Studies in Eighteenth-Century British Literature

Professor Abby Coykendall

Literature 561; Winter 2003

Pray Harrold 307

Office Phone: 487-0147

Monday and Wednesday 5:00–6:15

Location: 603G Pray Harrold

Hours: MW 11–1; W 6:15-7:15 PM

Electronic Reserve: (18c)

(or email for an appointment)

 “The private person who squares his accounts with reality in his office demands that the interior be maintained in his illusions.   From this springs the phantasmagorias of the interior.  For the private individual the private environment represents the universe.  In it he gathers remote places and the past.  His drawing room is a box in the world theater.”

Walter Benjamin, “Paris, Capital of the Nineteenth Century,” Reflections


“The Novel, the Nation-State”: Imagining Space in Eighteenth-Century Literature


Literature 561 “Studies in Eighteenth-Century British Literature” — formerly known as “Literature of the Neoclassical Period” — is a class in which we will investigate a wide variety of eighteenth-century British literature.  Perhaps more than any other period, the British eighteenth century represents a moment that we must evaluate and reevaluate to challenge the values of our own time.  Often considered the quaint origin of all civil societies, the British eighteenth century witnesses both the positives and negatives of modernity in the extreme.  Thus, in midst of the massive expansion of the slave trade, the birth of the market economy, and an increasingly rigid sex-gender system, we find a celebration of art and culture that students of literature still cannot help but admire.  We will test both the apocalyptic and utopian visions of the British “enlightenment” through a diverse array of texts that put issues of modernity at the fore.  And ultimately whether discussing literature or world events, we will attempt to expand rather than confine our engagement with the material.


The title for this seminar derives from Franco Moretti’s Atlas of the European Novel, in which Moretti maps (literally) the “novelistic geography” of nationality.  Like many inspired by Benedict Anderson’s Imagined Communities, Moretti focuses on the nineteenth-century novel, but we frequently encounter these imaginary mappings of community, nation, and empire in the literature of the eighteenth century.  However, before nineteenth-century novelists like Austen or Dickens, these geopolitical constructions seem more like patchwork juxtapositions of people and places than coherent, overarching narratives of nationality.  The two settings of Aphra Behn’s Oroonoko, for example, could easily be the settings of two distinct plays, with the names of the key characters changing accordingly; likewise, Daniel Defoe’s sprightly Moll Flanders traverses both Britain and the globe assuming new names and new personas at each point of entry.  Something quite different happens by mid-century with Henry Fielding’s Tom Jones, wherein we discover a clear path through the heart of England — encountering specimens of characters lined up for our inspection as if in a zoo — even though the action coincides with the nearly successful (geographically speaking) 1745 Jacobite revolt.  By the end of the period, differences of geography begin to seem like differences of time: in Samuel Johnson’s Journey, we encounter “primitive” Highlanders as if they alone were the bas-reliefs of modernity.  In tracing the changes from the early to the late “long” eighteenth century, we will ask ourselves how historical forces like colonialism, agrarian capitalism, and slavery impact the imaginary “space” of the nation and how gendered constructs of action and/or experience complicate those imaginings.


Texts and Materials


The following books are available at Ned’s bookstore (; 483-6400; 707 W. Cross St.), although additional copies may be available at other EMU bookstores:

v      Jane Austen, Persuasion (Random House)

v      Frances Burney, Evelina (Norton Critical)

v      Daniel Defoe, Moll Flanders (Random House)

v      Olaudah Equiano, Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano (Norton Critical)

v      Jonathon Swift, Gulliver’s Travels (Penguin)

Please ensure that you get the same edition as the texts listed above; otherwise, the differing page numbers will make it quite difficult for you to follow along with class discussions.  All of the other readings mentioned below, excluding the non-required, supplementary texts, can be found online through the Halle Library’s Electronic Reserve website:  (Contact another student or myself if you forget the password.)  Our syllabus can also be found online at




Nothing is more vital for success in this class than keeping up with, and actively engaging in, the bi-weekly reading assignments and class discussions.  Regular attendance, of course, is crucial in this respect as well, and missing more than two weeks of class will result in a non-passing grade.  Aside from reading creatively and carefully, you must complete three assignments: 1) a six-page annotated bibliography, 2) an in-class presentation, and 3) a final research paper of at least fifteen pages.  The annotated bibliography will detail a minimum of six outside sources — theoretical, historical, as well as primary texts — offering a critical introduction to your topic and an application to the text that we are currently reading.  The presentation — roughly ten minutes, but no more — will be a casual affair, based entirely on your annotated bibliography.  You must consult with me (in my office) about your annotated bibliography before you begin.  Your sources may be culled from the supplementary readings below, drawn from your consultations with me, or discovered on your own (likely via the MLA database); they cannot, however, replicate the texts that constitute the required readings for the class as a whole.  Your final research paper will, no doubt, derive from your annotated bibliography as well, although you are not required to explore the same topic if another one becomes more fascinating to you.  You must identify the main text that you will discuss in your annotated biography (and present in class) by January 8, selecting a book from the course itinerary below.  The research paper is due April 22.


