Spring 2021 - ENGL 320 E100

Studies in Eighteenth Century Literature (1660-1800) (4)

Class Number: 4158

Delivery Method: Remote


  • Course Times + Location:

    We 4:30 PM – 8:20 PM

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Apr 24, 2021
    7:00 PM – 10:00 PM

  • Prerequisites:

    Two 100 division English courses, and two 200 division English courses.



The study of selected works of late seventeenth century and eighteenth century literature. May include some writing from outside Britain, and may be organized by various critical issues or approaches.


The Eighteenth-Century Utopian Impulse

First published in 1759, Samuel Johnson’s The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia describes a young prince whose dissatisfaction with his life of ease and luxury in the Happy Valley leads him to abandon his perfect society in search of new experiences. This tale’s ambivalent depiction of an ideal society is part of a larger eighteenth century trend, in which writers explored the possibilities and limitations of new ways of structuring society. The readings in this course will trace utopian impulses through the literature and thought of the eighteenth century, from fictionalized travel narratives to essays arguing for all-female communities of learning to sentimental novels that saw shared feeling as the basis for a more just society. 

This course will be divided into three parts. In the first, we’ll think about travel and encounters with different cultures as a means for imagining alternate ways of organizing society. We’ll read real travel writing such as Lady Mary Wortley Montague’s Turkish Embassy Letters and fictional travel accounts in the mode of More’s Utopia by Margaret Cavendish and Jonathan Swift alongside Olaudah Equiano’s description of his African homeland. The second part will focus on utopian retreats, including the all-female communities imagined by Mary Astell and Sarah Scott, as well as the Happy Valley depicted in Johnson’s Rasselas. In the third and final part of the course, we’ll read texts that grapple with how to form alternative communities within the world as it existed, whether rooted in shared intellectual pursuits, such as those that formed the basis for the Bluestocking society, or sentimental friendship, as in Henry McKenzie’s Man of Feeling.

This course will be delivered through a mix of synchronous and asynchronous modes. Each week, I’ll provide a few short, asynchronous lectures that give historical context and outline key concepts. We’ll also have between an hour and 90 minutes of synchronous class each week during the scheduled time, when we will discuss the week’s readings.


  • Participation and Attendance 10%
  • Reading Journals and Discussion Board 15%
  • Short Essay (1200-1500 words) 20%
  • Participation in Mini-Conference 10%
  • Final Project Proposal and Project 45%


Grade breakdown subject to change.



Both of the required books should be readily available as print and digital texts. I strongly recommend acquiring print copies, but it is not mandatory. All other readings will be provided via the Canvas website.

I will not be ordering books via the bookstore this semester. While you are welcome to use any edition of the required texts that you have handy, I recommend the Broadview editions for their excellent introductions and contextual material. You can order RasselasMillenium Hall, and The Man of Feeling via the Broadview Press website.


Samuel Johnson, Rasselas

Sarah Scott, Millenium Hall

Henry McKenzie, The Man of Feeling

Department Undergraduate Notes:

IMPORTANT NOTE Re 300 and 400 level courses: 75% of spaces in 300 level English courses, and 100% of spaces in 400 level English courses, are reserved for declared English Major, Minor, Extended Minor, Joint Major, and Honours students only, until open enrollment begins.

For all On-Campus Courses, please note the following:
- To receive credit for the course, students must complete all requirements.
- Tutorials/Seminars WILL be held the first week of classes.
- When choosing your schedule, remember to check "Show lab/tutorial sections" to see all Lecture/Seminar/Tutorial times required.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in spring 2021 will be conducted primarily through remote methods. There will be in-person course components in a few exceptional cases where this is fundamental to the educational goals of the course. Such course components will be clearly identified at registration, as will course components that will be “live” (synchronous) vs. at your own pace (asynchronous). Enrollment acknowledges that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes. To ensure you can access all course materials, we recommend you have access to a computer with a microphone and camera, and the internet. In some cases your instructor may use Zoom or other means requiring a camera and microphone to invigilate exams. If proctoring software will be used, this will be confirmed in the first week of class.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112).