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The Sublime

Poetics and Politics of the Aesthetic in the Long 18th Century
and Beyond

Professor
J. Jennifer Jones

Overview
Schedule
Assignments
Student Writing

January 24: Introduction to Course

– Erich Auerbach, “Odysseus’ Scar” from Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Culture. Trans. Willard R. Trask. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1968.

– Homer, "Book 19." The Odyssey. Trans. Robert Fagles. Intro. and Notes by Bernard Knox. New York: Penguin, 1999.

Genesis 22. The New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical Books. Ed. Michael D. Coogan. 3rd Ed. New Rev. Standard Version. New York: Oxford UP, 2001.

* * Unit 1: Rising Up with the Republic * *

January 31: The Re-emergence of the Sublime in the English Republic: John Hall and Translation

“somewhat Ethereal, somewhat above man, much of a soul separate” | “you seem to behold yourself the very thing you are describing”

– Longinus. On the Sublime. First Century Greek text edited by D.A. Russell. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1964. **

– Neil Hertz, “A Reading of Longinus” from The End of the Line: Essays on Psychoanalysis and the Sublime. New York: Columbia UP, 1985. 1-20 [Electronic Reserve]

– Suzanne Guerlac, “Longinus and the Subject of the Sublime." New Literary History. Special Issue: "The Sublime and the Beautiful: Reconsiderations." 16.2 (1985): 275-289. [JSTOR online]

– Jonathan Lamb, “Longinus, the Dialectic, and the Practice of Mastery." ELH. 60.3 (1993): 545-567. [JSTOR online]

Notes: Literary Interpretation and the Twentieth Century

Suggested Readings

Note: Note: John Hall's republican-era translation of Longinus' treatise is the first-known English translation of the text. Welsted’s translation, and Smith's after that, were influential in the English discourse of the sublime in the eighteenth century, being available to, among others, Edmund Burke.

Peri Hupsous, or Dionysius Longinus of the Height of Eloquence. Rendered out of the Originall. Trans. John Hall. London: Printed by Roger Daniel for Francis Eaglesfield at the Marygold in Paul's Church-Yard, 1652. [Library Reserve]

The Works of Dionysius Longinus, On the Sublime: or, A Treatise Concerning the Sovereign Perfection of Writing. Translated from the Greek. With Some Remarks on the English Poets. London: Mr. Welsted, 1712. [Library Reserve]

Dionysius Longinus on the Sublime. Translated from the Greek, with Notes and Observations, And Some Accounts of the Life, Writings and Character of the Author. By William Smith. Printed by J. Watts: And sold by W. Innys and R. Manby at the West-End of St. Paul's. London, 1739. [Library Reserve]

February 7: Situating Sublimity in Post-Renaissance England: Rising Up with English Republicanism

“They swim in mirth, and fancy that they feel / Divinity within them breeding wings / Wherewith to scorn the earth”

– John Milton, Paradise Lost (1667)
Note: I strongly encourage you to read the entire poem, but our focus will be on Books I, IV, IX, and XII. **

– Christopher Hill. "Paradise Lost." from Milton and the English Revolution. New York: Viking, 1979. 354-413 [Electronic Reserve]

– David Norbrook, "Paradise Lost and English Republicanism." from Writing the English Republic: Poetry, Rhetoric, and Politics, 1627-1660. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1999. 433-495 [Electronic Reserve]

Notes: Three Ages of Revolution Timeline

February 14: The Abyss of Reason: Skepticism and the Sublime

“So pale grows Reason . . . So dyes, and so dissolves . . .” | “Why am I trusted with myself at large?”

– John Dryden, To My Honored Friend, Sir Robert Howard (1660) and To My Honor’d Friend, Dr. Charleton (1663) [Online Reserve]; The State of Innocence and Fall of Man and its Preface, “The Authors Apology for Heroique Poetry; and Poetic License” (1677) [Library Reserve]

– Nicolas Boileau-Despréaux, “Eighth Satire.” (1666-1673) from The Satires of Boileau, Translated, With Some Account of That Poet’s Life and Writings. London: C. And R. Baldwin, 1808. [Electronic Reserve]

– John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester. "A Satyre Against Reason and Mankind." (1675) from The Norton Anthology of English Literature. Eighth Edition. Vol. C “The Restoration and the Eighteenth Century.” Eds. Lawrence Lipking and James Noggle. New York: Norton, 2006. 2172-2177 [Electronic Reserve]

– William Molyneux, "Preface" to the first English translation of René Descartes’ Meditations. from Six Metaphysical Meditations; Wherein It Is Proved That There Is a God. And That Man's Mind Is Really Distinct From His Body. London: B.G. for Benjamin Tooke, 1680. [Electronic Reserve]

– René Descartes. Meditationes de prima philosophia / Meditations on First Philosophy. (1640) Trans. George Heffernan. A Bilingual Edition. Notre Dame: U of Notre Dame P, 1990. **
Note: I encourage you to read the whole of Descartes’ Meditations, but we will be focusing on “Meditation II.”

