Spring 2023 - ENGL 320 D100

The Long Eighteenth Century and the Romantic Era (4)


Class Number: 4290

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Jan 4 – Apr 11, 2023: Wed, Fri, 8:30–10:20 a.m.

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Apr 15, 2023
    Sat, 12:00–3:00 p.m.

  • Instructor:

    Betty Schellenberg
    Office Hours: Tues. & Wed. 10h30-11h20, or by appointment
  • Prerequisites:

    30 units or two 200-division English courses.



The study of literature and culture between c. 1660 and 1830, Texts may be drawn from a variety of media, forms, and genres, and may address issues of gender, race, class, national identity, and more. This course may be repeated for credit if a different topic is taught.


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, 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 participation 20%
  • Critical reading report (600 words) 10%
  • Critical essay (proposal & 2000-2500 words) 30%
  • Manuscript poetry miscellany or Author profile 20%
  • Final examination 20%


Seminar preparation and active participation may include discussion posts on Canvas, discussion leadership, prepared poetry reading, imitation-writing, and in-class writing.



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

(the text will occasionally be supplemented by copies of individual poems in PDF on the course Canvas site)
ISBN: 9781554810475


Your personalized Course Material list, including digital and physical textbooks, are available through the SFU Bookstore website by simply entering your Computing ID at: shop.sfu.ca/course-materials/my-personalized-course-materials.

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 website 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