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ERIC Number: EJ1162083
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2017
Pages: 28
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0007-8034
"This Is London, How D'ye Like It?": Teaching the Streets in Eighteenth-Century London
McGraw, Ken
CEA Forum, v46 n1 p1-28 Win-Spr 2017
As a professor of eighteenth-century British Literature I am often tasked (like my colleagues in other areas) with constructing a period based syllabus that "represents" this portion of literary history. Every semester, without fail, I am befuddled by the word "represents." How, exactly, do I want to "represent" the long eighteenth-century to students who are likely experiencing this rich era for the first time and, perhaps, will never experience it again? Do I employ what some may call a conservative approach with a chronological and canonical syllabus that includes the "best" of eighteenth-century authors? If I do, who are these "best" authors? Do I include as much as possible from Rochester to Austen (themselves a contradiction of epic proportions)? Instead, is it effective to organize the course around genre? Thus, a whole course devoted to the rise of the novel. If I choose this, how many novels can I expect upper-division students to read in fourteen weeks? How long will it take them to muddle their way through Tristram Shandy and Pamela? Or, instead, should it be thematically based? Perhaps a class organized around the formation of a literary marketplace? The effects of provincial presses? Changes in sexual mores? A class devoted to the rise of the middle class? Or, instead, maybe an entire class devoted to Grub Street hacks? These are only a few questions that plague me as I stumble my way through a syllabus that will inevitably be revised. These struggles, however, have led to interesting syllabi that provide the students with a rich and diversified approach to the eighteenth century. I have recently taught an author studies course devoted solely to Eliza Haywood, a special topics course devoted to changes in sexuality following the great fire, and an eighteenth-century course devoted to the rise of the female novelist. However, while these classes have been fun and, in my estimation, quite successful there are certainly drawbacks to teaching "street-level" content in an eighteenth-century course. One of the main concerns is that of content. Do I disservice the students and the period by not including authors such as Pope and Swift. Do I provide the students with a skewed (negative) view of Pope when only including the portion of his Dunciad that berates Eliza Haywood? Is it effective to teach something like Rochester's Sodom? Cleland's Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure? In the end, this essay explores and questions the efficacy of "street-level" content on the construction and implementation of effective syllabi in courses devoted to eighteenth-century British Literature.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: United Kingdom
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A