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EH 349 Literature and the Arts
Spring 2005
MWF 10:40-11:40
Humanities Center 303


This course is designed as one of several offered by the English faculty in the category of breadth. In this particular course we examine the connections among the sister arts of literature, painting, architecture, and landscape gardening during the period of British history often referred to as "The Enlightenment," roughly the period between 1660 and 1800. The reading and writing assignments focus on the cultural values and aesthetic theories that shaped all of the art forms in Britain during the period, and they trace the movement from neo-classicism to romanticism.

One major goal of this course is to reaffirm the inter-disciplinary nature of the liberal arts. Another is to encourage you to evaluate critically the roots of your own cultural and aesthetic values. Rather than promoting one set of values, classroom discussion and reading and writing assignments will examine the relative merits of, for example, conformity and individualism, formality and organicism, simplicity and complexity, or traditionalism and originality. You should expect to learn actively rather than passively, to develop and articulate your own perspectives in written and oral exercises.


Harris, ed. Restoration Plays
Tatter, ed. Nature and Landscape


The final grade is the average of the grades on the following:
1) the shorter essays (2 @ 15% = 30%);
2) the major project (20%);
3) the laboratory notebook (20%);
4) the final examination (20%); and
5) class participation (10%).


Attendance in body and spirit is mandatory. As in the world of work, you are allowed a limited number of sick days (2) and personal days (2); after that, each absence will reduce your final course grade by a letter grade.

Class attendance is no substitute for doing the assigned reading. Come to class prepared to discuss the literature and the criticism you read every week. In addition, remember that classroom experiences cannot be replicated, so assume that you cannot make up what you miss if you are absent. I believe enough in the importance of your class participation that I assign 10% of your grade to it.

All papers are due at the beginning of the class period on the due date. Laboratory notebooks are due at the beginning of class the on the class day following the laboratory session. I will not accept late work unless you and I have made prior arrangements. All written assignments must adhere to proper MLA manuscript form or run the risk of severe penalties. For details of that form, see your handbook. For other rules and regulations, follow this link to my web page on "Deadly Manuscript Sins."


The shorter papers (1200 words each) will require you to apply the theories of nature poetry to one or more of the reading assignments. In the first of these you will show how the pastoral poems of Pope, Gay, Burns, and Wordsworth fit or do not fit the definition of pastorals provided by Samuel Johnson in his Rambler essay. In the second paper you will contrast the portrayal and use of nature in two poems, one by Wordsworth and the other by either Jonson, Denham, or Pope.

The major project, a documented research paper of at least 3000 words, draws distinct parallels between one of the poems or plays we have read and and a work or series of works from another art form. Appropriate critical material must be included in the paper.

The laboratory notebook serves as a place to record your required responses to material I present to you on painting and landscape gardening as well as your laboratory exercises. Please see the list of laboratory topics and assignments below.

Laboratory Topics and Exercises

Those of you who have completed one or more courses in a laboratory science should be familiar with how the laboratory experience enhances the lecture experience. One way of defining the relationship between the two is to see one as theory and the other as practice. Another way is to see one as primarily passive learning and the other as active. The two perspectives are, I believe, complementary parts of the learning experience.

An essential part of the laboratory experience is keeping a laboratory notebook. When I took a series of chemistry classes in college I had to keep a notebook that, for each experiment, detailed the materials I used, the procedure I followed, the calculations I made, and the explanations I offered for why things happened or, more often, didn't happen as they were supposed to. Your notebook will have a somewhat different emphasis than mine, but it will have the same purpose -- to account for the what, how, and why of your laboratory experience in an effort to connect the "laboratory" material with the "lecture" material, to connect literature and the arts. Your notebook will be electronic rather than the typical bound composition book, and each entry is due as a Word document in an e-mail attachment to me within 48 hours of each laboratory experience. The list below provides the topic and assignment of each laboratory session.

Session One: February 21: Birmingham Museum of Art
We will tour the collection of 18th-century painting, sculpture, furniture, and Wedgewood china, and you will make notes on what you see as well as write at least 500 words on what you found most significant and why.

Session Two: March 4: Slide Lecture on Painting
As a follow-up to our discussions of the two plays, I will show you a series of slides of paintings by Hogarth, Watteau, Boucher, and Fragonard to offer a view from the artist's perspective of how members of the upper classes wished (or perhaps did not wish) to be seen. You will write at least 500 words on what you found most significant and why.

