Introduction to British Literature and Culture II: 1700 to the Present


Course Number: English 171
Time/Location: Cushing 001; MW F 12:00, w/section
Professor: James Najarian
Office: Carney 452
Office hours: MW 2-3
Tel: 2-1927


This lecture course reads (mostly) canonical literature in the context of larger historical and cultural movements in the three hundred years from 1700 to the present. Though we move very roughly chronologically, each lecture is devoted to a topic or situation as seen through a set of texts. This course traces Britain's political and Imperial ascent, its setbacks, re-ascent, and eventual decline; its development from an agricultural to an industrial and post-industrial economy; its transformation from a society run by a powerful aristocracy to a working democracy; its redefinition from a Protestant to a largely unchurched nation with significant numbers of non-Christians -- among other changes. For readers, poetry short stories, novels, and nonfiction traced, tracked, explained, and struggled to understand these events.


Throughout this course, I will stress that different kinds of texts or can be read in literary ways - that is, closely. We read two complete novels this semester, Elizabeth Gaskell's Cranford and Virginia Woolf's Jacob's Room, as well as poems and some excerpts from historical and cultural documents, including Henry Mahew's interview of a London beggar, the Easter 1916 Proclamation of Irish Independence, and Jawaharlal Nehru's first speech to his nation  at Indian Independence.



This is a lecture course, with lectures Monday and Wednesday and individual discussion sections of about 20 students that meet Friday.  You will sign up for a section on the second class meeting,  and you will stay with that section for the rest of the semester (no hopping around). In section, you'll read a chosen text with your teaching assistant with more individual attention; section leaders will announce in lectures on Wednesday the reading assignments they will emphasize the upcoming Friday.


As we have to get through three centuries of material, the reading assignments are lengthy, but you are not expected to participate in lecture, only in section. The writing assignments are fairly light - two in-class tests, one short (5-page) paper and a final exam.  The works will be weighted as follows: each test, 15%; paper 20%; final exam, 30%; attendance at lectures and section and participation in section,  20%. Your section leaders will have office hours, which they will announce.  I also welcome office visits, email, and questions during or after class; my office hours are at the top of this sheet.


The publisher of the Norton Anthology maintain a website with supplementary literary and cultural texts and reproductions of some contemporary prints and paintings. None of these are assigned, but enterprising students  may want  to check them out; my lectures will certainly make use of them.  Norton's website address for the supplementary material is:


Please note that there is a list of important dates at the back of the syllabus.








The Norton Anthology of English Literature  volume I OR volume 1c (which is simply the last third of volume I). I have ordered volume 1c for those who did not take the first semester and did not buy volume 1.


The Norton Anthology  of English Literature, volume 2.


Elizabeth Gaskell, Cranford (Oxford)


Virginia Woolf, Jacob's Room (Harcourt Brace)




Monday,  Jan 14. Introduction and Aims of the Course.  300 years of British Literature and Culture.  Read Introduction to the Restoration and Eighteenth Century, (Norton volume 1: 2045-2069).


Wednesday, Jan. 16.  Eighteenth-Century Decorum. Read Joseph Addison and Sir Richard Steele, Essays from the Spectator, particularly " The Spectator's Club"  and "Sir Roger at Church" (Norton volume I: 2484-92), "The Aims of the Spectator," "Wit: True,  False, Mixed" and "On the Scale of Being" (2492-98 and 2502-5); Alexander Pope, front matter and excerpt from "An Essay on Criticism" Part I (2505-13) and excerpts from "An Essay on Man"  (2554-2562).




Mon., Jan. 21. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. No Class.


Wed., Jan. 23. The Merchant Empire.  Read Jonathan Swift, front matter (2298-99) and excerpts from Gulliver's Travels, (2329-2414).




Mon., Jan. 28. Defining British Literary Culture: Samuel Johnson and Boswell's Johnson. Read Samuel Johnson, front matter, "The Vanity of Human Wishes,"  (2660-2670), a few excerpts from Rasselas (2678-85 only), excerpts from the "Preface to Shakespeare" (2725-2736) and "Pope"(2746-49); John Boswell,  Excerpts from The Life of Samuel Johnson, L.L. D. to "Fear of Death" (2754-2770 only).


Wed., Jan. 30.  Sense and Sensibility. Read excerpts from Frances Burney's journal and letters, (2783-2797 only); selections from James Thomson and Thomas Gray  (2822-2833).




