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ENGL312 Literature in the Age of Invention

A study of major innovations in prose, drama, and verse between 1660 and 1800, particularly the rise of the novel, in relation to colonial expansion and emerging industrialisation.

Between 1660 and 1800 England became Great Britain, imported fabric and porcelain from around the globe, developed an addiction to tea and coffee and invented modern finance, gas lighting and steam power.

In this paper we will examine how the literature of the period represents and is shaped by all these changes. We will examine how poetry, prose and drama of the period reflect these changes, and students will be asked to "read" a text published before 1800 with an awareness of these concerns. The course reader will provide a few key secondary resources, but most of our insights will result from attention to the literary voices of the period.

Paper title Literature in the Age of Invention
Paper code ENGL312
Subject English
EFTS 0.15
Points 18 points
Teaching period Semester 1 (On campus)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $955.05
International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.

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18 200-level ENGL points
Schedule C
Arts and Music
Students who have not passed the normal prerequisite may be admitted with approval from the Head of Department.
Teaching staff

Convenor: Associate Professor Shef Rogers

Paper Structure
This paper offers a chronological survey of literary developments from 1660-1800, connecting those developments with parallel historical and technological developments.
Teaching Arrangements
We meet three times per week, with the third session each week devoted to more interactive content. Students must research individual projects and present their findings to the class as part of connecting literary works to other inventions. The class is 60% internally assessed, with a two-hour exam worth 40%.

  • Defoe, Daniel, A Journal of the Plague Year (any edition)
  • Swift, Jonathan, Gulliver's Travels (any edition)
  • Sheridan, Richard Brinsley, The Rivals (any edition)
  • Burney, Frances, Evelina (any edition)
  • Selected literary works (poetry, a Restoration play and shorter prose pieces)
  • Critical essays in the Course Reader (available as links and PDF files on Blackboard)

Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Global perspective, Critical thinking, Research.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes
Students who complete ENGL 312 successfully will:
  • Gain a familiarity with the literary styles and concerns of restoration and 18th-century British literature
  • Be able to conduct research using original literary works, newspapers and periodicals of the period
  • Gain experience in presenting scholarly research to a general audience
  • Expand their vocabulary and compile a selection of thematic insights from the period as part of preparing their commonplace book
  • Be able to connect literary history with a larger history of the period that established the basis of many modern institutions and ways of understanding the world

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Semester 1

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Tuesday 12:00-12:50 9-14, 16, 18-22
Wednesday 12:00-12:50 9-13, 16-22
Thursday 12:00-12:50 9-14, 16-22