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EN961 Society, Economics and Empire in the British Novel, 1688-1815

(Module not available 2013-14)

Course Leader: Professor Karen O’Brien (H512).

Time: Flexible. To be decided after discussion with students.

This module aims to give students an in-depth understanding of the historical circumstances and contexts of the rise of the British novel. It is aimed at history students and at literature students, and it does not presuppose prior reading of the fiction of this period. It tracks the development of the novel during the period when it first started to acquire its modern form, and uses fictional texts as a means of approaching key historical issues – the formation of national identity during this period of England’s union with Scotland and Ireland, Britain’s connections to the wider world, urban life, property and the family, criminality and the criminal law, the American and French Revolutions, and emigration to the British colonies. The broad context for the module is the revolution in print and reading that took place during this period, and that underpinned the spectacular generic development of the novel. The importance of this will be underscored by a supplementary afternoon workshop on “print culture and social transformation, 1688-1815”. Students are very welcome to audit all or part of the course.

The module will be divided into thematic weeks or pairs of weeks. Weeks 1, 9 and 10 explore the ways in which the novel facilitated an integrated imagining of the nation in the wake of the Scottish and, later Irish, unions, and of the global order as it was reshaped by transnational trade, warfare, imperial activities and forced or voluntary human mobility. Weeks 2 and 3 investigate changing ideas of character and responsibility as they emerged simultaneously in the fiction and criminal law of the period, and also examine philanthropic reformism in penal and other contexts. Week 4 explores the spatial demarcation of gender and class in developing urban sites of leisure and work. In weeks 5 and 6 the course considers the social intervention of the novel in changing power structures and financial arrangements within the family, and also explores the relationship of fiction to contemporary political economy from Smith to Malthus. In weeks 7 and 8 we look at the impact of both the American and French revolutions upon contemporary fiction, and examine the ways in which fiction sought to precipitate a reconstitution of class relationships through languages of rights, individual autonomy or sentimental affect.

Core readings (roughly one novel, plus other shorter readings per week) are marked with an asterisk. Other readings will be in extract and, in many cases, supplied in photocopy. For each theme there are supplementary readings from both primary and secondary sources. Each week there will be a two-hour seminar, and early in the course there will also be an afternoon workshop.


Week 1: Early Globalisation and Empire: *Aphra Behn, Oroonoko (1688), *Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe (1719) [supplementary readings from Charles Davenant’s writings on commerce and empire]

Weeks 2 and 3: Criminality, Justice and the Law: *Defoe, Moll Flanders (1722) , Fielding, Jonathan Wild (1743) [extract], *Oliver Goldsmith, The Vicar of Wakefield (1766) [supplementary readings from Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England and John Howard, The State of Prisons in England]

Week 4: Urban Identities, Libertine Cultures: *Eliza Haywood, Fantomina (1724) [copy provided], Hugh Kelly, Memoirs of a Magdalen (1766) [extract], *Frances Burney, Evelina (1778) [supplementary passages from Mandeville, The Fable of the Bees

Weeks 5 and 6: Family, Property, Political Economy: Samuel Richardson, Clarissa (1748) [short extracts], *Maria Edgeworth, Castle Rackrent (1800), *Jane Austen, Emma (1815)

[supplementary readings from Smith’s Wealth of Nations]

Weeks 7 and 8: Radical Revolutions in Politics and Sentiment: *Samuel Jackson Pratt, Emma Corbett (1780) [photocopy], *William Godwin, Caleb Williams (1794) [supplementary readings from Burke’s American speeches and Reflections and Paine’s Common Sense]

Weeks 9 and 10: Displacement, Emigration and the Making of the United Kingdom: *Frances Brooke, Emily Montague (1769), *Tobias Smollett, Humphry Clinker (1771), Sydney Owenson, The Wild Irish Girl (1806) [short extract] [supplementary readings from Malthus’s Essay on Population]

Secondary Readings

a) General Reading

Nancy Armstrong, How Novels Think: The Limits of British Individualism, 1719-1900 (2005)

Maxine Berg, Luxury and Pleasure in Eighteenth-Century Britain (2005)

The Cambridge History of Romantic Literature, ed. James Chandler (2009), chapters 19 and 20

Lennard Davis, Factual Fictions: The Origins of the English Novel (1983)

H. T. Dickinson ed., A Companion to Eighteenth-Century Britain (2002)

Boyd Hilton, A Mad, Bad and Dangerous People? England 1783-1846 (2006)

J. Paul Hunter, Before Novels: The Cultural Contexts of Eighteenth-Century Fiction (1990)

Thomas Keymer and Jon Mee, eds. The Cambridge Companion to English Literature, 1740-1830 (2004)

Paul Langford, A Polite and Commercial People: England, 1727-83 (1989)

Robert DeMaria, ed., British Literature 1640-1789: A Critical Reader (1999)

Michael McKeon, The Origins of the English Novel 1600-1740 (1987)

Franco Moretti, Atlas of the European Novel, 1800-1900 (1998)

Patrick Parrinder, Nation and Novel: The English Novel from its Origins to the Present Day (2006)

The Cambridge History of English Literature, 1660-1780, ed. John Richetti (2005), chapters 1, 2, 4, 28

The Cambridge Companion to the Eighteenth-Century Novel, ed. John Richetti (1996)

John Richetti, The English Novel in History, 1700-80 (1999)

Clifford Siskin, The Work of Writing: Literature and Social Change in Britain, 1700-1830 (1998)

Recognizing the Romantic Novel: New Histories of British Fiction 1780-1830, eds. Jillian Heydt-Stevenson and Charlotte Sussman (2009)

Ian Watt, The Rise of the Novel: Studies in Defoe, Richardson and Fielding (1957)

