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Secondary Reading

Online Resources

A list of online resources that may help you to explore your interest in the period and/or be of use when it comes to researching your essays. It’s necessarily quite a catch-all list, so feel free to pick and choose. For more specific guidance tailored to your essay topic, please feel free to email me or arrange to chat during my office hours (times TBC).

British Library 18th Century-Literature Articles

A range of short and informative scholarly overviews of literature and culture of the eighteenth century, including a number of the texts we’ve covered (The Beggar’s Opera, Pamela, Tristram Shandy, A Harlot’s Progress, Gulliver’s Travels)


Homosexuality in Eighteenth-Century England

Archive of documents related to the history of homosexuality



A database containing lists of numerous online resources related to the study of Romanticism which also includes a number of eighteenth century material (worth a browse but be aware that only some, not all, are freely accessible and you could easily lose yourself down a rabbit hole of the more obscure online collections)



Selected Annotated Bibliography


Nicholas Hudson, ‘Theories of Language’, in The Cambridge History of Literary Criticism, v. 4 (1660-1800), eds. C.J. Rawson and H.S. Nisbet (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 335-49.

If you read just one thing on eighteenth-century philosophy of language, it should be this. Hudson’s essay is so clear and comprehensive, and the context he gives should really help make sense of all the jokes about language in the Royal Society section of Gulliver’s Travels.


John Mullan, ‘Sensibility and Literary Criticism’, in The Cambridge History of Literary Criticism, v. 4 (1660-1800), eds. C.J. Rawson and H.S. Nisbet (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 417-433.

This is a useful overview of the cult of sensibility so important for understanding the eighteenth-century novel. For further study, see also Mullan’s book Sentiment and Sociability (1988)


Jack P. Greene Evaluating Empire and Confronting Colonialism in Eighteenth-Century Britain (2013)

History of empire in eighteenth-century literature and culture.


Laura Brown, Fables of Modernity: Literature and Culture in the English Eighteenth Century (2011)

Gives an account of the origins of modernity and its connection with two related paradigms of difference--the woman and the ‘native’ or non-European.


Ryan Hanley, Beyond Slavery and Abolition: Black British Writing, c.1770–1830 (2018)

Includes a good chapter on ‘Ignatius Sancho and Posthumous Literary Celebrity, 1779–1782’


Linda Kauffman, Discourses of Desire: Gender, Genre, and Epistolary Fictions (1986)

Excellent study of the epistolary genre – useful for Pamela and Fanny Hill


Ruth Yeazell, ‘Pamela’s Undesigning’, in Fictions of Modesty: Women and Courtship in the English Novel (1991), pp. 83-100. (Link is to Google Books but you can see the whole chapter)

Chapter on the perennial question of whether Pamela’s innocence is real or feigned.


Frances Ferguson, ‘Rape and the Rise of the Novel’, Representations 20 (1987), 88-112

Essay that I mentioned in the first seminar on Pamela. Links rise of the novel as a genre to rape trials and the epistemological question of how we can know another person’s intentions.


Patricia Meyer Spacks, Privacy: Concealing the Eighteenth-Century Self (2003)

Discussion of private and public realms in the eighteenth century.


Hal Gladfelder, ‘Obscenity, Censorship, and the Eighteenth-Century Novel: The Case of John Cleland’, The Wordsworth Circle, 35:3 (2004), 134-141,

Helpful essay with some historical details about print censorship.


Paddy Bullard, ed., The Oxford Handbook of Eighteenth-Century Satire (2019)

Whole range of essays discussing various aspects of satire – have a glance through to see which ones might interest you.

John T. Gilmore, Satire (2017)Link opens in a new window

Concise and readable general survey, using many eighteenth-century examples.


Fredric V. Bogel, The Difference Satire Makes: Rhetoric and Reading from Jonson to Byron (2012)

Useful overview of satire and especially good chapter on Gay’s The Beggar’s Opera


Felicity A. Nussbaum, The Brink of All We Hate: English Satires on Women, 1660-1750 (1984)

Useful introduction and chapter on Swift.


David Fairer, ‘‘“Where fuming trees refresh the thirsty air”: The World of Eco-Georgic’, Studies in Eighteenth-Century Culture, 40 (2011), 201-18.

Discussion of Georgic in the eighteenth-century. Helpful for thinking about Thomson’s Seasons.


John Goodridge, ‘Stephen Duck, The Thresher's Labour, and Mary Collier, The Woman's Labour’, A Companion to Eighteenth‐Century Poetry, ed. Christine Gerrard

(2006), pp. 209-222.

Provides some context for labouring-class poetry in general and the debates around Duck’s poem in particular.


Bridget Keegan, ‘Georgic Transformations and Stephen Duck’s The Thresher’s Labour’, SEL Studies in English Literature 1500-1900, 41.3 (2001), 545-62.

Discusses Duck’s poem in the context of the Pastoral and Georgic genres


Duncan Kelly, Adam Smith and The Limits of Sympathy, The Oxford Handbook of Adam Smith, eds., Christopher J. Berry, Maria Pia Paganelli, and Craig Smith(2013)

Summary that touches on several of the points covered in our discussion of Smith, especially good on the role of the imagination and sets his writing on sympathy in the context of his other works.


John C. Shields and Eric D. Lamore, New Essays on Phillis Wheatley (2011)

Various essays on Wheatley, especially in relation to the Georgic, literary allusion, and the print market in literary London.


