E s379M • Landscape and Eighteenth-Century Literature
The English garden of the eighteenth century was politically relevant, socially contentious, and ethically charged. The garden settings found in the literature of the period, therefore, must be read with an eye on the contemporary meanings attached to various forms of landscape architecture. This class combines close reading of Alexander Popes poems Epistle to Burlington (1731) and Epistle to Arbuthnot (1735) with visits to the classic gardens of Rousham House designed by William Kent in the 1730s and to Lord Burlingtons Chiswick villa and its palladian gardens. Next, our reading of Frances Burneys novel Evelina (1778) will be enlivened and contextualized by visits to some of the so-called pleasure gardens of London, public parks which for the eighteenth-century reader embodied the dangers of social mingling and the temptations of urban living. Burneys heroine visits, among other tantalizing public venues, St. Jamess Park, Vauxhall, and Marylebone Gardens. We will juxtapose these loca amoena of London with the ribald garden, as embodied by Sir Francis Dashwoods estate West Wycomb where an erotic garden and its Temple to Venus reflect the designers rakish creed. We will round out our exploration of the landscape of the long eighteenth century with Jane Austens Pride and Prejudice (1813) and Mansfield Park (1816), novels featuring the mature Brownian landscapes of the late-century country estate. In imitation of some of the characters in these novels, we will tour the gardens of Blenheim, Stowe, Stourhead, Painshill, andtime allowingChatsworth. Throughout the term we will make liberal use of the collections of estate portraits and landscape paintings in the National and Tate Galleries, London, and the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. With many 18th-century gardens still extant in Oxfords environs, we will spend as much time as possible outdoors. It is therefore recommended that students familiarize themselves with the three novels prior to the program.
Journal/weekly reports 40%
2 essays 40%