Department of English

University of Toronto

3000 Series 2010-11


A study of stage comedy from the Restoration to the Licensing Act, with attention to theories of comedy in the period, performance practice, and reception. The principal playwrights will be: Dryden, Etherege, Wycherley, Shadwell, Behn, Vanbrugh, Cibber, Farquhar, Centlivre, Steele, Gay, and Fielding.


Seminar, with several short presentations and a course paper.

The majority of texts are in the Broadview Anthology of Restoration and Early Eighteenth-Century Drama. Others are readily available in libraries and online. Reserve copies will be provided.

Wednesday 9:00 – 11:00 a.m.
Room 718, Jackman Humanities Building, 170 St. George Street


For historians such as Linda Colley, the Seven Years War (1756-63) marks a moment of collective agoraphobia in British society, the attainment of primacy as a global power bringing new anxieties about national identity and the risks of imperial over-reach. In the same period, literary historians have struggled to characterize a phase of production often seen as belatedly "post-Augustan" or innovatively "pre-Romantic," and typified by dissatisfaction with existing forms and conventions and experimentation with new poetic idioms or narrative modes. This course seeks to identify the gains to be made by reading the literature of a micro-period (that of the war and its aftermath) in its immediate public context, making close reference also to questions of generic disruption and change. Students will be encouraged to use the resources of the Fisher Rare Book Library and Eighteenth-Century Collections Online to read the major works in light of their forgotten hinterland.

Course Requirements
Seminar with oral presentations (20%) and informed participation in class discussion (10%); essay proposal with bibliography (10%); 20-page research paper (60%).

Key texts include Johnson, Dictionary of the English Language; Sterne, Tristram Shandy; Smart, Jubilate Agno; Macpherson, Poems of Ossian. Topics include aesthetics (Burke, Philosophical Inquiry; Young, Conjectures); antiquarianism (Percy's Reliques, Chatterton); oriental fiction (Johnson, Rasselas; Sheridan, Nourjahad); sentimentalism (Smith, Theory of Moral Sentiments; Goldsmith, Vicar of Wakefield; Mackenzie, Man of Feeling); satire (Churchill and the Wilkes circle); narratives of nation and empire (Goldsmith, Chinese Letters; Smollett, Humphry Clinker; Brooke, Emily Montague - "the first Canadian novel").

Previous study of eighteeth-century literature desirable but not required.

Tuesday 1:00 – 3:00 p.m.
Room 614, Jackman Humanities Building, 170 St. George Street

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