LIT207 : Restoration and Eighteenth-Century Literature

Convenor(s): Dr Hamish Mathison


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

General Information

We’ll survey some of the most important Restoration and Eighteenth-Century authors and genres (from the astonishing epic poetry of Paradise Lost to the seminal epistolary novel Evelina, via the Restoration stage and new colonial writing). We’ll think about the issues of canonicity, periodicity and the evolution of specific modes and genres of writing (for example the ‘rise of the novel’) and relate our discussions to both the previous (Renaissance) and following (Romantic) literary eras. Examining a wide range of authors and genres, we ask big questions about how literary texts relate to the socio-economic, political and cultural conditions in which they were written, published and performed.


Lectures form an important part of the course and fall into two main types: some are designed principally to increase your contextual knowledge of the period, while others focus more on the reading of specific texts. The opening lecture also offers an overview of the whole period, while the final one offers some tips for the examination and anticipates next year’s modules on Romantic and Victorian poetry and prose. Seminars pick up on the ideas and themes raised in lectures, so it is important that you prepare for these thoroughly by doing the reading specified each week by your tutor. In addition there will be a MOLE2 site for the course, which will contain valuable primary and secondary resources, as well as important practical information. Training exercises will help you become an advanced user of electronic resources such as the OED, MLA Bibliography, EEBO and ECCO – all of which you can use throughout your undergraduate career.


There are two assessments on the course that test different skills: a mid-semester essay of 1,000 words (worth 30% of your overall grade) and a final closed-book exam (70%). The assessment deadlines are set centrally and will be available towards the start of semester. Lecturers and tutors will say more about the details: that final lecture in particular will give clear guidance on tackling the exam. In your first essay you will need to offer a close and contextualised reading of a passage from one of the period’s texts (supplied by your tutor) that we lecture on prior to the Easter vacation. The exam will be 3 hours long and will require you to answer two questions. The first focuses on the eighteenth-century material from the second half of the course (after Easter). The second question will be on a more general topic and will invite more of an overview of the period. The exam rubric requires you to address at least 3 works.

Contact Details

Dr Hamish Mathison

Information last changed: Thursday 07th of April 2016 :: 01:16:33 PM (BST)


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