Science and/as Literature in Early Modern England|
Spring 2016 not offered
Seventeenth- and 18th-century England saw the development and popularization of the "new science." Microscopes, telescopes, airpumps, automata, and experiments captured the popular imagination. The first important scientific societies and journals were founded, and the public learned about new discoveries through sermons and coffeehouse lectures. This course will trace the literary reaction to these cultural changes. A female natural philosopher wrote utopian science fiction, and Jonathan Swift satirically skewered mathematicians and experimenters. While the best of early 18th-century nature poetry takes Newton quite seriously as it depicts the way light glimmers off objects, by the century's end, William Blake villainized Newtonian thought as reductive and deadening. We will try to understand what writers found exhilarating, scary, confusing, hilarious, or important about science at this key moment of its development. At the same time, we will read this science as literature--considering, say, Francis Bacon's symbolically fraught "idols" and Robert Boyle's "literary technology," the role of poetry in spreading scientific ideas, and the importance of analogy and metaphor to the very logics that structured scientific thought. The disciplines of science and literature were not as cleanly separated in this period as they are now, and we can better understand both by exploring their intersections.
||Gen Ed Area Dept:
|Course Format: Lecture / Discussion||Grading Mode: Graded|
||Fulfills a Major Requirement for: (ENGL)(ENGL-Literature)(SISP)(SISP-ScieDblMjr)
Robert Hooke, MICROGRAPHIA
John Locke, ESSAY CONCERNING HUMAN UNDERSTANDING
Margaret Cavendish, BLAZING WORLD
Thomas Shadwell, THE VIRTUOSO
Susanna Centlivre, THE BASSET TABLE
Jonathan Swift, BATTLE OF THE BOOKS
James Thomson, THE SEASONS
Mary Shelley, FRANKENSTEIN
Poetry and prose by Robert Boyle, John Wilmot, Daniel Defoe, Eliza Haywood, Isaac Newton, James Thomson, James Graingar, and William Blake.
|Examinations and Assignments: |
Three short papers; a presentation; midterm and final exams.
|Additional Requirements and/or Comments: |
This course fulfills the Literary History II major requirement and contributes to the British Lit concentration requirement of the English major.
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