Dr. Paula R. Backscheider
9082 Haley Center
This seminar explores and tests the usefulness of two literary theories in analyzing texts written in times of crisis or major societal change. Through feminist and masculinity studies, we will consider how male and female characters are employed and how both are forced outside the ordinary expectations and opinions about gender. With Performance Studies theory, we will analyze how “social drama” becomes aesthetic works and then brings about new social dramas. Some of the novels will be written from an eye-witness’s point of view with the observations of people caught in the Great Plague of 1665 and of a polished journalist fighting in the French and Indian War who encounters the very beginning of the rise of plantation slave culture. Other texts will depict times of crippling unemployment and of legally sanctioned spousal abuse and captivity. Among the readings will be Daniel Defoe’s A Journal of the Plague Year, Edward Kimber’s History of the Life and Adventures of Mr. Anderson, Eliza Haywood’s The History of Miss Betsy Thoughtless, and Edward Neville’s Plymouth in an Uproar.
Occasional written and oral reports, a seminar paper developed throughout the semester on one of the themes.
August 17: Discussion of Qualtrics results. Engravings: “The Female Volunteer,” and Charlotte Walpole and the Camp*; “From Academic Masculinity Studies.” * Introduction and orientation to gender emphasis in the seminar.
“Gender is a socially imposed division of the sexes. Rather than an expression of natural differences, it is the suppression of natural similarities.” Gayle Rubin, “The Traffic in Women”
24: Edward Neville, Plymouth in an Uproar (1779) + Expert opinions. George Haggerty, “Regendering the Restoration Stage” from Teaching British Women Playwrights, pp. 29-31*; Rugemer, Slave Law and the Politics of Resistance, 1-8*; from Nicholas Mirzoeff, The Right to Look, pp. 10-13, 36, 44, 48-65.*
31: Edward Kimber, History of the Life and Adventures of Mr. Anderson. Please also read the Introduction to the novel, pp. 9-34 and Example 1, pp. 183-85 of Appendix A. Expert Opinions.
Sept. 7 : Continued discussion of History of Mr. Andrews with Appendix C, 212-17; William Blackstone, excerpts from “On Slavery,” “Of the Rights of Persons,” and “Of Masters and Servants:”* Introduction to the Portuguese edition of A Journal of the Plague Year. Sept. 7: Continued discussion of History of Mr. Andrews with Appendix C, 212-17; William Blackstone, excerpts from “On Slavery,” “Of the Rights of Persons,” and “Of Masters and Servants:”* Introduction to the Portuguese edition of A Journal of the Plague Year.
“No longer were there individual destinies; only a collective destiny, made of plague and the emotions shared by all.” Albert Camus, The Plague
14: Analysis of Stephen Gregg’s approach in “Defoe, Manliness, and Effeminacy” from Defoe’s Writings and Manliness, 1-11 and “A Journal of the Plague Year: Godly Manliness under Stress,” 91-112* Selection of a topic for 5 October Plague Paper.
21: Daniel Defoe, A Journal of the Plague Year.
28: Maximillian Novak, “Defoe and the Disordered City,” in Norton Journal of the Plague Year textbook, 301-18; Paula McDowell, “Defoe and the Contagion of the Oral: Modeling Media Shift in A Journal of the Plague Year,” PMLA 121.1 (2006): 87-106.*
October 5: Mid-semester. Journal of the Plague Year and explore 195-230; Christopher Loar, “Plague’s Ecologies: Daniel Defoe and the Epidemic Constitution,” Eighteenth-Century Fiction 32.1 (2019): 31-53.* Reports & discussion: Identification of similarities to the Covid pandemic.
12: Reports and discussion continued. Michael McKeon, “Historizing Patriarchy” through section IV (pp. 295-307 and section VIII, 315-16)*; Introduction to Betsy Thoughtless.
19: Betsy Thoughtless to Chapter XIX, p. 294.
26: Continue to end of Volume 3, p. 473. William Blackstone, “On Husbands and Wives,” pp. 433, 437-38, 440-445.* Expert Opinions.
Nov. 2: Finish Betsy Thoughtless. Expert Opinions.
9: George Savile, Marquis of Halifax, Lady’s New Year’s’ Gift: or, Advice to a Daughter (ECCO, 1741 edition: search by “Savile”) +; Shea Stuart, “Subversive Didacticism in Eliza Haywood’s Betsy Thoughtless,” SEL, 42.3 (2002): 559-75.*
16: Reports/ Discussion.
30: Reports/ Discussion
Dec. 7: Papers Due (electronically): 3:00 p.m.