Previous Courses


Graduate Seminars


6300 Studies in the Restoration and 18th Century Literature

  • 101 MW 2:00-3:15 Professor Melissa Ganz

    Course Title: Literature and the Passions in the Age of Reason

    Course Description: Long heralded as an Age of Reason, the Enlightenment is now recognized as a pivotal period in the history of emotion. During this period, philosophers began celebrating a sensitivity to human suffering, and reformers relied upon the rhetoric of sympathy to argue for the abolition of slavery and the rights of prisoners and debtors. In literature, neoclassical poetry gave way to sentimental verse, and the new genre of the novel provided unprecedented access to individual desire. The cult of sensibility, however, did not go uncontested: imaginative writers, philosophers, and social observers alike engaged in heated debates about the value and limits of feeling. In this seminar, we consider the changing meaning and role of the passions in literature from the late seventeenth to the early nineteenth centuries. We pay special attention to feelings such as love and desire and to changing gender roles and sexual relations. But we also consider the relationship between sympathy and social reform and the place of feeling in moral and political life. The course ultimately aims to introduce you to the range and richness of eighteenth-century literature, while providing a framework for understanding the relationship between literary innovation and cultural change.

    Readings:  Authors may include Aphra Behn, Alexander Pope, Daniel Defoe, Bernard Mandeville, Samuel Richardson, Adam Smith, Laurence Sterne, Thomas Gray, Edmund Burke, Mary Wollstonecraft, Maria Edgeworth, and Jane Austen.  Secondary readings by G.J. Barker-Benfield, Lawrence Stone, Martha Nussbaum, Lynn Hunt, Claudia L. Johnson, and others.

    Assignments: A 15-20 page essay; a reading journal (“commonplace book”); a presentation; and lively participation.

6600 American Literature from the Beginning to 1900



6820 Studies in Modern Critical Theory and Practice


6931 Topics in English
















English Department

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