Mon., Feb. 4. Revolution and Reaction. Read excerpts from Richard Price, Edmund Burke, Mary Wollstonecraft, and Thomas Paine (Norton volume II, 117-137); Apocalyptic excerpts by Priestley, William Blake, and William Wordsworth (from "Descriptive Sketches" only )  142-150. Also William Blake,  front matter and excerpts from Poetical Sketches, Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience (35-50).


Wed., Feb. 6. Romantic Individualism. Read "The Romantic Period" (1-21); William Wordsworth, excerpts  from Lyrical Ballads,  including the Preface up to page 246, (235-46), poems , including "Strange Fits of Passion I have Known," "A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal" "Resolution and Independence," "I Wandered  Lonely  as  Cloud," "My Heart Leaps Up," "The Solitary  Reaper," and "Elegiac Stanzas"  ( 251-259,  280-285, 293-4); and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, poems TBA 416-462.




Mon, Feb. 11. Romanticism and Feminism.  Read poems by Anna Barbauld, Charlotte Smith, Felicia Hemans, and Laetitia Elizabeth Landon, (24-32, 32-35,  812-823, 1034-42).


Wed., Feb. 13. Romantic Freedoms. Read Lord Byron, front matter and poems including "Darkness" and "So, we'll go no more a roving" (551-561), excerpt from canto III of Childe Harold's Pilgrimage: 563-569; Percy Bysshe Shelley,  front matter, "Mont Blanc," "Hymn to Intellectual Beauty," "Ode to the West Wind," and "Ozymandias"  (698-701,  720-726, 730-732);  and John Keats, front matter,  "On Seeing the Elgin Marbles,"  selections from Endymion (823-32) and the Odes, (847-54).




Mon., Feb. 18. IN-CLASS TEST.


Wed., Feb. 20. Post-Romanticism. Read Alfred, Lord Tennyson, front matter, "Mariana" and "The Lotos-Eaters,"(1198-1204, 1208-1213)  and songs from The Princess (1225-1128); Robert Browning,  front matter, "Porphyria's Lover"  and "My Last Duchess " (1349-50; 1352-53); Matthew Arnold,  front matter and poems,  including" Isolation- To Marguerite" "To Marguerite-Continued,"  "The Buried Life" and "Dover Beach" (1471-75, 1478-82 and 1492); and Christina Rossetti, front matter and poems including  "After Death," "Winter My Secret,"  Goblin Market, and "Up-Hill," 1583-1589.




Wed., Feb 27. Industrial England  and Its Discontents. Read excerpts from "The Victorian Age" (1043-1054 only) and  Friedrich Engels, Charles Kingsley, Annie Besant, Ada Chew, and Henry Mahew, (1702-1718);  as well as excerpts from Thomas Carlyle, Past and Present, 1115-1119 and John Ruskin, front matter, 1425-28 and "The Savageness of Gothic Architecture"  from The Stones of Venice, (1432-1442).






Mon., March 11. Women and Nineteenth-Century Print Culture. Read excerpts from headnote on the Victorian Age, (1055-1060 only), "The Woman Question" headnote and  excerpt  from Harriet Martineau, Autobiography  only (1719-21, 1725-1728); read Elizabeth Gaskell,  Cranford to page 40.


Wed., March 13. The Victorian Novel.  Elizabeth Gaskell, Cranford.


Section. Cranford.


Mon., March 18. Belief in Crisis. Thomas Henry Huxley, "Agnosticism and Christianity" and "Agnosticism Defined" 1566-1570; Gerard Manley Hopkins, front matter and poems including "God's Grandeur" and "Spring" 1648-1659; and excerpts from Charles Darwin's  Origin of Species, Leonard Huxley's account of the Huxley-Wilberforce Debate (1679-1693).


Wed., March 20. Imperial Expansion. Read Rudyard Kipling, "The Man Who Would Be King," and "Recessional"(1863-1888, 1892-93); excerpts from John Ruskin, John Atkinson Hobson,  and the Easter 1916 Proclamation of an Irish Republic (2017-2024).




Mon., March 25. IN-CLASS TEST.


Wed., March 27. From Decadence to Modernism. Read Walter Pater, excerpts from The Renaissance, (1636-44); Thomas Hardy,  "Channel Firing" and "The Convergence of the Twain," (1944-1945); William Butler Yeats, front matter and poems including "The Stolen Child" "Who Goes with Fergus" "In Memory of Major Robert Gregory," "Easter 1916," "The Second Coming," "Leda and the Swan," "Among School Children"  (2085-2095, 2102-2111); D.H. Lawrence, front matter, "Bavarian Gentians," "Snake," and "Cypresses" (2313-6, 2351-2356).


