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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 Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course explores the ways in which Restoration literature depicts sex, desire and love, and discusses the ways in which these categories were central to the ways in which the period constructed its senses of personal, national and theological identities. We 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; from poetic encomiums on the sanctity of marriage to sensationalist popular narratives about lust, debauchery and prostitution), we will also examine the place of sexuality 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 writing about sex, seduction and sedition presents, endorses, questions or challenges the values and practices associated with love, marriage, family and nation.
Course description 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 and nurturing 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. We will look at such topics as the religious and social implications of Eve's seduction by Satan in Paradise Lost; explorations of female desire and power in Aphra Behn drama; ideas of the nation as a family unit in Thomas Hobbes' and John Locke's philosophy; sedition as a form of seduction in John Dryden's political poetry; and questions of whether the Earl of Rochester's libertine poetry encourages or satirises debauchery. Many of the tensions of Restoration society persist in today's world, and we will also explore contemporary theories of gender and sexuality in order to consider what light the writing of the later seventeenth century might shed on present-day debates and sex, gender and power.

Discussions this year will fall into four main sections:
''Of Woman's First Disobedience'' Sex and the Social Order will look at the legal, theological and political status of marriage and family life in the period, and explore the ways in which the nation and church were conceived in terms of forms of family relationships.
'And love he loves, for he loves fucking much'': Sex, Seduction and Libertinism will explore Libertine writing in both its aristocratic and popular modes, and consider the politics of lechery, prostitution and debauchery in the period.
'Made drunk with honour, and debauched with praise': Seduction as Sedition will focus on the so-called 'Exclusion Crisis' of the 1670s to discuss the ways in which political conflict about the future of the monarchy was played out in popular literary writing.
Restoration Theatre and Family Values: Lust Provoked or Disorder Contained? will examine the presentation of family values, libertine behaviour and social order in the Restoration theatre by reading a series of plays that focus on sex, power and the politics of gender.

This course explores some of the most influential literary writing of the Restoration period (including texts by Dryden, Behn, Rochester, Milton and Vanbrugh) as well as popular publishing (such as The London Jilt, 'Wandering Whore' pamphlets, scandal sheets and popular ballads) in the context of political theory, philosophy and conduct writing by thinkers such as Hobbes, Filmer, Allestree and Locke. Much of the required reading, particularly the non-literary and contextual material, will be made available via Learn and the library resource lists, and much of the most important secondary reading is also digitally accessible.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: English Literature 1 (ENLI08001) OR Scottish Literature 1 (ENLI08016) OR Literary Studies 1A (ENLI08020) AND Literary Studies 1B (ENLI08021) AND English Literature 2 (ENLI08003) OR Scottish Literature 2 (ENLI08004) OR Literary Studies 2A: English Literature in the World, 1380-1788 (ENLI08024) AND Literary Studies 2B: English Literature in the World, post-1789 (ENLI08025) OR Scottish Literature 2A (ENLI08022) AND Scottish Literature 2B (ENLI08023)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements For students who took First Year courses prior to session 2021-22, a pass in English Literature 1 (ENLI08001) or Scottish Literature 1 (ENLI08016) is an acceptable equivalent
Additional Costs Essential course texts
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2024/25, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  0
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 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) 1 coursework essay of 2,000 words (30%);
1 final essay of 3,000 words (70%)

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
Primary Texts
(Any edition of the following is fine, and the library provides access to electronic editions of most of these via the Resource List for the course. Other course material will be available online via Learn.)
Anonymous. The London Jilt; or, The Politic Whore
Behn, Aphra. The Rover and Other Plays
Hammond, Paul, ed. Restoration Literature: an Anthology
Milton, John. Paradise Lost
Vanbrugh, John. The Provoked Wife
Wycherley, William. The Country Wife
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 secretaryMr Iain Harrison
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