Writing About Literature & Society:
The Age of Reason?

English 3.303, Autumn 1995, Jack Lynch

Go directly to: September -- October -- November -- December

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Schedule of Class Meetings


Thursday, 7 September:

The Age of Reason? The Enlightenment? The Neo-Classical Age? Background on the eighteenth century. Class requirements, schedule, format, and so on.

Crime and Punishment

Tuesday, 12 September:

John Gay, The Beggar's Opera, Act I.

Thursday, 14 September:

The Beggar's Opera, Act II. Writing Seminar: Organizing an Argument.

Tuesday, 19 September:

John Gay, The Beggar's Opera, Act III; handout from McLynn, Crime and Punishment in Eighteenth-Century England (Introduction and pages on Wild and Sheppard). Two-page paper due: The Beggar's Opera.

Thursday, 21 September:

The Beggar's Opera, continued. Boswell, Johnson on The Beggar's Opera; Boswell's visit to Tyburn and Newgate (from The London Journal); selections from The Complete Newgate Calendar. In-Class Peer Editing.

Tuesday, 26 September:

Daniel Defoe, Roxana, pp. 35-133.

Thursday, 28 September:

Daniel Defoe, Roxana, pp. 133-230. Boswell, Johnson's correspondence with Dodd; Boswell, Johnson on execution; Johnson on the death penalty. Grammar and Style Guide: clarity, precision, and grace.

Tuesday, 3 October:

Daniel Defoe, Roxana, pp. 230-379 (end). Two-page paper due: Roxana.

Thursday, 5 October:

No class: I'll be away. Catch up.

The Age of Reason?

Tuesday, 10 October:

Jonathan Swift, A Modest Proposal. First Paper Due: Four to five pages on Gay or Defoe.

Thursday, 12 October:

Selections from Johnson, The Life of Savage. Grammar and Style Guide: audience, economy, vocabulary, and obfuscation.

Tuesday, 17 October:

No Class: Fall Break. (Class report on Thursday.)

Thursday, 19 October:

Jonathan Swift, Gulliver's Travels, parts one (Lilliput) and two (Brobdingnag). Grammar and Style Guide: emphasis and sexist language.

Tuesday, 24 October:

Jonathan Swift, Gulliver's Travels, parts three (Laputa, &c.) and four (Houyhnhnmland). Two-page paper due: Johnson or Swift.

Thursday, 26 October:

Jonathan Swift, Gulliver's Travels, continued. Writing Seminar: Polishing Prose. Grammar and Style Guide: concrete language, wasted words, long words, and bugbears.

Dead Cats and Turnip Tops

Tuesday, 31 October:

Jonathan Swift, "Description of a City Shower"; "Description of the Morning"; "The Lady's Dressing Room." Two-page paper due (assigned in class on Thursday, 26 October).

Thursday, 2 November:

William Hogarth, "Southwark Fair"; The Four Times of the Day; "Beer Street"; "Gin Lane"; The Four Stages of Cruelty. Writing Seminar: Developing a Thesis. Grammar and Style Guide: citation, fonts, justification, punctuation around quotation marks, and titles.

"Let Me Not Be Mad"

Tuesday, 7 November:

William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. Presentations on final papers. Second Paper Due: Five to six pages on Johnson, Swift, or Hogarth.

Thursday, 9 November:

Blake, Marriage, continued; Christopher Smart, Jubilate Agno (excerpt); Boswell, Johnson on Smart. Presentations on final papers.

Tuesday, 14 November:

Samuel Johnson, selections from Prayers and Meditations; Boswell, Johnson's "morbid melancholy"; various visits to Bedlam; William Hogarth, A Rake's Progress, Plate VIII. Presentations on final papers. Two-page paper due: Hogarth, Swift, Johnson, or Smart.

Thursday, 16 November:

Presentations on final papers.

Naughty Bits

Tuesday, 21 November:

James Boswell, extracts from the London Journal on Louisa; John Cleland, Fanny Hill, part one. Presentations on final papers.

Thursday, 23 November:

No Class: Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, 28 November:

John Cleland, Fanny Hill, part two.

Thursday, 30 November:

Bawdy songs from D'Urfey's Pills to Purge Melancholy.

Tuesday, 5 December:

William Hogarth, "Boys Peeping at Nature"; A Harlot's Progress; A Rake's Progress; Before and After; "Strolling Actresses Dressing in a Barn." Third Paper Due: either

Thursday, 7 December: