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Breaking News for EH 349

John Tatter
Professor of English

6 May: Please note the following changes in your course requirements:
  1. You may opt either to take the final examination or to use the grades on your two shorter papers to count instead. This option will count as 30% of your grade.
  2. Your lab notebook will now count as 30% of your grade, and you will get full credit for each entry submitted. Missing or totally inappropriate entries only will affect this part of the grade.
  3. Your major project will now also count as 30% of your grade.
  4. Your class participation--that is, your questions and contributions during class discussion--will continue to count as 10% of your grade.

2 March: For your take-home essay, due Monday 7 March, address the following topic and submit a hard-copy response. Evaluate the pastorals of Spenser, Pope, Gay, Burns, and Wordsworth according to the criteria articulated by Samuel Johnson in his Rambler essay. In particular, note the aspects of each writer that both accord and do not accord with Johnson’s criteria, and arrange your discussion of the writers in such a way as to make a point. You may consider these writers in terms of strengths and weaknesses, but you should remember that Johnson’s definition of the pastoral differs from Pope’s, for example, and is therefore his opinion, not “truth.”

18 February: As you prepare to tour the art museum on Monday (and, I hope, on subsequent days) please keep in mind that the different arts were not all on the same schedule during the 18th and 19th centuries. The dates of the visual art works you see may not correspond exactly to the dates of the verbal arts you are studying. The trends, however, are similar, and you should note these. Read and take notes on the introductory material as you enter each gallery room. They will tell you in greater detail what I am about to say below. Take notes on individual pieces of art as well, and ask yourself the following questions. How is nature used or treated differently in the variety of paintings (think of emphasis and space)? How is classical mythology used or treated in the variety of paintings? What does the art tell you about the buyers of art -- how did they wish to see themselves, what were their values?

Baroque: the style of art and architecture that grew out of the classical style -- related to the Renaissance artistic "rebirth" after a period of "dark ages." Note its optimism: joy and sensuality. Note also its irregularity: the word comes from the term for an irregular pearl. As you look ahead to Dryden's All For Love, think of Egypt.

Rococo: the lighter, more more playful, more fantastical style of art that grew in response to the richness and heaviness of the baroque. Note its focus on upper-class life (for example, the idealized shepherds by Fragonard and the two paintings of proper and improper kisses). Note also the growing interest in the Far East -- the exploration of Asia and its cultures.

Neo-Classical: the style that represents a pendulum swing away from both the lightness of the rococo and the richness of the baroque in that it emphasizes order and decorum. Note its rationality and morality. As you look ahead to Dryden's All For Love, think of Rome.

Romantic: the style that represents a change in the emphasis of the artist, not so much the subject matter anymore as the perspective of the viewer -- not so much the object in view anymore as the play of light on that object.

John D. Tatter, Birmingham-Southern College,