English 165 - Fall, 2015

Topics in Poetry

    Topic: Politics of British Poetry from 1660-1789

Class Information

Instructor: Weise, Peter
CRN: 73369
Time: MWF 2:10-3:00
Location: 107 Cruess


    Seventeenth- and eighteenth-century England was a place of political fluctuation and drastic economic changes. The restoration of the monarchy in 1660 brought to an end the Republican form of government under Oliver Cromwell. In 1721 the first stock-market crash occurred in England when shares in the South Sea Company plummeted from £1000 to £100. The Seven Years War (1756–1763) saw England emerge as the most powerful nation on the globe. How did English poetry contribute to, resist, or possibly imagine alternatives to these various political and economic developments? Did poetry have a unique role to play in print culture or was it comparable to other forms, such as the novel, drama, or even the newspaper? Protestant Republicanism, constitutional monarchy, transatlantic slavery, and communities organized around finance and Empire will be important political models in our study. As this is a course on poetry, we shall spend much of our time unpacking the forms of the poetry and analyzing how they might register political problems. We shall read poems by John Dryden, John Milton, Alexander Pope, Anne Ingram, James Thomson, William Cowper, George Crabbe, Robert Burns, and Phillis Wheatley.


    Quizzes, 2 papers, participation, in-class presentation, final (subject to change)


    Paradise Lost, John Milton
    Absalom and Achitophel, John Dryden
    The Rape of the Lock, selected Epistles, Alexander Pope
    An Epistle to Mr. Pope, Anne Ingram
    The Seasons, James Thomson
    The Task, William Cowper
    The Village, George Crabbe
    Selected Poems, Robert Burns
    Selected Poems, Phillis Wheatley