18th-Century Literature



Zeit/Ort n.V.:

  • Di 10:15-11:45, Raum C 301


The culture of the 18th century is characterised by an intense affiliation of literature with philosophy, art, science and religion. Seen from an aesthetic point of view, the period reveals a fascinating tension, usually referred to as the Querelle des Anciens et des Modernes: on the one hand, the epoch strictly follows ancient examples of writing thus creating the spirit of 'neoclassicism'; on the other hand, it tries to get rid of ancient rules and prescriptions by introducing new genres and innovative ways of writing. In this introductory seminar we will try to focus on the most important ideas, notions, issues and theories of the 18th century by analysing literary examples from various genres: novel writing, essays, the drama, and poetry. We will study Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe (1719), selections from the most famous moral weeklies of the time, The Tatler (1709) and The Spectator (1711-1712; 1714), sections of Alexander Pope’s didactic poem An Essay on Man (1733-1734), and Oliver Goldsmith's comedy She Stoops to Conquer (1773).