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English 0464: The Age of Johnson 1745-1798
Spring 2000

Dr. Paula R. Backscheider
9082 Haley Center
(334) 844-9091
Office Hours: Monday, 10:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.

Class Details
Mon. & Wed. 1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Thurs. 1:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.
5 Credit Hours

Required Texts

  • ENGL 0464 Coursepack
  • Poems and Songs , Burns (Dover) ISBN: 0-486-26863-2
  • Oliver Goldsmith (Everyman's Poetry Series), Goldsmith (Tuttle) ISBN: 0-460-87827-1
  • She Stoops to Conquer, Goldsmith (Simon & Schuster) ISBN: 0-671-50998-5
  • Selected Poetry and Prose, Johnson (Univ. of California Press) ISBN: 0-520-03552-6
  • The Italian, Radcliffe (Oxford) ISBN: 0-19-283254-9
  • School for Scandal and Other Plays, Sheridan. (Oxford) ISBN: 0-19282567-4
  • Evelina, Burney, ed. Kristina Straub (Bedford) ISBN: 0-312-09729-8

Opiate of the people? Secret glimpses of utopian longings? Just plain fun? What is "mass culture"? This course will take as its theme the rise of mass culture and consider such familiar examples of it as horror, special effects, sentimental courtship, and comedy as well as a few unusual ones, such as literary hoaxes, the "graveyard" school, and Scottish national writing. In "the Age of Johnson" every kind of cultural endeavor wa suddenly for sale. For the first time, writers began to think in terms of trying for a blockbuster popular success or of attempting "a work of the elegant arts." Mass culture was-- and is-- often both, and students will be encouraged to make connections between popular and high culture and between the mass culture of our time and the time being studied.

Requirements: class participation, two short papers and an oral report on one of them, a final exam


5: Introduction
6: Principles and Issues in High/Low Culture; Blue-Beard by George Colman
10: She Stoops to Conquer by Oliver Goldsmith
12: The Mogul Tale by Elizabeth Inchbald
13: Discussion continued and "Indoctrination vs. Resistance"
19: The Belle's Stratagem by Hannah Cowley
20: Discussion continued and "Forces controlling Publication"
24: Goldsmith's essay on comedy; Goldsmith's poems: "The Gift," "Sonnet," "On Seeing Mrs. ***, Perform in the Character of ***", and "Song from the Vicar of Wakefield"
26: The School for Scandal by Richard Sheridan
27: "The Fashionable World" in Evelina, pp. 524-556 and 563-68
31: Acting Reports and Paper Due


2: Evelina and "Atomization" and "Creation of False Needs"
3: Evelina
7: Evelina and readings from the text, pp. 444-64 "Elite and Popular?"
9: Who was Samuel Johnson and Why do we Care? Essays by Johnson: read the ones beginning on pp. 181, 222, and 233
10: "Preface" to the Dictionary
14: "Preface" and essays by Johnson, pp. 202-213 and 252-260
16: Rasselas
17: Rasselas
21: The Critic by Richard Sheridan
23: The Italian, pp. 1-128
24: Continuation of discussion and "Utopian Dreams or Opium"
28: The Italian, pp. 129-258


1: The Italian, pp. 259 to conclusion
2: Continuation of Discussion and "The Carnivalesque"
6: "The Deserted Village" by Goldsmith and Burns' poetry, pp. 63-77
8: Burns' "The Cotter's Saturday Night," "To a Mouse," "To a Louse," "Tam o' Shanter," and "Holy Willie's Prayer"
9: Continuation of Discussion and "Popular Culture and Nationhood"
Paper Due


Papers are due at the beginning of class. No late papers will be accepted without prior arrangements.