T C 302 • Introduction to British Studies: Representing Britain, 1660-1832 - W
3:30 PM-5:00 PM
Of all of the European nation-states, Britain has exerted the strongest shaping influence on society in the United States of America. Yet citizens of the United States, and students at the University of Texas, can prove surprisingly ignorant of some of the basic facts about British history and society. What is the difference between Britain and England? How do Ireland, Scotland, and Wales figure into the picture? What is the United Kingdom, and when (if ever) did it unite? Do the British speak English? Can they be said to have a common culture? Did the American Revolution reject British political traditions, or embrace them? It is only a small relief to learn that the British themselves are far from clear on many of these questions, which remain to this day the subjects of lively debate.
In this course, we will take up these questions, studying the language, literature, art, and politics of Britain across what scholars call the "Early Modern" period: after the Renaissance but before the full flowering of the Industrial Revolution, or from about 1660 to 1830, which was also the period when Britain's North American settler colonies were taking hold. Our survey will center on questions of representation, a word that we will use in several senses. We will study how writers and artists represented, in the aesthetic sense, Britain and the world, and we will study how leaders came to be seen as representing, in the political sense, a broader public. We will analyze poetry and prose by Locke, Defoe, Pope, Goldsmith, Barbauld, Owenson, and Scott; pictures by Lely, Hogarth, Reynolds, Gainsborough, Romney, and Turner; and a variety of other artifacts from the period that saw the union of England with Scotland and Ireland, the turmoil of the Glorious Revolution, the Jacobite rebellions, and endless wars with France, the industrial revolution, and the establishment of Britains maritime empire.
By grappling with how works of literary and visual art represented their society, we will learn a great deal about early modern Britain, while mastering some basic terms and methods for the study of artistic representations. To help ground this new knowledge in the material history of the arts, we will visit various museums and archives around campus, among them the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center; the Blanton Museum of Art, especially its Prints and Drawings Cabinet; and the Perry-Casteneda Library.
This course contains a substantial writing component.
Requirements will include short "response" papers, student presentations, and quiz-like in-class writing assignments (30% of final grade); Two 5-page papers (10% each); a final exam (20%); and attendance and participation (30% taken together).
Shakespeare, King Lear
Hume, from The History of England (Charles I to Cromwell)
Cavendish, The Blazing World
Defoe, A Tour Around the Whole Isle of Great Britain
Macaulay, from The History of England (England in 1685)
Defoe, "The True-Born Englishman"
Goldsmith, The Deserted Village
Johnson and Boswell, Scottish travel narratives
Macpherson, Ossian poems
Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France
Wollstonecraft, The Vindications
Owenson, The Wild Irish Girl
About the Professor
Since joining the UT faculty in the fall of 2001, Samuel Baker has taught courses in British Romanticismcovering such authors as William Wordsworth, Walter Scott, and Jane Austenas well as seminars on landscape representation, travel writing, and the modern fortunes of the epic. In 2009 he is publishing his first book: Written on the Water: British Romanticism and the Maritime Empire of Culture. He is particularly interested in the relationship between literature and ethics and in media studies approaches to literary history.