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ENGL476 A Topic in English Literature 1660-1800

The eighteenth century in Britain is a hard period to characterise.  Europe was still living with the aftershocks of the renaissance and reformation, the cultural transformations that ended the very different medieval world, and was on the verge of the industrial revolution, when the world becomes recognisably modern.  Negotiating this boundary in their lives and writings are the two contrasting figures of the English literary titan and powerful representative of the tradition, Samuel Johnson, and his biographer and much younger friend, the proto-romantic Scot, James Boswell.  London is Europe’s greatest metropolis and alive with booksellers and coffee shops, catering for an unprecedented demand for knowledge, literature, and news.  These few volumes and two writers will introduce students to fascinating and important works across a range of genres, published 1735-91, including poetry, criticism, lexicography, biography, travel, fiction, journalism, letters, political writing, periodical essays, and private journals.

Paper title A Topic in English Literature 1660-1800
Paper code ENGL476
Subject English
EFTS 0.1667
Points 20 points
Teaching period Full Year
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $1,120.06
International Tuition Fees (NZD) $4,439.89

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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
  • Boswell, James, The Life of Samuel Johnson, ed. R. W. Chapman (Oxford World’s Classics)
  • Boswell, James, London Journal, 1762-1763, ed. Gordon Turnbull (Penguin Classics)
  • Boswell, James, Facts and Inventions, ed. Paul Tankard (Yale U.P.) - extracts supplied
  • Johnson, Samuel, The Major Works, ed. Donald Greene (Oxford)
  • Johnson, Samuel, A Dictionary of the English Language, ed. Jack Lynch
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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Full Year

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
L1 Wednesday 14:00-15:50 9-16, 18-22
M1 Wednesday 14:00-15:50 28-34, 41