English 123 - Winter, 2023

18th Century British Literature

Class Information

Instructor: Gray, Jessica Hanselman
Time: MWF 9:00-9:50
GE Areas: World Cultures Writing Experience


Wild and Wayward Women in 18th-Century Literature

In this class we will read texts in a variety of genres, from a variety of places, written during the "long eighteenth century." Our reading list for this quarter is loosely organized around the topic "Wild and Wayward Women." We will explore 18th-century ideas about gender, class, and sexuality, using texts from a variety of genres to interrogate how literature reflects, produces, and comments upon cultural expectations. This course will also help you continue to hone the reading and writing practices involved in studying literature at the university level. Through short writing exercises and a research project, you will work through the process of analyzing literature from an earlier historical period, as well as producing and presenting new knowledge in the field of literary study. You will also have the opportunity to practice a distinctly early modern form of engaging with literature as you create your own commonplace book over the course of the quarter. Literature will be our object of study this term, but the methods that we practice -- learning to pay close attention to language and synthesize knowledge -- are skills that will help you succeed everywhere. By the time you finish this course, you should be a more sophisticated reader and a more confident and skilled writer and presenter.


short writing exercises; commonplace book; research project; short presentation


The Convent of Pleasure, Margaret Cavendish
Fantomina, Eliza Haywood
The Rehearsal, Catherine Clive
The London Jilt, Anonymous
The Beggar's Opera, John Gay
Sophia, Charlotte Lennox
The Lady's Dressing Room, Jonathan Swift
The Dean's Provocation for Writing the Lady?s Dressing-room, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu
The Harlot's Progress, William Hogarth