Fiction may include:
selections from Aristotle, Poetics; Longinus, On the Sublime; John Dryden, Essay of Dramatic Poesie; David Hume, “Of Tragedy” and “On the Standard of Taste”; Adam Smith, from A Theory of Moral Sentiments; John Hill, Essay on the Art of Acting; Samuel Foote, from A Treatise on the Passions, So Far as They Regard the Stage; Roger Pickering, Reflections upon Theatrical Expression in Tragedy; Edmund Burke, from A Philosophical Enquiry; Joanna Baillie, Preface to Plays on the Passions; Henry Siddons, Practical Illustrations of Rhetorical Gesture and Acting.

Secondary Criticism may include:
selections from Walter Benjamin, Michael Booth, Laura Brown, J. Douglas Canfield, Jeffrey N. Cox, Michael Gamer, Alan Richardson, Joseph Roach, and George Steiner, among other possibilities.

NB: Students are advised that there will be readings required for the first class. Students can expect an email from the professor with more information about these readings prior to the first class meeting.

Method of Evaluation and Course Requirements:
Participation (attendance and informed discussion) (20%); Seminar Presentation and Related Short Paper (20%); Topic Proposal and Annotated Bibliography (10%), Final Research Paper (50%).

Term:  S-Term (Spring Term: January - April 2016)
Date/Time: Thursday,  1:00pm - 3:00pm, 2 hours
  Room JHB 614 (Jackman Humanities Building, 170 St. George Street)

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