Fall 2020 - ENGL 322 D100

Studies in Eighteenth Century Authors (4)

Class Number: 4688

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Tu, Th 2:30 PM – 4:20 PM

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Dec 11, 2020
    12:00 PM – 3:00 PM

  • Prerequisites:

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



The study of selected 18th century works, situated in their cultural context. Students with credit for ENGL 408 may not take this course for further credit.


Poetry and Privilege in the Eighteenth Century

For the literate elites of the early eighteenth century, poetry was part of everyday life. Educated men were expected to be able to write poetry in Latin, and to produce witty rhymes in English as party games. In fact, they were expected to be able to write “occasional” poetry—songs, jokes, birthday tributes, praise of a patron—at the drop of a hat. But poetry also had a more central public role for readers and writers: political propaganda, philosophical and religious debates, social satire, and obscene writing often took poetic form.

Since poetry was everywhere and so culturally central, others who had something to say took it up as well, and that’s where the trouble began. Many elite women were trained from an early age to write poetry and exchange it with others in manuscript form, and at the start of the century there was a surge in poems criticizing the unfairness of the marriage system for women. Women of the middling and lower social orders were increasingly able to publish their poems through the subscription method, or through magazines and newspapers, leading to their being attacked as scribbling women or worse. And it wasn’t just gendered voices that called out to be heard: marginalized Roman Catholics, labouring-class writers, dead Scottish bards, and African slaves took up the pen as well. Most of these writers used print as their medium, but some chose manuscript exchange or oral performance.

In this course we will listen to many of those voices, as they clamoured to be heard in the space of poetry. We will pay attention to what they had to say and how they said it, but also to whether anyone listened. We will focus on poetry’s role in this culture, on the opportunities and barriers encountered by those writing it from a range of social positions, and on how they collectively changed—or failed to change—their society. We will work to make eighteenth-century poetry part of our lives as it was for people of the time—learning to be comfortable reading it, copying out favourite poems, even writing imitations of it on contemporary themes.


By the end of this course, the committed student will:

  1. Be familiar with the very wide range of eighteenth-century poetry
  2. Be knowledgeable about the contexts out of which it arose and the challenges various poets faced in reaching an audience
  3. Have improved skills in reading and analysing forms of poetry (and even writing in some of those forms)
  4. Be able to reflect on the criteria by which writers’ works are (or should be) judged and how such judgments are related to gender, class, race, medium, etc.
  5. Have experience in reading, analysing, and responding to literary criticism
  6. Have increased skill in literary critical writing


  • Seminar preparation and active participations 20%
  • Critical reading report (600 words) 10%
  • Critical essay (proposal & 2000-2500 words) 30%
  • Manuscript poetry miscellany 20%
  • Take-home final examination 20%


Seminar preparation and active participation may include attendance in live sessions, discussion posts on Canvas, discussion leadership, prepared poetry reading, imitations, and synchronous writing exercises.



How to obtain the course text:

You may purchase the required text in print, digital PDF, or digital Epub versions directly from the Broadview Press website in Ontario.  Shipping is free for the print version. I recommend the print option, since we will be using hundred of pages of this text and it will be much easier for you to manage the online work of this remote course if you have a print version that you can mark up as you prepare for and attend class. Here is the text on the Broadview website: https://broadviewpress.com/product/the-broadview-anthology-of-british-literature-second-edition-5/#tab-description. If you order the text as a used book from some other source, please be sure to order the second edition, and that the used text includes the access code for additional website materials.


Black, Joseph, et al. The Broadview Anthology of British Literature Vol. 3: The Restoration and Eighteenth Century. 2nd edition.

(the writing in this anthology may occasionally be supplemented by copies of individual poems in PDF on the course Canvas site)
ISBN: 9781554810475

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 fall 2020 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).