Citizens of the World (EAS3234)

StaffProfessor Jane Spencer - Lecturer
Dr Andrew Rudd - Lecturer
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15
NQF Level6
Duration of Module Term 1: 11 weeks;

Module aims

The module is designed to advance knowledge of eighteenth-century and Romantic period literature, with an emphasis on the national and international contexts in which it was produced. The module will enable students to bring a wide range of critical and theoretical techniques to bear on literary texts and other cultural artifacts and to develop individual expertise leading towards further study, including at postgraduate level.

The module is organised broadly chronologically. It begins with two foundational texts of the cosmopolitan tradition, Oliver Goldsmith’s The Citizen of the World and Voltaire’s Candide, before proceeding to a seminal text of British national identity, Samuel Johnson’s Journey to the Western Isles of Scotland. Students will read Rousseau’s The Social Contract, a text which helped to form the ideals of the French Revolution, alongside poetry of liberty and revolution by Anna Letitia Aikin (Barbauld), William Blake, and William Wordsworth. Turning to the theme of empire, increasingly a vehicle for British encounters with the world, we will read the poetry of Phillis Wheatley, the slavery narrative of Olaudah Equiano and Jane Austen’s novel Mansfield Park. The module then examines depictions of Europe and the Hellenic world through the writings of Mary Wollstonecraft, Byron and Keats, before turning to ideas of contagion by the foreign and perpetual exile of the self in the writings of Coleridge, John Polidori and Percy Shelley.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Demonstrate an advanced appreciation of specific authors and texts from the eighteenth century and Romantic period;
  • 2. Demonstrate an advanced appreciation of the literary history and cultural context of the eighteenth century and Romantic period;
  • 3. Demonstrate a critical understanding of some of the key themes, topics and debates that emerge in eighteenth-century and Romantic texts;
  • 4. Engage in significant critical debates surrounding issues relating to the eighteenth century and Romantic period, e.g. nation and identity, empire, slavery and the cultural role of the artist.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

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

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 8. Through seminar work and presentations, demonstrate advanced communication skills, and an ability to work both individually and in groups;
  • 9. Through essay-writing, demonstrate appropriate research and bibliographic skills, an advanced capacity to construct a coherent, substantiated argument, and a capacity to write clear and correct prose;
  • 10. Through research for seminars, essays, and presentations demonstrate advanced proficiency in information retrieval and analysis;
  • 11. Through sitting their final examination, demonstrate advanced proficiency in the use of memory and in the development, organisation, and expression of ideas under pressure of time.

Syllabus plan


1.  Cosmopolitanism: Oliver Goldsmith, The Citizen of the World (1762), 'The Traveller', 'The Deserted Village'.

2.   Optimism: Voltaire, Candide (1759).


The Nation and Beyond

3.   Union: Samuel Johnson, Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland (1775).

4.   Empire and Slavery I: Olaudah Equiano, Interesting Narrative (1789) and Phillis Wheatley, poems.

5.   Revolution: Jean-Jacques Rousseau, The Social Contract (1762) Anna Letitia Aikin (Barbauld), 'Corsica'; William Blake, 'A Song of Liberty', and 'Visions of the Daughters of Albion'; William Wordsworth, extracts from The Prelude.

6.   Empire and Slavery II: Jane Austen, Mansfield Park (1814).


North and South

7.   The North: Mary Wollstonecraft, Letters Written in Sweden, Norway and Denmark (1796).

8.   Cult of the South: Byron, Don Juan (1819-24), extracts.

9.  Hellenism: John Keats, “Lamia” (1820) and other poems.


Selves and Others

10.  Contagion: S.T. Coleridge, “Christabel” (1816) and John Polidori, The Vampyre (1819).

11.  Exile: Percy Shelley, “Julian and Maddalo” (1824) and other poems.

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
Guided Independent33Study Group Preparation and Meetings
Guided Independent70Individual Seminar Preparation
Guided Independent164Reading, Research and Essay Preparation

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
Essay503000 words1-7, 9-10Feedback sheet with opportunity for tutorial meeting
Exam50Two hours1-7, 9-11Feedback sheet with opportunity for tutorial meeting

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
EssayEssay1-7, 9-10Referral/deferral period
ExamExam1-7, 9-11Referral/deferral period

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Core reading:


Oliver Goldsmith, Selected Writings, ed. John Lucas (Fyfield Books).


Voltaire, Candide and Other Stories, trans. Roger Pearson (Oxford World’s Classics)


Samuel Johnson and James Boswell, Journey to the Western Isles and the Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides, ed. Peter Levi (Penguin Classics).


Olaudah Equiano, The Interesting Narrative and Other Writings, ed. Vincent Carrett (Penguin Classics).


Jane Austen, Mansfield Park, ed. Claudia L. Johnson (Norton Critical Editions).


Mary Wollstonecraft, Letters Written in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark, ed. Tone Brekke and Jon Mee (Oxford World’s Classics).


Norton Anthology of English Literature, volume D (The Romantic Period), ed. Greenblatt, Abrams et al (Norton).


Byron, Don Juan, ed. Steffan, Steffan and Pratt (Penguin Classics).


Texts by Rousseau, Aikin, Wheatley and Polidori will be available as PDFs on the module ELE page.



Secondary reading:

Ros Ballaster, Fabulous Orients: Fictions of the East in England, 1662-1785 (2005).

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

Roderick Beaton, Byron’s War: Romantic Rebellion, Greek Revolution (2013).

Alan Bewell, Romanticism and Colonial Disease (2003).

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

Linda Colley, Britons: Forging the Nation (1992).

Robert Fine, Cosmopolitanism (2007).

David Higgins, Romantic Englishness: Nation, Empire, and Autobiography, 1780-1850 (2014).

Julia Kristeva, Strangers to Ourselves (1991).

Nigel Leask, Curiosity and the Aesthetics of Travel Writing (2002).

Jerome McGann, The Romantic Ideology (1983).

William St. Clair, The Reading Nation in the Romantic Period (2004).

Esther Wohlgemut, Romantic Cosmopolitanism (2009).

Module has an active ELE page?


Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Students registered on the course will be able to access the Citizens of the World ELE site. This will include a lecture schedule, a module reading list and useful internet links.

Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date


Key words search

Cosmopolitanism, eighteenth century, Romanticism, nation, empire, slavery