Level of study Third/Final year
Credit value 20
Pre-requisite modules You must have completed at least two years of appropriate study in this discipline.
Other pre-requisites For this specialist module, you should already be familiar with the language and style of couplet verse of the early eighteenth century as composed by
The module explores the notions of gossip, scandal and celebrity in relation to literature of the early eighteenth century. It asks: How did authors and publishers exploit readers' interest in supposedly secret aspects of the lives of the famous? How did published and unpublished writings depict royalty, aristocracy and the very wealthy? What did it take to become famous in the print world of the time? What different kinds of writing engaged in gossip, scandal and cults of celebrity? What distinctive ways of being insulting to public figures did print evolve in this period? What kinds of pleasures did these writings offer their readers (and writers)?
Topics will range over: scandals in the royal family; ephemeral pamphlets, satires and hoaxes; and literary quarrels. These will be explored through a variety of kinds of writing, ranging from mock-epic poetry, through discursive pamphlets, to verse lampoons and other forms of insult, including work by well-known writers such as Swift and Pope (e.g. Tale of a Tub, Battle of the Books, The Dunciad in Four Books), as well as an opportunity to explore work by authors whose efforts have not always been so favoured by posterity (e.g. Richard Bentley, Lewis Theobald, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, Lord Hervey, Colley Cibber; and not forgetting the notorious bookseller Edmund Curll). Using the electronic resources available (particularly ECCO), we shall go into some less familiar (and often less polite) areas of eighteenth-century writing, and use these to form a more balanced perspective on the period.