ENGL203: Cultural and Literary Expression in the 18th and 19th Centuries

Course Syllabus for "ENGL203: Cultural and Literary Expression in the 18th and 19th Centuries"

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Scholars tend to label the period between the Renaissance and the modern era as the long 18th and 19th centuries, meaning that they span from around 1680 - 1830 and 1775 - 1910, respectively, and that so many literary movements and cultural changes took place during these interim years that a narrower title is difficult to come by. In this course, we will examine these formative cultural and literary developments chronologically, dividing the course into four roughly sequential periods: The Enlightenment and Restoration Literature; The Rise of the Novel; Romanticism; and the Victorian Period. We will identify and contextualize the principal characteristics of each of these movements/periods, reading representative texts and examining their relationship to those texts that preceded or were contemporaneous with them. As such, this course foregrounds the movement, the changes, and the continuities from the neoclassicism of authors such as John Dryden and Alexander Pope through the emergence of the novel in the writings of Aphra Behn, Daniel Defoe, and Samuel Richardson to the Romanticism of William Blake, William Wordsworth, and John Keats to the Victorian era developments of prose and poetry by writers such as Alfred Tennyson, Charles Dickens, and Elizabeth Barrett Browning. At the same time, the course places these literary developments alongside the transformation of the English nation. Over the course of this period, the modern United Kingdom emerged. From a monarchical government, it shifted to a parliamentary democracy, as its borders expanded formally to include Scotland and as its empire grew to its height at the end of the 19th century. At the same time, the British Isles were the site of unprecedented social and economic upheaval through processes of industrialization and urbanization. Intellectually and philosophically, this era saw the emergence of modern science and the displacement, to a large extent, of Christianity and tradition as the foundations of truth. In a variety of ways, writers responded to and helped to spur and foster these changes that define modernity, and in the process of doing so, they helped to create literature as a new discipline distinct from yet parallel to religious, philosophical, and scientific pursuits.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • identify the major literary trends of the 18th and 19th centuries from Restoration comedy and satires through Victorian poetry and prose;
  • outline the major developments in philosophical thought during the Enlightenment;
  • describe some of the ways that Enlightenment philosophy intersected with and influenced literary developments such as neoclassical poetics, novelistic description, and Romanticism;
  • identify the factors that led to the rise of the novel as a literary form;
  • identify the specific traits that characterize early sentimental, Gothic, and picaresque novels;
  • describe the political factors that led to the popularity of Romanticism;
  • describe the shift in thought that led to the split between Romanticism and Enlightenment;
  • identify the themes, conventions, and tropes of Romantic poetry;
  • define and explain the significance of the concept of the Romantic imagination;
  • identify and analyze the political, social, and economic factors that led to the surge in popular Victorian fiction; and
  • explain the significance of poetic experimentation in the 19th century works of writers like Tennyson, Hopkins, and Browning.

Course Requirements

In order to take this course, you must:

√    have access to a computer;

√    have continuous broadband Internet access;

√    have the ability/permission to install plug-ins or software (e.g., Adobe Reader or Flash);

√    have the ability to download and save files and documents to a computer;

√    have the ability to open Microsoft files and documents (.doc, .ppt, .xls, etc.);

√    be competent in the English language; and

√    have read the Saylor Student Handbook.

Course Information

Welcome to ENGL203: Cultural and Literary Expression in the 18th and 19th Centuries. General information about this course and its requirements can be found below.

Primary Resources: This course comprises a range of different free, online materials. However, the course makes primary use of the following materials:

Requirements for Completion: In order to complete this course, you will need to work through each unit and all of its assigned materials. As mentioned in the introduction to the course, the units develop chronologically with four roughly sequential periods: The Enlightenment and Restoration Literature; The Rise of the Novel; Romanticism; and the Victorian Period. You will also need to complete:

  • Subunit 1.1.3 Activity
  • Subunit 1.3.2 Activity
  • Subunit 2.2.2 Activity
  • Subunit 4.2.2 Activity
  • The Final Exam

Note that you will only receive an official grade on your final exam. However, in order to adequately prepare for this exam, you will need to work through all of the resources in each unit and the activities listed above.

In order to pass the course, you will need to earn a 70% or higher on the final exam. Your score on the exam will be tabulated as soon as you complete it. If you do not pass the exam, you may take it again.

Time Commitment: Completing this course should take you a total of 136.5 hours. Each unit includes a time advisory that lists the amount of time you are expected to spend on each subunit. These should help you plan your time accordingly. It may be useful to take a look at these time advisories, to determine how much time you have over the next few weeks to complete each unit, and then to set goals for yourself. For example, unit 1 should take you 30.5 hours. Perhaps you can sit down with your calendar and decide to complete Subunit 1.1.1 and Subunit 1.1.2 (a total of 5.5 hours) on Monday and Tuesday nights; Subunit 1.1.3 (a total of 6.5 hours) on Wednesday and Thursday nights; etc.

Table of Contents: You can find the course's units at the links below.