Session Three: March 18: Slide Lecture on Wordsworth Country
As a follow-up to our discussions of Wordsworth's poems, I will show you a series of slides of Tintern Abbey and the Lake District to give you a visual sense of the landscape Wordsworth described in his poems. Using Wordsworth as your model and making specific references to his poems, you will write at least 500 words on a place that has special meaning to you.

Session Four: April 4: Slide Lecture on Painting
As a follow-up to our discussion of Reynolds's Discourses, I will show you a series of slides of paintings in the "grand style" by Lorrain, Poussin, David, and Reynolds himself. You will write at least 500 words on how an event of your choice in history, mythology, or religious tradition might be depicted in the "grand style" and why.

Session Five: April 25: Virtual Stowe Tour
As a follow-up to our discussion of Pope's Epistle to Burlington and other essays, you and your partner will tour parts of the landscape garden at Stowe via my Web site. You will write at least 500 words on what you found most significant and why.

Session Six: May 4: Slide Lecture on Painting
As a follow-up to our discussions of the concept of the picturesque as presented by Walpole, Price, Knight, Warton, and Wordsworth, I will show you a series of slides by Constable and Turner that depict the English landscape in ways far more romantic than neo-classical. You will write at least 500 words on how a particular painting by Constable or Turner fits the concept of the picturesque as it is presented by Price and Knight.

Session Seven: May 6: Postcards and Picturesque Drawings
Having purchased a postcard over Spring Break, having copied the shapes in the postcard into a drawing in your notebook, and having commented on the composition in your notebook (at least 500 words), you will spend this lab session discussing principles of picturesque composition with your classmates. Your discussion will also include the following. Over the previous two weeks you will have evaluated the campus or some other place for its picturesque qualities, chosen a point of view, and attempted a drawing from life, paying particular attention to the composition and commenting on it afterwards (at least 500 words). During this lab session, you will share the results of your work with your classmates and discuss its theory and execution.

Course Schedule

2/4 Introduction to the course

2/7 Background material
2/9 Pope: Essay on Criticism
2/11 Pope: "Discourse on Pastoral Poetry," The Pastorals

2/14 Spenser: Shepheardes Calender; Gay: Shepherd's Week
2/16 Wordsworth: Preface to Lyrical Balllads, "Michael"
2/18 Burns: poems; Johnson: Rambler #37

2/21 Lab Session: Birmingham Museum of Art
2/23 Dryden: All For Love
2/25 Dryden: All For Love

2/28 Wycherley: The Country Wife
3/2 Wycherley: The Country Wife
3/4 Lab Session: Painting: social life and satire

3/7 Jonson: "To Penshurst"; Denham: "Cooper's Hill" First Paper due
3/9 Pope: "Windsor Forest"
3/11 Marvell: "The Garden"; Dyer: "Grongar Hill"; Gray: "Elegy"

3/14 Thomson: from The Seasons
3/16 Wordsworth: from The Prelude and "Tintern Abbey"
3/18 Lab Session: Landscape: Tintern and the Lakes

3/21 Addison: Spectator essays
3/23 Hogarth: Analysis; Burke: Philosophical Enquiry


4/4 Lab Session: Painting: The Grand Style; Reynolds: Discourses
4/6 Bacon: "Of Gardens"; Marvell: "The Mower against Gardens"
4/8 Pope: Guardian #173; Shenstone: "Unconnected Thoughts on Gardening"

4/11 Pope: "Epistle to Burlington" Second Paper due
4/13 Pope: "Epistle to Burlington"
4/15 Registration for Fall Term -- no class

4/18 Goldsmith: "The Deserted Village"
4/20 Crabbe: "The Village"
4/22 Walpole: "The History of the Modern Taste in Gardening"; Gilpin: "On Parks"

4/25 Lab Session: Landscape Gardening: Stowe
4/27 Price: "An Essay on the Picturesque"; Knight: "Analytical Enquiry..."
4/29 Warton: "The Enthusiast"; Gray: "The Bard"

5/2 Gilpin: "On Picturesque Travel"; Wordsworth: "On the Sublime and the Beautiful"
5/4 Lab Session: Painting: Romantic landscapes
5/6 Lab Session: Postcards and Picturesque Drawings

5/9 Major Project due
5/11 Review for the Final Examination

5/18 [Wednesday] Final Examination 9:00 a.m.--noon

John D. Tatter, Birmingham-Southern College,