Course Itinerary


Section One: Bodily Topographies


Monday, January 6: Introduction; Jonathan Swift, “Lady’s Dressing Room” (handout)


Wednesday, January 8: Eliza Haywood, Female Spectator (968-972) and Fantomina (1-27); Henry Fielding, “The Female Husband” (29-51); Mary Russo, “Female Grotesques: Carnival and Theory” (Feminist Studies, Critical Studies 213-227); Terry Castle, “‘Matters Not Fit to be Mentioned’: Fielding’s ‘Female Husband’” (Female Thermometer 67-81)


Monday, January 13: John Cleland, Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure, Letter One (1-59) [full text available at]; Nancy Miller, “‘I’s in Drag: The Sex of Recollection” (47-57); Felicity Nussbaum, “Prostitution, Body Parts, and Sexual Geography” (Torrid Zones 95-113)


Wednesday, January 15: Jonathan Swift, Gulliver’s Travels (Parts 1-2); Susan Stewart, On Longing (44-69)


Monday, January 20: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (No Class)


Wednesday, January 22: Swift, Gulliver’s Travels (Parts 3-4); Edward Said, “Imaginative Geography and Its Representations” (Orientalism 49-73); Homi Bhabha, “The Other Question” (The Location of Culture 66-84)


Supplemental Reading: J. Douglas Canfield, Broadview Anthology of Restoration and Early Eighteenth-Century English Drama; Sigmund Freud, Dora: A Case in Hysteria, Interpretation of Dreams, and Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality; Michel Foucault, History of Sexuality; Jacques Lacan, Écrits (N/A), Feminine Sexuality (N/A), Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis; Lynn Hunt, Ed. The Invention of Pornography; Thomas Laqueur, Making Sex; Ralph Trumbach, Sex and the Gender Revolution; Lauren Berlant, The Queen of America Goes to Washington City; Berlant and Michael Warner, “Sex in Public” (Publics and Counter Publics)


Section Two: Global Topographies


Monday, January 27: Aphra Behn, Oroonoko; Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, Turkish Embassy Letters (57-60, 69-72), Malek Alloula, The Colonial Harem (3-26)


Wednesday, January 29: Richard Steele, “Inkle and Yarico” (Spectator #11 47-51); Peter Hulme, “Inkle and Yarico” (Colonial Encounters 225-266); Laura Brown, “The Romance of Empire: Oroonoko and the Trade in Slaves” (New Eighteenth Century 41-61)


Monday, February 3: Thomas Southerne, Oroonoko; Suvir Kaul, “Reading Literary Symptoms: Colonial Pathologies and the Oroonoko Fictions of Behn, Southerne, and Hawkesworth” (80-96); Anne McClintock, Imperial Leather (21-42)


Wednesday, February 5: Olaudah Equiano, Interesting Life of Olaudah Equiano (33-71); Joseph Addison, “The Royal Exchange” (Spectator #69 1-2); Henry Louis Gates, The Signifying Monkey (152-158)


Monday, February 10: Equiano, Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano (71-196); Roxann Wheeler, The Complexion of Race (260-87)


Supplemental Reading: Srinivas Aravamudan, Tropicopolitans: Colonialism and Agency (N/A); Ian Baucom, Out of Place: Englishness, Empire, and the Locations of Identity (N/A); Suvendrini Perera, Reaches of Empire (N/A); Suvir Kaul, Poems of Nation, Anthems of Empire; Mary Louise Pratt, Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation; Claude Lévi-Strauss, Tristes Tropiques; Jacques Derrida, Of Grammatology; Johannes Fabian, Time and the Other; Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, A Critique of Postcolonial Reason; Bill Ashcroft, Gareth Griffiths, and Helen Tiffin, The Empire Writes Back (N/A)


Section Three: Urban Topographies


Wednesday, February 12: Daniel Defoe, Moll Flanders; Defoe, “The True-Born Englishman” (1-2); Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish (3-31)


