Department of English

University of Toronto

ENG305H1S L0101

ENG305H1S   L0101   T10-12, R11 
Swift, Pope, and their Contemporaries
Instructor: Prof. A. Hernandez

Office Location: Jackman Humanities Building, Room 912

Brief Description of Course: The close friendship between satirists Alexander Pope and Jonathan Swift is among the most famous—and fascinating—collaborative relationships in literary history. The former was a disenfranchised Catholic, disabled from youth, living in almost constant pain, yet driven by a near-compulsive drive to perfect the form of his poetry; the latter a hardy Anglican priest, exiled to Ireland, whose caustic wit seemed only to be matched by an intense disgust with humanity. Taking this relationship as a thematic anchor, this course will explore a network of authors—interlocutors, friends, enemies—and literary texts from the first half of the eighteenth century, loosely organized around what scholars sometimes label “The Age of Pope and Swift.” In fact, these years saw sustained economic growth and the rapid transformation of the social fabric of Britain, with fateful consequences to the history of literature. The Age of Pope and Swift, in other words, could just as easily be defined by the rise of the middle rank, the age of the coffeehouse, the age of reason, the age of the early novel. The story we will tell therefore, oscillates between intense personal intimacies (like that of Pope and Swift—but others too) and the publics and counterpublics that made up the richness of the growing British nation and its cultural forms. In the process, we will think about the rise of print capitalism in the period, the era’s changing poetic conventions and generic experiments, modes of performance and identity formation, discourses and theories of political power, the role of women and other disenfranchised or “minority” groups in literate culture, early forms of Enlightenment and scientific inquiry, especially as the play out with and against the cultural energies of religion, and other key topics. Students can expect to read across a variety of forms and genres, from satires in prose and verse, to novels and life writing, to plays and philosophical as well as critical treatises.

Required Reading:  Readings will include a variety of poetry, prose, and drama by authors such as Addison, Pope, Swift, Gay, Montagu and others most likely drawn from The Norton Anthology of English Literature; select longer prose works or novels by Haywood, Swift, Defoe, et al. will also be assigned.

First Three Authors/Texts: Most likely, poems by John Dryden, Congreve’s The Way of the World, a selection of essays by Addison.

Method of Evaluation: Participation (10%), reading quizzes (10%), two papers (20% each), two term tests (20% each).

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