William Warner, Licensing Entertainment: The Elevantion of Novel Reading in Britain, 1684-1750 (1998)

Steven N. Zwicker, The Cambridge Companion to English Literature, 1650-1740 (1998)

b) Writing and Reading Novels

Roger Chartier, The Order of Books: Readers, Authors and Libraries in Europe between the 14th and 18th Centuries (1994)

Jan Fergus, Provincial Readers in Eighteenth-Century England (2007)

Peter Garside, James Raven and Rainer Schowerling eds., The English Novel; A Bibliographical Survey, vol 1, 1770-99, vol 2 1800-29 (2000)

James Raven, The Business of Books: Booksellers and the English Book Trade, 1450-1850 (2007)

Isabel Rivers ed., Books and their Readers in Eighteenth-Century England (1982) and Books and their Readers: New Essays (2001)

The Cambridge History of the Book in Britain, 1695-1830, eds. Michael F. Suarez and Michael L. Turner (from July, 2009)

c) Reading for each theme

Week 1

Srinivas Aravamudan, Tropicopolitans: Colonialism and Agency, 1688-1804 (1999)

*C. A. Bayly, The Birth of the Modern World, 1780-1914, “Passages from Old Regimes to Modernity” (2004), pp.49-83

Paula Backscheider, Daniel Defoe: His Life (1989)

*Ros Ballaster, Seductive Forms: Women’s Amatory Fiction, chapter 3 (1992)

Catherine Gallagher, Nobody’s Story: The Vanishing Acts of Women Writers in the Marketplace, 1670-1820 (1994)

A. G. Hopkins, Globalization in World History (2002)

John Richetti, Defoe’s Narratives: Situations and Structures (1975)

The Cambridge Companion to Aphra Behn, eds. Janet Todd and Derek Hughes (2004)
Weeks 2 and 3

Martin C. Battestin, Henry Fielding: A Life (1989)

John Bender, Imagining the Penitentiary: Fiction and the Architecture of Mind in Eighteenth-Century England (1987)

*Margot C. Finn, `Fictions of Debt and Credit in English Culture’ in The Character of Credit: Personal Debt in English Culture, 1740-1914 (2003), pp.25-89

Lynn Hunt, Inventing Human Rights: A History (2007)

Peter King, Crime and the Law in England, 1750-1840 (2006)

*Nicola Lacey, `”Don’t Go to Murder My Character”: Criminal Responsibility in the Age of Moll Flanders’ in Women, Crime and Character: From Moll Flanders to Tess of the D’Urbervilles (2008), chapter 1

Josephine McDonagh, Child Murder and British Culture, 1720-1900 (2003)

John P. Zomchick, Family and Law in Eighteenth-Century Fiction (1993)

Week 4

Dana Arnold ed., The Metropolis and its Image: Constructing Identities in London, 1750-1950 (1999)

John Brewer, The Pleasures of Imagination: English Culture in the Eighteenth Century (1997)

Tom Keymer, Richardson’s Clarissa and the Eighteenth-Century Reader (1992)

*Miles Ogborn, Spaces of Modernity: London’s Geographies, 1680-1780 (1998), chapter 2 `The Magdalen Hospital’ and chapter 4 `The Pleasure Garden’

George Rude, Hanoverian London, 1714-1808 (2003)

Weeks 5 and 6

Cliona o Gallchoir, Maria Edgeworth: Women, Enlightenment and Nation (2005)

Peter Knox-Shaw, Jane Austen and the Enlightenment (2004)

Claudia L. Johnson, Jane Austen:  Women, Politics and the Novel (1989\)

*Michael McKeon, `From State as Family to Family as State’, The Secret History of Domesticity: Public, Private and the Division of Knowledge (2005), chapter 3.

*Ruth Perry, Novel Relations: The Transformation of Kinship in English Literature and Culture, 1748-1818 (2004), chapter 2

Donald Winch, Riches and Poverty: An Intellectual History of Political Economy in Britain, 1750-1834 (1996)

Weeks 7 and 8

John Barrell, The Spirit of Despotism: Invasions of Privacy in the 1790s (2006)

James Chandler, `Moving Accidents: The Emergence of Sentimental Probability’, in The Age of Cultural Revolutions, eds. Colin Jones and Dror Wahrman (2002), pp.137-77.

The Atlantic Enlightenment, eds. Susan Manning and Francis D. Cogliano (2008)

*David Eastwood, `Patriotism and the English State in the 1790s’ in The French Revolution and British Popular Politics, ed. Mark Philp (2004)

Christopher Flynn, Americans in British Literature, 1770-1832: A Breed Apart (2008), chapter 1.

Eliga Gould, The Persistence of Empire: British Political Culture in the Age of the American Revolution (2000)

Mark Philp, Godwin’s Political Justice (1986)

*Stephen Shapiro, `The Growth of the Anglo-French World System’ in The Culture and Commerce of the Early American Novel: Reading the Atlantic World System (2008), pp.51-96.

Weeks 9 and 10

Colin Kidd, Subverting Scotland’s Past: Scottish Whig Histories and the Creation of an Anglo-British Identity, 1689-c.1830 (1993)

*Janet Sorensen, `Women, Celts and Hollow Voices in Tobias Smollett’s Brokering of Anglo-British Linguistic Identities’, in The Grammar of Empire in Eighteenth-Century Writing (2000), chapter 3.

*Charlotte Sussman, `Fictions of Population in Defoe, Goldsmith and Scott’, in The Eighteenth-Century Novel: A Companion to Literature and Culture, eds. Paula Backscheider and Catherine Ingrassia (2005), pp.191-214

The Oxford History of the British Empire: The Eighteenth Century (1998), ed. P.J. Marshall, chapter 2