Holy Week. No Section.


Mon., April 1. Easter Monday, No Class.


Wed.,  April 3. The Great War and Modernism.  Read "The Twentieth Century" (1897-1913) and poems by Rupert Brooke, Edward Thomas, Siegfried Sassoon, Ivor Gurney, Isaac Rosenberg, and Wilfred Owen: (2051-2074); T.S. Eliot, front matter and The Waste Land (2360-63, 2368-83).


Mon., April 8. Modernist Fictions. Read James Joyce, front matter and excerpt from Ulysses, "Lestrygonians"  (2231-2234 and 2293-2302 only) and read Virginia Woolf, front matter (2141-43) and start Jacob's Room.


Wed., April 10. Modernist Fictions and the Novel. Jacob's Room.


Section. Jacob's Room.


Mon., April 15. Holiday. No Class.


Wed.,  April 17.  World War II in Literature. Read poems and excerpts by Edith Sitwell, Henry Reed, Richard Hillary, and Keith Douglas (2525-2541). PAPER DUE.


Mon., April 22. Empire and After. Read E.M. Forster, excerpt from A Passage to India (2131-2141), James Morris on the Partition of India and Jawaharlal Nehru on Indian Independence (2028-35), George Orwell, front matter and "Shooting an Elephant" (2456-2462)


Wed., April 24. Post-War Britain,  Read Poems by Stevie Smith, (2450-2455), W.H. Auden, (2500-2512), and Philip Larkin (2564-2571);  and Edna O'Brien, "Sister Imelda" (2745-2759).




Mon.  April 29. "English" Literature, Global Culture. Read Nadine Gordimer, "The Moment Before the Gun Went Off" (2572-76), poems of Derek Walcott (2580-87), and Tony Harrison (2763-60); and Salman Rushdie, "The Prophet's Hair" (2842-52).









1688 The "Glorious Revolution." The Catholic , absolutist James II deposed peacefully; replaced by his daughter Mary and her husband William, Prince of Orange ("William and Mary").

1707 Act of Union. English and Scottish Parliaments united.

1714 Queen Anne dies; George I (of Hanover, German-speaking), nearest Protestant heir, takes throne.

1715 Jacobite Rebellion put down.

1720 South Sea Bubble collapses. Financial Crisis.

1746 Battle of Culloden vs Scots Highlanders and "Bonnie Prince Charlie"; last Jacobite  rebellion put down.

1751 Robert Clive seizes Arcot; beginning of gradual British takeover of India.

1756-63 War Against France. Britain seizes France's American holdings.

1775-83 War for American Independence

1789 French Revolution.

England is at almost constant war with France from 1793 to 1815.

1793-4 Reign of Terror. King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette executed.

1804 Napoleon proclaims himself Emperor.

1807 Britain abolishes slave trade (but not slavery).

1811 George III declared unfit to rule; his son (George IV in 1820) takes over as Prince Regent.

1815 End of Napoleonic Wars. Britain clearly greatest European and world power.

1828 Catholic Emancipation.

1832 Reform Bill. The franchise is extended (though not completely) and parliament is made more representative of population centers.

1833 Abolition of slavery throughout Empire.

1836 First train in London.

1837 William IV dies. Queen Victoria takes throne at 18.

1845-46 Irish famine.

1857 Indian Rebellion.

1867 Second Reform Bill.

1870 Married Woman's Property Act - women allowed to hold their own property after marriage.

1882 Occupation of Egypt

1891 Free elementary education established.

1901 Death of Queen Victoria. Accession of Edward VII

1910 Death of Edward VII. Accession of George V. First Post-Impressionist exhibition.

1911 House of Lords loses veto power.

1914-18 World War I

1916 Easter Rising in Dublin

1922 Irish independence

1939-45 World War II

1940 Fall of France. Battle of Britain

1947 Independence of India and Pakistan

1956 Suez Crisis. Britain and France forced to back down from intervention in Egypt by UN and USA.

1957-63 Macmillan administration. Independence of Nigeria, the Gambia, Ghana, Somalia, Sierra Leone, Malaysia, Uganda, and Kenya.

1967  Britain retreats ignominiously from Aden, plans withdrawal of forces from Persian Gulf by 1971.

1972 Britain joins European Common Market

1982 Falklands War

1994 South Africa becomes a democracy.

1997 Scotland restores its own Parliament; Wales votes its (weaker) Assembly.