Suggested Reading:

Susan W. Tiefenbrun, "Boileau and His Friendly Enemy: A Poetics of Satiric Criticism," MLN 91.4 (1976): 672-297. [JSTOR online]

* * Unit 2: Rising and Falling in Neo-Classical Aesthetics * *

February 21: Popularizing Longinian Aesthetics: Pleasure, Wonder, Enthusiasm, and the Harmonizing of Disorder:

“when once the Imagination is so inflam’d, as to get the better of the Understanding, there is no Difference between the Images, and the Things themselves”

– “Notes and Observations, And Some Accounts of the Life, Writings and Character of the Author [Longinus].” By William Smith. Printed by J. Watts: And sold by W. Innys and R. Manby at the West-End of St. Paul's. London, 1739. [Library Reserve: at the front of the Smith translation]

– John Dennis, "The Advancement and Reformation of Modern Poetry" (1701) [Electronic Reserve] and "The Grounds of Criticism in Poetry" (1704) [Library Reserve] both from The Critical Works of John Dennis. Ed. Edward Niles Hooker. 2 vol. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins UP, 1939.

– Anthony Ashley Cooper, Third Earl of Shaftesbury, "Letter Concerning Enthusiasm." from Characteristics of men, manners, opinions, times. Ed. Lawrence E. Klein. New York: Cambridge UP, 1999. 1-28 [Electronic Reserve]

– Joseph Addison, “Pleasures of the Imagination” [ from The Spectator]. The Works of Joseph Addison. Ed. George Washington Green. 6 Vol. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott, 1883. Vol. 6: 322-373 [Electronic Reserve]

Suggested Reading:

John Mee, "Mopping Up Spilt Religion: The Problem of Enthusiasm." Romanticism on the Net. 25 (2002): 40 pars. <http://users.ox.ac.uk/~scat0385/25mee.html>

February 28: Post-1688 and the Poetics of Irony: The Anti-Sublime? (I)

“the first Proselyte he makes, is Himself, and when that is once compass’d, the Difficulty is not so great in bringing over others; A strong Delusion always operating from without, as vigorously as from within”

– Jonathan Swift, A Tale of a Tub (1704 with “Apology” of 1710); from The Examiner (1710 ff) [Library Reserve] [Editor's Footnotes]

– J. T. Parnell, “Swift, Sterne, and the Skeptical Tradition” (1994) [Electronic Reserve]

– Slavoj Žižek, Part I ("How Did Marx Invent the Symptom?" and "From Symptom to Sinthome") from The Sublime Object of Ideology. London: Verso, 1989. 1-84 [Electronic Reserve]

Suggested Reading:

– Alan Dunn, “The Mechanics of Transport: Sublimity and the Imagery of Abjection in Rochester, Swift, and Burke" (1995) [Electronic Reserve]

March 7: Post-1688 and the Poetics of Irony: The Anti-Sublime? (II)

“He hangs between: in doubt to act, or rest, / In doubt to deem himself a God, or Beast; / In doubt his Mind or Body to prefer, / Born but to die, and reas’ning but to err . . .”

– Alexander Pope, "Preface" to his translation of The Iliad (1715-20) from The Iliad and Odyssey of Homer, Translated by Alexander Pope, with Notes and Introduction. Ed. Rev. Theodore Alois Buckley. London: Frederick Warne, 187? ix-xxiv [Electronic Reserve]

- - - “Peri Bathos; or, Martinus Scriblerus, His Treatise of the Art of Sinking in Poetry.” (1728) from Alexander Pope: The Major Works. Ed. Pat Rogers. New York: Oxford, 2006. 195-239 [Electronic Reserve]

- - - “An Essay on Man” (The first two Eplisles were written in 1732, the third in 1733, and the fourth in 1744.) from Alexander Pope: The Major Works. Ed. Pat Rogers. New York: Oxford, 2006. 270-311 [Electronic Reserve]

– Sir Richard Blackmore, A Paraphrase of the Book of Job. from A Paraphrase on the Book of Job: As Likewise on the Songs of Moses, Deborah, David: On Four Select Psalms: Some Chapters of Isaiah, and the Third Chapter of Habakkuk. London: Awnsham and John Churchill, 1700. [Library Reserve]

– