LIT2004 : Satire and Print

Convener(s): Dr Hamish Mathison


Please note: This module may or may not run in any given semester. Please check with the tutor.

General Information

This course captures the filth, fun and exuberance of a period when, amidst political, religious and cultural ferment, new ideas about literature’s role in the wider world emerged. By the end of the course you should have acquired a critical understanding of the genre of satire; the social and cultural contexts in which these writings worked; the features of the contemporary world that are targeted in popular and satirical writing. The period considered is the first half of the 'long' eighteenth century: roughly 1688-1745.


Seminars occur in the department twice a week and each lasts for 50 minutes. They are your opportunity to share your ideas and discuss them with other students and with me. Mini lectures and group discussions will form the basis of the first half of the semester's teaching. I also offer research training on databases that’ll help you on this, and other, modules. The second half of the semester is spent preparing for, delivering and discussing your group presentations (see below). By the end of the course you should know how satirical and popular texts written and published during the period engaged with and challenged the cultural and moral standards of their time; how to associate particular issues with particular modes of satirical writing (for example, how polite manners were represented in periodicals, scurrilous personal abuse in squibs, ballads and newspapers and so forth); how the publishing history of literature can affect its content (for example, the impact of 'grub street' on contemporary writing habits); how literature in England began to become a commercial activity rather than the preserve of an educated elite; the importance of copyright laws and trade guilds in shaping the history of popular print's rise. The course will map-on nicely to LIT207, by the way.


There are two forms of assessment: a group presentation delivered in the course of the semester, the other a (c. 2000 word) end-of-semester essay. The group presentation contains an element of peer-review, and will be fully supported by me, with tutor meetings before the presentation, and a full debriefing afterwards. It is worth 40% of the module grade. You can use elements of your group project research in your essay (60%). The aim is to encourage independent study and allow you to pursue and reflect upon your own interests within the topic to a greater extent. I will go over this thoroughly with you, anyway, when we start.

Contact Details

Dr Hamish Mathison

Information last changed: Thursday 07th of April 2016 :: 01:16:35 PM (BST)

Please note: This module may or may not run in any individual session. Please check with the course convener.


The University of Sheffield, Western Bank, Sheffield, S10 2TN, UK