English 4822.03,  CRN: 14353

Literature and Revolution (1660-1800)

Fall 2015

TR: 19:05 - 20:25                                                                                           McCain 2102                                                                                    



Instructor: David McNeil, 3193 McCain Building, 494-3508       dmcneil@dal.ca



This seminar examines the relationship between literature and revolution in selected English texts from the period 1660-1800.  Beginning with an excerpt from Milton’s Paradise Lost and William Blake’s “Jerusalem” (set to music by Parry in 1916), we will sketch out various upheavals and movements and how they were addressed by contemporary writers: Monmouth’s Rebellion, the “Glorious” Revolution of 1689, the Jacobite uprisings of 1715 and 1745, slave revolts, and of course, the American and French Revolutions.  These will be viewed through the eyes of poets, commentators, memoir-writers (fictional and non-fictional), historians and philosophers.  By considering texts ranging from the inspirational to the reactionary, the reflective and philosophical, we will gain a better appreciation of how political power shifted in Britain when it transitioned from an essentially “feudal” farm tenancy to a “modern” world empire (financial and territorial).


Texts (other texts maybe added):

Blake, “Jerusalem”   http://www.multimedia-english.com/videos/jerusalem-poem-by-william-blake-2424

Milton, Paradise Lost, excerpts (RPO)

Dryden, Absalom and Achitophel (RPO)

Otway, Venice Preserved (U of Nebraska P)

Behn, Oroonoko http://fiction.eserver.org/novels/oroonoko/

Defoe, Colonel Jack (Oxford)

Poems on Affairs of State (EEBO)

Chevalier James Johnstone, Memoirs e-text

Burke, Reflections on the French Revolution (see Paine)

Paine, Common Sense (Broadview)