Monday, February 17: Defoe, Moll Flanders; Claude Lévi-Strauss, The Elementary Structures of Kinship (29-68); Luce Irigaray, “Women on the Market” (This Sex Which Is Not One 170-191)


Wednesday, February 19: Defoe, Moll Flanders; Akhil Gupta, “The Reincarnation of Souls and the Rebirth of Commodities” (187-211)


Monday, February 24: Defoe, Moll Flanders; John Bender, Imagining the Penitentiary (43-61)


Wednesday, February 26: Alexander Pope, Rape of the Lock (Cantos 1-5); Giles Jacob, The Rape of the Smock (203-209); Thomas Gray, The Bard (1-5)


Monday, March 3 – March 9:  Spring Break (No Class) — Re-read Pope, Rape; Read Frances Burney, Evelina; Laura Brown, “Capitalizing on Women” (Ends of Empire 103-134)  


Supplemental Reading: E. P. Thompson, The Making of the English Working Class; Roy Porter, English Society in the Eighteenth Century (N/A); Jürgen Habermas, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere; Max Horkheimer and Theodore Adorno, Dialectic of Enlightenment; Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire; Carol Pateman, The Sexual Contract; C­laudia L. Johnson, Equivocal Beings (N/A); Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Between Men; Helen Deutsch and Felicity Nussbaum, Defects: Engendering the Modern Body (N/A); J. Paul Hunter, Before Novels; Guy Debord, Society of the Spectacle


Section Four: National Topographies


Monday, March 10:  Burney, Evelina; Raymond Williams, The Country and the City (1-12, 60-67, 120-126,142-165); Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities (5-7, 19-36, 204-206)


Wednesday, March 12:  ***  Class Cancelled for Conference ***


Monday, March 17: Burney, Evelina; Burney, Selections from the Letters and Diaries and Contextual Documents (included in the Norton Critical Edition 444-95); Ann Bermingham, “The Picturesque and Ready-to-Wear Femininity” (81-113)


Wednesday, March 19:  Burney, Evelina; Terry Castle, Masquerade and Civilization (52-109)


Monday, March 24: Selections from Samuel Richardson, Pamela (82-87, 198-205, 353); from Henry Fielding, Joseph Andrews (57-58, 67-69, 78-80, 123-125, 324-331); from Laurence Sterne, Tristram Shandy (2-14); and from Oliver Goldsmith, The Vicar of Wakefield (9-12); Homer Brown, “Why the Story of the Origin of the (English) Novel Is an American Romance (If Not the Great American Novel)” (Cultural Institutions of the Novel, ed. Warner and Lynch 11-42)


Wednesday, March 26:  Ruth Perry, “Colonizing the Breast” (185-208); *** Markman Ellis (The Politics of Sensibility)


Monday, March 31: Samuel Johnson, A Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland (1-9); Maria Edgeworth, Castle Rackrent (1-43)


Wednesday, April 2:  Edgeworth, Castle Rackrent; Katie Trumpener, Bardic Nationalism (58-74); Michel de Certeau, “History: Science and Fiction” (Heterologies 199-207, 214-221)


Monday, April 7:  Jane Austen, Persuasion; Lynch, “At Home with Jane Austen” (Cultural Institutions of the Novel 159-192)


Wednesday, April 9:  Austen, Persuasion; Nancy Armstrong, “A Country House That Is Not A Country House” and “Labor That Is Not Labor” (Desire and Domestic Fiction 69-81)


Monday, April 14:  Austen, Persuasion; Maaja Stewart, Domestic Fictions and Imperial Realities (1-10, 72-77, 81-83, 86-96)


Wednesday, April 16:  Austen, Persuasion; Franco Moretti, “The Novel, the Nation-State” (13-47)


Supplemental Reading: Michael McKeon, Origins of the English Novel; Deidre Lynch, Ed. Janeites; Said, “Jane Austen and Empire” (Culture and Imperialism); Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, “Jane Austen and the Masturbating Girl” (Tendencies); Laura Doyle, “The Racial Sublime” (in Romanticism, Race, and Imperial Culture); Linda Colley, Britons; Murray Pittock, Inventing and Resisting Britain; Janet Sorenson, The Grammar of Empire; Johannes Fabian, “Of Dogs Alive, Birds Dead, and Time to Tell a Story” (Chronotypes, ed. Bender); Michael Hechter, Internal Colonialism

*** As yet this text is unavailable, but it will soon be added to the Electronic Course Reserve.

Other Books of Interest


Ariès, Philippe. Centuries of Childhood: A Social History of Family Life.

Bakhtin, M. M. The Dialogic Imagination: Four Essays.