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ENGL476 A Topic in English Literature 1660-1800

Grub Street was first the actual - and later the mythical - address of hack writers; Samuel Johnson's Dictionary (1755), says of Grub Street: "originally the name of a street in Moorfields in London, much inhabited by writers of small histories, dictionaries, and temporary poems; whence any mean production is called grubstreet." The hardened, all-purpose writers - the first journalists - included many people of learning and wit, living at the centre of metropolitan political and cultural life, but subject to pressures unshared by novelists, poets or dramatists. Grub Street provides a vantage point from which to test assumptions about literary art and writerly versatility and to observe writers making the uncomfortable transition from dependence upon a patron to taking their chances in the professional marketplace.

Whilst a number of important writers - such as Defoe, Addison and Steele, Pope and Swift, Johnson and Boswell - will cross our paths, we will consider the works and careers of more minor figures, look at a wide range of genres, consider the contexts of publication and related paratextual issues and examine theoretical issues to do with writing (about) the Everyday. We will focus on the periodical essayists, but the material will vary from reviewing and pamphlet controversies to journalism proper.

As far as possible we will look at texts in their original contexts, as broadsides, pamphlets, newspapers and magazines. Students will be required to do independent research using material in the Library's Special Collections and the online Burney Collection Newspapers.

Paper title A Topic in English Literature 1660-1800
Paper code ENGL476
Subject English
EFTS 0.1667
Points 20 points
Teaching period Not offered in 2018, expected to be offered in 2020
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $1,098.05
International Tuition Fees (NZD) $4,352.87

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72 points from ENGL 311-368, EURO 302
Teaching staff
Convenor and Lecturer: Dr Paul Tankard
Teaching Arrangements
Weekly 2-hour seminar, until mid-second semester
Assessment: 65% internal, 35% external
Joseph Addison and Richard Steele, The Commerce of Everyday Life: Selections from "The Tatler" and "The Spectator", ed. Erin Mackie (Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's Press, 1998).*

Alexander Pope, Selected Poetry, ed. Pat Rogers (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press "World's Classics," 1994)

Jonathan Swift, The Tale of a Tub, and other Works, ed. Angus Ross and David Woolley (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press "World's Classics," 1986

Samuel Johnson, Selected Essays, ed. David Womersley (London: Penguin Classics, 2003)

Samuel Johnson, Dr. Johnson's Dictionary: A Selection, ed. Jack Lynch (London: Atlantic Books, 2004). N.B. Alternative edition: Johnson's Dictionary: An Anthology, ed. David Crystal (London: Penguin Books "Penguin Classics," 2005).*

* may only be available second-hand
Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Interdisciplinary perspective, Lifelong learning, Scholarship, Communication, Critical thinking, Information literacy, Research, Self-motivation.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes
  • To understand in outline the literary history of 18th-century Britain
  • To appreciate the instability of our sense of literary genre
  • To effectively research in online 18th-century newspapers
  • To select and prepare a number of ephemeral texts for a contemporary readership and practise annotative skill
  • To read and critically appreciate a variety of complex texts by major writers
  • To write coherently and critically about literature

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Not offered in 2018, expected to be offered in 2020

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system