Department of English

University of Toronto

3000 Series Course Descriptions

Richardson’s Clarissa: Fiction, Contexts, and Criticism
S. Dickie

Course Description:
A rare opportunity to read, at a manageable pace, one of the longest and most extraordinary novels ever written.  Composed entirely in letters, Richardson's Clarissa tells the almost unbearable story of a young woman who is abducted and then raped by a treacherous libertine, a violation that throws her into a long and eventually fatal illness.  We will read the text in 11 installments over the course of the semester and consider a number of important literary and cultural contexts: epistolarity as a literary mode; eighteenth-century sentimentalism; the early-modern treatment of rape; and the influence of women's amatory fiction, libertine literature, rake biography, conduct books and devotional texts.  We will also explore, in detail, the heated critical controversy that has surrounded this text since its publication in 1747-8.  We will review a range of contemporary reactions to Clarissa and a selection of more recent interpretations (feminist, Marxist, psychoanalytic, deconstructionist, reader-response).

Reading List:
Richardson, Clarissa, ed. Angus Ross (Penguin).  Additional materials will be compiled as a reader or distributed in class.

Course Method of Evaluation and Requirements:
The course will be run as a seminar.  Annotated bibliography or literature review (15%), to provide the basis for a seminar presentation (25%).  Final paper (15-20 pp, 40%).  Active and informed participation in discussion (20%).

Some familiarity with the period and its literature will be extremely useful; students should have taken at least an undergraduate course in eighteenth-century fiction.  Students are encouraged to read Richardson's Pamela and make a solid start on Clarissa before the course begins.

Term: S-Term (Spring Term: January - April 2018)
Date/Time: Fridays, 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm, 3 hours
Location: Room JHB 614 (note room change) (Jackman Humanities Building, 170 St. George Street)

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Varieties of (18th-Century) Religious Experience 
A. Hernandez

Course Description:
It used to be that the story we told about religion in the eighteenth century was one in which it faded into the background—but no more. The past decade or so has complicated the old view, with scholars working across disciplines—literature, anthropology, social theory, religious studies, history, and more—challenging the causes and extent of secularization, rethinking the role of religion in the era’s politics, and revisiting the wild variety of religious experience among eighteenth-century people. This course intends to explore this emerging body of theoretical literature, and will read a series of eighteenth-century texts (ranging from novels, to confessional poetry, to satires and hymns) alongside it. How can we reinvigorate a category that often comes off as the “third rail” of materialist cultural studies? What sorts of accounts of the period emerge once we do? Are there reparative readings available to the alien theological and devotional texts of the period? What, for that matter, do we mean when we talk about “religious experience” in a period whose “imaginary” is often unrecognizable? We’ll venture answers to these questions and more, gaining facility with a series of concepts and literary works in which these are core concerns.

Reading List:
Selected readings may include, Defoe's Moll Flanders or Robinson Crusoe, Swift's A Tale of a Tub, Pope's Essay on Man, Graves' The Spiritual Quixote, poetry by Cowper, Smart, Blake and more. Copious classical and contemporary theoretical readings.

Course Method of Evaluation and Requirements:
Participation and Weekly Responses (20%); Conference Paper (20%); Mock Conference Presentation (20%); Final Paper (40%)

Term: F-Term (Fall or First Term: September - December 2017)
Date/Time: Wednesdays, 3:00 pm - 6:00 pm, 3 hours
Location: Room JHB 718 (Jackman Humanities Building, 170 St. George Street)

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