E s379M • Last Resorts in Eighteenth-Century Fiction (Oxford)
This course is restricted to students enrolled in the Oxford Summer Program.
"Resorts" could be many things in the 18th century: undesirable places to which people were driven in need, highly desirable places visited for pleasure, or curious zones in between. In this course, we'll read three novels written between 1720 and 1820 in order to get a fuller sense of what "resorts" were in the 18th century and how writers of fiction made use of them. Defoe's Moll Flanders, Smollett's Humphry Clinker, and Austen's Persuasion all present characters who visit particular locales for amusement or in a state of desperation--to recruit health or wealth or reputation. In each case the locale also serves as a device for narrative transition, a place in which the author can produce changes in character or plot that might be difficult to provoke in other settings. The course will, in other words, provide a chance to consider how the idea of the resort changes over the course of the 18th century and to examine what counts as narrative desperation for characters in the era's fiction. To amplify our reading, we will visit several sites that served as resorts of different kinds in the 1700s, including a number of locations in London (such as the former site of the Mint--a "no-arrest" zone for debtors--and Newgate Prison, as well as the Tower of London); Bath (one of the most famous of 18th-century resorts, and still a popular vacation destination); Bristol (for its Hot Well and other entertainments); and ocean-side Lyme Regis.
Weekly journals (50%)
Final presentation (20%)
Final paper, 5-7 pages (20%)
Attendance and participation (10%)
Jane Austen, Persuasion
Tobias Smollett, Humphry Clinker
Daniel Defoe, Moll Flanders