Edward Copeland and Juliet McMaster (eds.), The Cambridge companion to Jane Austen (2011)

Good selection of scholarly essays on Austen.

General Historical Background

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

Linda Colley, Britons: Forging the Nation, 1707-1837 (1992)

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

Paul Langford, A Polite and Commercial People: England 1727-83 (1989) [key historical background]

James Sambrook, The Eighteenth Century: The Intellectual and Cultural Context (Longman Literature in English series, 1993)


Frederic V. Bogel, The Difference Satire Makes: Rhetoric and Reading from Jonson to Byron (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 2000).

Laura Brown, “Reading Race and Gender: Jonathan Swift,” Eighteenth-Century Studies 23.4 (1990), 425-443.

Ashley Marshall, “Contemporary Views on Satire, 1658-1770,” in Marshall, The Practice of Satire (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013).

Dustin Griffin, Satire: A Critical Reintroduction (Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 1994).

Mark Hallett, “Re-Reading A Harlot's Progress,” in Hallett, The Spectacle of Difference: Graphic Satire in the Age of Hogarth (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1999).

Felicity Nussbaum, The Brink of All We Hate: English Satires on Women 1660-1750 (Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 1984).

Michael Seidel, “Crisis Rhetoric and Satiric Power,” New Literary History 20.1 (1988), 165-86.

The Novel

Peter Garside and Karen O'Brien, The Oxford History of the Novel in English, Vol. 2: English and British Fiction, 1750-1820 (2015)

Brean Hammond and Shaun Regan, Making the Novel: Fiction and Society in Britain, 1660-1789 (2006)

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

Cheryl Nixon, Novel Definitions: An Anthology of Commentary on the Novel, 1688-1815 (2009)

Leah Orr, Novel Ventures: Fiction and Print Culture in England, 1690-1730 (2017)

Nick Seager, The Rise of the Novel: A Reader's Guide to Essential Criticism (2012)

Patricia Meyer Spacks, Novel Beginnings: Experiments in Eighteenth-Century English Fiction (2006)

Charlotte Sussman, Eighteenth-Century Literature, 1660-1789 (2011) -- A REALLY GOOD INTRODUCTION

Helen Thompson, Fictional Matter: Empiricism, Corpuscles, and the Novel (2016)

Michael McKeon, The Origins of the English Novel, 1600-1740 (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1987)

Ian Watt, The Rise of the Novel (Berkeley, 1967) William Warner, Licensing Entertainment: The Rise of Novel Reading in Britain: 1684-1750 (University of California Press, 1998)

Kathleen Lubey, Excitable Imaginations: Eroticism and Reading in Britain, 1660-1760 (Bucknell 2012)

Deidre Lynch, The Economy of Character: Novels, Market Culture, and the Business of Inner Meaning (University of Chicago Press, 1998)

Thomas Keymer and Peter Sabor, Pamela in the Marketplace: Literary Controversy and Print Culture (Cambridge University Press, 2005)

Tom Keymer, Sterne, the Moderns, and the Novel (Oxford, 2002)

Sandra McPherson, Harm’s Way: Tragic responsibility and the Novel Form (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010).

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

Space and Landscape

John Barrell, “An Unerring Gaze: the prospect of society in the poetry of James Thomson and John Dyer,” in Barrell, English Literature in History, 1730-80: An Equal, Wide Survey (London: Hutchinson, 1983).

Rachel Crawford, “English Georgic and British Nationhood,” ELH 65 (1998), 123–58.

Bridget Keegan, “Georgic Transformations and Stephen Duck’s The Thresher’s Labour,” SEL Studies in English Literature 1500-1900 41.3 (2001), 545-62.

Tim Fulford, Landscape, Liberty and Authority: Poetry, Criticism and Politics from Thomson to Wordsworth (Cambridge University Press, 2006), esp. chapters 1-3. Suvir Kaul, “Thomas Gray, Elegy Written in a Country Church Yard,” in Christine Gerrard (ed.), A Companion to Eighteenth-Century Poetry (Oxford: Blackwell, 2006).

Anthony Pollock, “Neutering Addison and Steele: Aesthetic Failure and the Spectatorial Public Sphere,” ELH 74.3 (2007), 707-34.

Raymond Williams, The Country and the City (London: Chatto & Windus, 1973).

Material Culture

Neil McKendrick, John Brewer, and J.H.Plumb, The Birth of a Consumer Society: the Commercialization of eighteenth-century England (Europa, 1982)

Lynn Festa, "Person, Animal, Thing: The 1796 Dog Tax and the Right to Superfluous Things" 
Eighteenth-Century Life 33.2, Spring 2009

Tita Chico, Designing Women: The Dressing Room in Eighteenth-Century English Literature and Culture (2005) Jonathan Lamb, The Things Thing Say (Chicago, Chicago UP)

Julie Park, The Self and It: Novel Objects in Eighteenth-Century England (Stanford, 2009)

Paula Byrne, The Real Jane Austen: a Life in Small Things (Harper Collins, 2012)

Mark Blackwell, Ed. The Secret Life of Things: Animals and Objects in Eighteenth-Century Fictions of Circulation (Bucknell, 2006)

Chloe Whigston Smith, Women, Work, and Clothes in the Eighteenth-Century Novel (Cambridge, 2013)

Tim Morton, Radical Food: The Culture and Politics of Eating and Drinking, 1790-1820 (Routledge, 2000)