ENGL 3207H Lecture Notes - Lecture 1: Rule, Britannia!

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2 Feb 2016
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ENGL-3207H January 11, 2016
The Age of (Colonial) Sensibility
The Eighteenth Century (Periodization)
Breaking the time period into manageable categories artificial thing
The Long Eighteenth Century: 1660-1835
1700-1745: The Augustan Age (or Age of Pope) Alexander Pope
Neoclassicism: Order; Balance; Reason (taking language and organizing it,
managing it)
1745-1785: The Age of Sensibility (or Age of Johnson) Samuel Johnson
Pre-Romantic: Imagination; Originality; Feeling
What is Sensibility?
Refined sensitivity to pleasurable or painful impressions
Elitist; Hierarchical
Susceptibility to particular kind and degrees of feeling; physiological (medical
idea, during the time when the nervous system was being observed)
Feminized
Exaggerated expression of emotions
Performance? artificial
Context for its Emergence
Second half if eighteenth century:
Trading companies (mercantilism)
Systems of commerce (big stock market crash), credit, tax collection
Military expansion
Colonial expansion
Slavery (3.4 million slaves transported from 1662-1807)
This Course
Why did sensibility hold sway while all this was happening?
The “turning inward of the sentimental mode” turning outward of the
empire” (Festa)
“in an era in which imperial reach increasingly outstripped imaginative grasp,
sentimental fiction created the tropes that enabled readers to reel the world home
in their minds”
sentimentality… became the literary mode of empire in the eighteenth
century
How?
Individual vs. Encounter between self and other
Bonds created around sympathy for excluded object
Creating a sense of community (ex. slavery)
When you are sympathizing with others you are excluding another object
Looking down on the object of sympathy (hierarchy)
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