The Idea of the Classic
in Eighteenth-Century England

In an age often (though problematically) called "Neoclassical," the idea of the classic was never taken for granted. In this course we'll look at the way English writers between 1660 and 1819 wrangled over the political, aesthetic, and scholarly issues emerging from a new canon of ancient, Renaissance, and modern classics. Readings will include Aristotle's Poetics, selections from Milton's Paradise Lost and the translations of Virgil and Homer by Dryden and Pope, eighteenth-century adaptations of King Lear and The Tempest, Pope's Rape of the Lock and Essay on Criticism, and Fielding's Joseph Andrews.