Restoration and 18th-Century Studies

Restoration and 18th-Century Studies Faculty

Restoration and 18th-Century StudiesRestoration and Eighteenth-Century Studies at MU are anchored by tradition as the field thrives and grows. Current strengths of the program include literary and cultural studies on satire, the history of the book, and scholarly editing. Faculty members in the department have undertaken significant work on major authors from this period, particularly Jonathan Swift.

Faculty Overview
Stephen Karian teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on eighteenth-century satire, the history of the book, and other topics.

Noah Heringman occasionally teaches courses on aesthetic theory and other eighteenth-century topics in addition to his main field of Romanticism.

For further information, see each faculty member's page.

Library Holdings
Ellis Library subscribes to three important full-text searchable databases that together cover the vast majority of material printed in Britain and in the English language during the long eighteenth century: Early English Books Online, Eighteenth-Century Collections Online I and II, and British Periodicals.

Ellis Library's Special Collections has much to offer those conducting research in Restoration and eighteenth-century British literature and culture. The Rare Book Collection houses a large collection of seventeenth-, eighteenth-, and nineteenth-century English tracts, referred to as the Howey Collection. Since the original purchase of Howey materials, the library has added other material to complement this specialty. Many of the items in this category are unique in the United States, and in some cases, MU has the only known copy. This collection is especially strong in works about English religious life and controversies. More than 200 texts deal with the Popish Plot of 1678. Anonymous pamphlets on a variety of political topics now attributed to Daniel Defoe are also available. Additional materials in the collection consider the Dissenting tradition, seventeenth-century trials, Restoration satire, and eighteenth-century art and architecture. Ellis Library also owns the microfilm set Eighteenth-Century Sources for the Study of English Literature and Culture, the microfilm set English Cartoons and Satirical Prints, 1320-1832, in the British Museum, as well as microfilms of eighteenth-century journals and magazines. Of special interest locally are the sermons and related works associated with St. Mary the Virgin, Aldermanbury, a church designed by Christopher Wren that was moved from London to Fulton, Missouri in the 1960s.

Restoration and 18th-Century Studies


Course Offerings

Recent graduate seminars:

Book History and Eighteenth-Century Studies

Taught by Stephen Karian

This course examines Restoration and eighteenth-century British literature through the theoretical and methodological lens of “book history,” a sub-field in literary studies, history, and related disciplines that is concerned with the production, circulation, and consumption of texts in historical perspective. Book history has much to teach us for any milieu, and it holds particular importance for the long eighteenth century, a period that witnessed: the end of pre-publication censorship; the codification of copyright and the successful challenge to perpetual copyright; the expansion of the English printed book trade beyond London to the English provinces, Scotland, Ireland, and elsewhere; the growth of the professional author and the associated Grub Street mythos; the emergence of newspapers and magazines; attempts to construct a national literary canon; and the establishment of coffee houses at the beginning of this period and of circulating libraries near the end.

We will explore these topics and others in our readings and discussions of relevant primary and secondary material. Possible primary texts include: Rochester’s “Allusion to Horace”; Dryden’s “MacFlecknoe”; Swift’s Tale of a Tub and some of his poems; selections from The Tatler, The Spectator, and other periodicals; Pope’s Dunciad and other poems; Johnson’s Life of Savage, Life of Pope, and other writings; and other less canonical works, some of which will be accessed using major digital resources such as Early English Books Online and Eighteenth-Century Collections Online. We will also consult relevant holdings in Ellis Library’s Special Collections and will learn how to use major print and digital bibliographical tools. This course should be of interest for anyone wishing to study eighteenth-century literature or literature from another period from the perspective of book history.

English Verse Satire, 1660-1750

Taught by Stephen Karian

This course will explore the period 1660-1750, widely viewed as the golden age of English satire, as well as the major verse satirists of that period: Dryden, Rochester, Swift, Pope, and Johnson. We will situate their major works in the context of the wide range of satiric poetry in this period, including the sub-genres of burlesque, lampoon, and imitation. To gain a broad understanding of satiric writing in this period, we will also read satires by lesser-known poets. We will read and discuss important secondary materials relevant to the verse satires of these authors and to satire generally. Doing so will provide students with critical and theoretical frameworks for the study of verse satire and will equip them to write academic papers about this material.

Varieties of Eighteenth-Century Fiction

Taught by Stephen Karian

This course will explore major works of fiction from the period 1660-1800. Possible books to be assigned include: Oroonoko, Robinson Crusoe, Gulliver’s Travels, Tom Jones, Rasselas, Tristram Shandy, and Evelina. Rather than assume that this period is defined by the “rise of the novel,” an often-invoked but misleading phrase, this course will consider the varieties of prose fiction in the period, including the novel as well as other genres, such as satire, romance, and apologue. In addition to examining these works of fiction, we will study the relevant secondary material to understand the major scholarly debates surrounding fiction of this period.

Recent undergraduate courses:

Restoration and Eighteenth-Century Satire

Taught by Stephen Karian

Long before John Stewart, Stephen Colbert, and the creators of _South Park_, there were John Dryden, John Wilmot, the Earl of Rochester, Jonathan Swift, Alexander Pope, Samuel Johnson, and Laurence Sterne, some of the many satirists active during the Restoration and eighteenth century, the period widely viewed as the golden age of English satire. We will read and discuss some of the great works of these satirists, which are variously bawdy, somber, ironic, obscure, obscene, and hilarious.

Likely readings will be drawn from this list:

  • John Dryden, "MacFlecknoe"
  • John Wilmot, the Earl of Rochester, various poems
  • Jonathan Swift, various poems, A Modest Proposal, A Tale of a Tub, and Gulliver's Travels
  • Alexander Pope, The Rape of the Lock, The Dunciad, and other poems
  • Samuel Johnson, London and The Vanity of Human Wishes
  • Laurence Sterne, The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy

Love and Sex in Restoration and Eighteenth-Century English Literature

Taught by Stephen Karian

The Restoration and Eighteenth Century (1660-1800) witnessed major changes and conflicts in the relationships between men and women and in the understanding of love and sexuality. Marrying for love was increasingly becoming an ideal, though in practice property and wealth often dictated who married whom. Sexual desire was widely acknowledged, sometimes in explicit terms in pornographic literature; yet there was a growing effort to police that desire on the part of both men and women. This was a period that saw the rise of feminism, an intellectual and political movement that transformed Western culture. Such concerns reverberate throughout this period's literature, which ranges in tone from the polite to the obscene. We will accordingly examine literary works that explore topics such as: the power struggles between men and women, the quest for an ideal marriage, and the sexual drive that can work both with and against sentiments of love.

Readings will be chosen from: the plays of Wycherley, Congreve, and Farquhar; the poems of Rochester, Pope, and Swift; the fiction of Haywood, Richardson, and Burney; non-fictional writings of Pepys, Boswell, and Wollstonecraft; and the works of other contemporaries.