Restoration and 18th Century Poetry: From Dryden to Wordsworth (Free Course)

Taught by William Flesch at Bran­deis Uni­ver­si­ty, this course offers a sur­vey of poet­ry that’s out of favor. But it turns out to be among the most skill­ful, bril­liant, wit­ty, invig­o­rat­ing, fun­ny, some­times dirty poet­ry ever writ­ten. (The dirty poet­ry is def­i­nite­ly NSFW. It may not even be safe for con­sent­ing adults.)  Cov­er­age goes from the urbane civic poet­ry of Dry­den and his con­tem­po­raries to the begin­nings of the intense sub­jec­tiv­i­ty of Roman­ti­cism, with atten­tion to the con­ti­nu­ities between these wild­ly dif­fer­ent schools. It’s help­ful to have a com­plete Pope and the Pen­guin Dry­den.  We also use the Oxford Anthol­o­gy of Eng­lish Lit­er­a­ture, ed. Mar­tin Price.

1) Intro­duc­tion: Poet­ic form and the resource­ful­ness it requires. Poet­ry about the real world, from pol­i­tics to sex. For exam­ple: Rochester and Wal­pole: Audio

2) Dry­den on Old­ham and Old­ham on Sodom. Dry­den’s scat­ol­ogy: Audio

3) Dry­den: Absa­lom and Achi­tophel. Anti­thet­i­cal style and hero­ic cou­plet: Audio

4) Dry­den: Absa­lom and Achi­tophel. Dry­den’s skep­ti­cism about per­fectibil­i­ty: Audio

5) Dry­den: Reli­gio Laici and poets’ claims to polit­i­cal and philo­soph­i­cal exper­tise: Audio

6) Dry­den: Con­clu­sion of dis­cus­sion of both Absa­lom and Achi­tophel and Reli­gio Laici: Audio

7) Dry­den’s Sub­tle­ty: Audio

8) Dry­den’s con­clu­sions: his late masques and essays; his prose and his digres­sive­ness: Audio

9) Rochester vs. Dry­den; Rochester’s skill and range: Audio

10) Rochester.  Def­i­nite­ly NSFW, but with con­sid­er­able psy­cho­log­i­cal acu­ity: Audio

11) Swift. Also NSFW. Swift’s scat­ol­ogy: Audio

12) Swift on him­self and on Stel­la and on his con­tem­po­raries: Audio

13) Pope. Intro­duc­tion and Essay on Crit­i­cism: Audio

14) Pope. Essay on Crit­i­cism, Eloisa to Abelard, Rape of the Lock: Audio

15) Pope and how poet­ry becomes top­i­cal.  Arbuth­not, Rape of the Lock: Audio

16) Pope’s Satires and To the Mem­o­ry of an Unfor­tu­nate Lady: Audio

17) Last Class on Pope: Dun­ci­ad: Audio

18) Doc­tor John­son as poet. His Pro­to-Roman­ti­cism: Audio

19) Thom­son and Collins as Pro­to-Roman­tics: Audio

20) Young, Gray, and the advent of Roman­ti­cism: Audio

21) Christo­pher Smart: Prayer and Praise: Audio

22) Gold­smith and Cow­per: Audio

23) Bar­bauld and Bail­lie: Audio

24) Burns, Blake, and per­spec­tives on inno­cence: Audio

25) Wordsworth and Coleridge in 1798: Audio

26) Last class, return to Pope’s Essay on Man, and ret­ro­spec­tive on course: Audio

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.