The idea of the "self" is one we take largely for granted. It's difficult to imagine that the "selfhood" we ascribe to ourselves and those around us might be experienced or imagined differently than they ways we know. Scholars increasingly agree, however, that many features we associate with the "modern self" — individualism, autonomy, self-determination — are by-products of historical change and, in particular, of literary developments of the past 400 years. This course will offer a broad survey of major, influential works of English literature in a variety of genres from a period (1660 to 1830) during which many of these changes took place. We will give special attention to the literary qualities and techniques in these works that account for their historical significance and enduring power. Authors to be considered might include Shakespeare, Milton, Marvell, Bunyan, Pope, Defoe, Richardson, Sterne, Gray, Wordsworth, Blake, Mary Shelley, and Austen.
Assignments will include reading responses, short essays, and a final exam.
No previous background in the period is required.
Two lectures per week + discussion section