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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures : English Literature

Undergraduate Course: Sex, Seduction and Sedition in Restoration Literature (ENLI10333)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Literatures, Languages and Cultures CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryStudents taking this course will explore the ways in which Restoration literature depicts sex, desire and love. They will analyse relationships between literary texts and the political, theological and philosophical debates taking place about sexuality in Restoration culture. As well as reading a range of different types of literary text (from religious epic to sexually explicit libertine poetry; poetic encomiums on the sanctity of marriage to sensationalist narratives about debauchery and prostitution), students will also examine and assess the place of sexual imagery in contemporary philosophical and theological arguments about the nature of truth, morality, politics and the state. The aim will be to develop an understanding of the ways in which Restoration literary texts present, endorse, question or challenge the ideas and practices of the culture in which they were produced.

After the radical challenges to social order and hierarchy that occurred during the Civil Wars, the Restoration settlement sought to re-impose cohesion by means of an idea of the state as a secure family unit. At the same time, however, the period also saw the flourishing of libertine culture with its sexually explicit literature and art, much of which appeared deliberately to challenge the officially sanctioned ideas of family and state. Images of seduction in Restoration culture thus present not only a range of sexual behaviours but also, and particularly when linked to ideas of sedition, address the political tensions and debates of the period directly.

Students will have the opportunity to read some of the most influential literary writing of the Restoration period (including texts by Dryden, Behn, Rochester, Milton and Vanbrugh) in the context of political theory, philosophy and conduct writing by thinkers such as Hobbes, Filmer, Allestree and Locke. They will discuss these writers in relation to topics such as libertinism, conscience, national identity, marriage, sexuality, pornography, debauchery and lust.

Course description Outline Syllabus:

Policing Desire: Sex and the Social Order

1 Of woman's first disobedience? Eve's Seduction
Milton, Paradise Lost

2 Love and Marriage: Desire, Power and Patriarchy
Milton, Paradise Lost; Dryden, 'Eleanora'; Behn 'The Adventure of
the Black Lady' and 'The Unfortunate Bride'; and Allestree, 'Preface' to
The Ladies Calling (handouts)

3 'His sceptre and his prick are of a length': Seduction, Sedition and the
Dryden, 'Astraea Redux', Milton, Paradise Lost, Hobbes, Leviathan
(excerpts), Filmer, Patriarcha (excerpts), Locke, Two Treatises on
Government (excerpts) and Rochester, 'A Satire on Charles II'

Sex and Seduction: Libertinism

4 'And love he loves, for he loves fucking much...': Celebrating Vice?
Libertine poems by Etherege, Rochester, Oldham and Behn

5 'Restless he rolls about from whore to whore...': Writing Prostitution
Anonymous, The London Jilt; or, The Politick Whore

Seduction and the Politics of Sedition: Writing the Exclusion Crisis

6 'Made drunk with honour, and debauched with praise': Seduction
as Sedition (1)
Dryden, Absalom and Achitophel

7 'Let's bugger one another now, by G_d!': Seduction as Sedition (2)
Dryden, The Medal, Settle, The Medal Reversed and Shadwell, The
Medal of John Bayes

8 Essay Completion Week (no class)

Restoration Theatre and Family Values: Lust Provoked or Disorder Contained?

9 'What is wit in a wife good for, but to make a man a cuckold?':
Libertinism on the Stage
William Wycherley, The Country Wife

10 'Vain amorous coxcombs everywhere are found': Staging Desire
Aphra Behn, The Feigned Courtesans and The Lucky Chance

11 Unhappily ever after: Performing Marriage
John Vanbrugh, The Provoked Wife

Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: ( English Literature 1 (ENLI08001) OR Scottish Literature 1 (ENLI08016)) AND ( English Literature 2 (ENLI08003) OR Scottish Literature 2 (ENLI08004))
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Additional Costs Essential course texts
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2017/18, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  12
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 20, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 176 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 60 %, Coursework 30 %, Practical Exam 10 %
Additional Information (Assessment) 1 essay of 2,500 words (30%);
1 practice assessment (10%)
1 examination essay of 3,000 words (60%)

Feedback Not entered
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Construct original, clear and coherent arguments about Restoration literature's depictions of sex, seduction and sedition;
  2. Analyse literary texts using recognised literary critical methodologies to substantiate and illustrate those arguments;
  3. Extrapolate, evaluate and assess ideas from non-literary texts (both from the period and more recently published) in order to bring them to bear on their analyses of Restoration literature;
  4. Evaluate the extent to which ideas and images of sex, seduction and sedition are central to Restoration politics, philosophy and culture;
  5. Orally present the results of research undertaken individually and as part of a small group, respond critically to such research undertaken by others, and critically evaluate the importance of such material for an understanding of the chief themes of the course.
Reading List
Additional Information
Course URL
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Special Arrangements Numbers are limited and students taking degrees not involving English or Scottish literature need the written approval of the head of English Literature
Additional Class Delivery Information Two hour seminar per week for 10 weeks; one hour Autonomous Learning Group per week for 10 weeks, at times to be arranged
KeywordsRestoration literature sedition seduction sex
Course organiserDr Simon Malpas
Tel: (0131 6)50 3596
Course secretaryMs Sheila Strathdee
Tel: (0131 6)50 3619
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