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Martin Kevorkian, Chair CAL 226, Mailcode B5000, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-4991

Fall 2008


Unique Days Time Location Instructor
35740 MW
2:00 PM-3:30 PM
CAL 323

Course Description

Perspectives on 'Human Nature': Swift, Hume, Fielding, and Gibbon This class will place major works of eighteenth-century prose in conversation with one another. Each a masterpiece in its own genre - satire (Gullivers Travels), philosophy (A Treatise of Human Nature), novel (Tom Jones), and history (The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire), these works also converge in various ways and variously take human nature as their announced subject. What do these works have to say to one another? How, for example, might Gibbons claim to be a philosophic historian be correlated with the empirical philosophy of David Hume? how does his History of the Roman Empire share generic conventions with Fieldings History of Tom Jones? how is his satire different from Swifts? Questions such as these will drive discussion toward understanding of the eighteenth century and appreciation of its most characteristic concerns. The reading list is short but ambitious; the writing assignments will just be short, aimed at articulating claims about these major works that might be developed into full scale arguments at some later time.


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