Fall 2023

Eighteenth-Century Literature and its Retellings

Listed in: English, as ENGL-411


Amelia Worsley (Section 01)


[Before 1800] What can retellings of eighteenth-century anglophone texts tell us about the original texts? This course centers on the relationship between eighteenth-century texts (including poetry, novels, plays and poems) and recent critical fabulations, adaptations, and works of historical fiction focused on this period. We will question what makes the eighteenth century a source of continued fascination. We will also explore how more recent retellings can reveal the ways in which eighteenth-century voices are often silenced or censored, even at moments when they profess to be speaking openly. As Edward Said argues, it is often necessary to read contrapuntally when encountering texts in this period, or to “listen for noise” amidst the silence. Violence is also often embedded in the eighteenth-century archive. Saidiya Hartman has written about what it means for eighteenth-century authors to “write at the limit of the unspeakable and the unknown,” and for readers to consider the conditions that dictate their silence. How far is it possible to reconstruct a sense of this period, in the face of these obstacles? And what might we intuit about our present moment—including its biases—by studying the relation between these periods? Selected texts include Gulliver’s Travels, The Great, Letters of the Late Ignatius Sancho, The Secret Diaries of Ignatius Sancho, Wheatley's Collected Poems, The Age of Phillis, Zong! and Mansfield Park.

Requisite: At least one course in ENGL. Limited to 18 students. Preference will be given to English majors. Fall semester. Professor Worsley.

Pending Faculty Approval

How to handle overenrollment: Preference will be given to junior and senior English majors.

Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: Emphasis on engaged readings, written work,independent research, oral presentations, and group work.

ENGL 411 - LEC

Section 01
W 2:00 PM - 5:00 PM CHAP 103


Other years: Offered in Fall 2023