Revival and Return: Using the Past from Pope to Keats (EASM142)

StaffDr Andrew Rudd - Lecturer
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15.00
NQF Level7
Duration of Module Term 1: 11 weeks;

Module aims

The long eighteenth century was a period of rapid change and innovation, but was also an age in which writers, artists, scholars and architects increasingly defined themselves in relation to the past. Indeed, many of the fiercest intellectual and political disputes of the period centred on differing interpretations of history. Neoclassical authors went to ancient Rome for literary models, while revolutionary thinkers looked to it for republican virtues. Reviving interest in medieval Europe inspired Gothic novels, and a myth of ancient Britain helped to create new conceptions of poetry. This module will provide an introduction to eighteenth-century (and early nineteenth-century) literature and culture, focusing on the reception of ancient, medieval, and renaissance culture. It will involve detailed study of work by canonical authors such as Pope, Johnson, Walpole, Goldsmith, Coleridge and Keats, as well as less well known figures.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Demonstrate advanced critical knowledge and understanding of the uses of the past in eighteenth-century English culture
  • 2. Demonstrate an advanced appreciation of modern theoretical debates surrounding the interpretation of these issues
  • 3. Demonstrate an advanced capacity to identify the complex relations between artistic production and the social, economic, political and cultural developments of the period
  • 4. Demonstrate an intellectually sophisticated ability to apply this knowledge to the analysis of eighteenth-century texts

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 5. Demonstrate an intellectually sophisticated ability to analyse the literature and culture of the long eighteenth century, and to relate its concerns and modes of expression to its historical context.
  • 6. Demonstrate an advanced and autonomous ability to relate texts and discourses specific to their own discipline to wider issues of cultural and intellectual history
  • 7. An advanced and autonomous ability to understand and analyse relevant theoretical ideas, and to apply these ideas to literary texts.
  • 8. Demonstrate an advanced and precise ability to work from the detail of literary texts, with a full appreciation of their formal aspects.
  • 9. Demonstrate an advanced ability to digest, select, and organise interdisciplinary material and to trace the development of debate across disciplinary boundaries.

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 10. Through seminar work and presentations, demonstrate advanced communication skills, and an ability to articulate their views convincingly both individually and in groups
  • 11. Through essay-writing, demonstrate advanced research and bibliographic skills, an advanced and intellectually mature capacity to construct a coherent, substantiated argument and to write clear and correct prose
  • 12. Through research for seminars, essays, and presentations demonstrate an advanced proficiency in information retrieval and analysis.
  • 13. Through research, seminar discussion, and essay writing demonstrate an advanced and intellectually mature capacity to question assumptions, to distinguish between fact and opinion, and to critically reflect on their own learning process.
  • 14. Through responses to constructive feedback, demonstrate an advanced and intellectually mature ability to reflect upon and strengthen written and other work.

Syllabus plan

1. Introduction: The Goths and the Classics

2. The Grand Tour

3. Graphic Satire in the Eighteenth Century: William Hogarth and James Gillray

4. Oliver Goldsmith and the Biblical Past

5. The Search for Origins

6. The Invention of Shakespeare

7. Questions of Forgery: Chatterton and Macpherson

8. The Gothic Past: The Castle of Otranto

9. Romantic Medievalism I: Tales and Romances

10. Classical, Orientalist, and Gothic Landscapes

11. Romantic Medievalism II: Radical Gothic

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 activities22seminars
Guided independent100reading, research and essay preparation
Guided independent178seminar preparation (independent)

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Abstract 500 words1-9, 12-14Feedback in seminars with opportunity for tutorial follow-up

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
Research Report 252500 words1-14 Feedback sheet with opportunity for tutorial follow-up
Essay755000 words1-9, 11-14 Feedback sheet with opportunity for tutorial follow-up

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Research reportResearch Report1-14Referral/deferral period
EssayEssay1-9, 11-14Referral/deferral period

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Core Reading

Oliver Goldsmith, The Vicar of Wakefield, ed. by Arthur Friedman and Robert L. Mack (Oxford, 2006)

Roger Lonsdale (ed.), The New Oxford Book of Eighteenth-Century Verse (Oxford, 1984)

Jerome C McGann (ed.), The New Oxford Book of Romantic period Verse (Oxford, 1993)

Horace Walpole, The Castle of Otranto, ed. by Michael Gamer (London, 2001)


Secondary Reading

Philip Ayres, Classical Culture and the Ideal of Rome in Eighteenth-Century England (Cambridge, 1997)

Clive Bloom, Gothic Histories: The Taste for Terror, 1764 to the Present (2010)

Thomas M. Curley, Samuel Johnson, The Ossian Fraud and the Celtic Revival in Great Britain and Ireland (Cambridge, 2009)

Damien Walford Davies (ed), Romanticism, History, Historicism: Essays on an Orthodoxy (Routledge, 2009)

Michael Dobson, The Making of the National Poet: Shakespeare, Adaptation and Authorship, 1660 1769 (Oxford, 1992)

Nick Groom, ed, Thomas Chatterton and Romantic Culture (OUP 1999)

Nick Groom (ed), Narratives of Forgery, Angelaki 1:2 (Winter 1993-94)

Nick Groom, The making of Percy's Reliques (Oxford, 1999)

Nick Groom, Romantic Poetry and Antiquity, in The Cambridge Companion to British Romantic Poetry, ed. James Chandler and Maureen McLane (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008), 35-52.

John Dixon Hunt, The Figure in the Landscape: Poetry, Painting, and Gardening during the Eighteenth Century (Baltimore, 1976).

Anne Janowitz, England's Ruins: Poetic Purpose and the National Landscape (Basil Blackwell, 1990)

Joseph Levine, The Battle of the Books: History and Literature in the Augustan Age (Chicago, 1991).

Rosemary Sweet, Antiquaries: The Discovery of the Past in Eighteenth-Century Britain (Hambledon and London, 2004)

James Watt, Contesting the Gothic: Fiction, Genre and Cultural Conflict 1764 1832 (CUP, 2006)

Howard Weinbrot, Britannia's Issue: The Rise of British Literature from Dryden to Ossian (Cambridge, 1993)

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Available as distance learning?


Last revision date

October 2011

Key words search

Eighteenth century, neoclassical, medievalism, gothic