Satire and the City: English Literature 1660-1750 (EAS2102)

StaffDr Chris Ewers - Convenor
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15
NQF Level5
Duration of Module Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module aims

The period 1660 to 1750 was politically and culturally tumultuous. The Stuart dynasty was restored to the throne, and then deposed again. London expanded massively, becoming the largest city in the world and a centre for financial and criminal activity. The theatresâ??oclosed during the civil war and interregnumâ??oreopened, and actresses appeared on the English stage for the first time. The spread of literacy and growth of the press led to the emergence of many new literary genresâ??oabove all the periodical and the novelâ??oand of the first professional authors, many of whom were women. Satire and polemical writing flourished in the period, as writers reacted against (or celebrated) these seismic shifts.

This module offers an in-depth look at the writing of the period. In particular, it focuses on satirical writing and on the literature of the city. Students will read a broad range of texts, drawn equally from the poetry, prose and drama of the periodâ??oand relate these texts to the revolutionary times in which they were written.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. demonstrate an informed appreciation of specific literary texts and authors from the period 1660 to 1750;
  • 2. demonstrate a sound knowledge of the literary history of the period;
  • 3. demonstrate an informed appreciation of the relationship between politics, culture, and literature in the period;

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 4. demonstrate an ability to analyse the literature of an earlier era and to relate its concerns and its modes of expression to its historical context;
  • 5. demonstrate an ability to interrelate texts and discourses specific to their own discipline with issues in the wider context of cultural and intellectual history;
  • 6. demonstrate an ability to understand and analyse relevant theoretical ideas, and to apply these ideas to literary texts;

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 7. through seminar work, demonstrate communication skills, and an ability to work both individually and in groups;
  • 8. through essay-writing, demonstrate appropriate research and bibliographic skills, a capacity to construct a coherent, substantiated argument, and a capacity to write clear and correct prose;
  • 9. substantiated argument, and a capacity to write clear and correct prose; through research for seminars and essays, demonstrate proficiency in information retrieval and analysis.

Syllabus plan

The module starts by looking at the restoration of Charles II after the Cromwellian interregnum, analysing the dramatic cultural and political changes of the period and the response by diarists such as Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn, as well as the interrogation of the new freedoms of libertinism in the drama of George Etheredge’s The Man of Mode (1676), Aphra Behn’s The Rover (1677), and the poems of John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester.

The increasing importance of commerce and politeness is reflected in Joseph Addison and Richard Steele’s The Spectator (1711-12), while the combative print culture of the period and the battle between Ancients and Moderns is considered by looking at writers such as Jonathan Swift. John Gay’s Trivia (1716) interrogates the increasingly complex urban spaces of London, while the poetry of Swift, Anne Finch and Mary Wortley Montagu debate issues of gender and the status of female authors.

Daniel Defoe’s Moll Flanders (1722) and Gay’s The Beggar’s Opera (1728) suggest both the interest in a growing criminal underworld as well as the way writers of the period negotiate new cultural forms such as the novel, with Alexander Pope making his own intervention in the world of Grub Street in his mock-heroic The Dunciad (1728-43). The course finishes by considering the importance of the emergence of the novel, and looks at the satirical prints of the period, such as Hogarth’s A Rake’s Progress and Marriage A-la-Mode.

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities 11Text-based lectures
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities 6Contextual lectures
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities 22Seminars
Guided Independent33study group preparation and meetings
Guided Independent70seminar preparation (individual)
Guided Independent158reading, research and essay preparation

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Peer-assessed essay1000 words1-9Feedback from peers and tutor in seminar

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay452000 words1-6, 8-9Feedback sheet with opportunity for tutorial follow-up.
Exam45Two hours1-6, 8-10Feedback sheet with opportunity for tutorial follow-up.
Seminar Participation10Continuous Oral Feedback with opportunity for office hours follow-up

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
EssayEssay1-6, 8-9Referral/deferral period
ExamExam1-6, 8-10Referral/deferral period
Seminar ParticipationRepeat Study or mitigation ContinuousReferral/deferral period

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Basic reading:

Stephen Greenblatt et al. (ed.), The Norton Anthology of English Literature: The Restoration and Eighteenth Century, 8th edn. (2006)

Scott McMillin (ed.), Restoration and Eighteenth-Century Comedy (Norton Critical Editions), 2nd ed. (1997)

Alexander Pope, Selected Poems (ed.) Pat Rogers (World's Classics, 1994, rev. 2008)

Daniel Defoe, Moll Flanders (ed.) David Blewett (Penguin, 1989)


Secondary Reading:

David Nokes, Raillery and Rage: A Study of Eighteenth-Century Satire (Brighton, 1988)

Howard Weinbrot, Britannia's Issue: The Rise of British Literature from Dryden to Ossian (Cambridge,


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

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

(Cambridge, 2004)

Henry Power, Epic into Novel: Henry Fielding, Scriblerian Satire, and the Consumption of Classical Literature (Oxford, 2015)

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Key words search

English, Literature, Long 18th Century, Satire, City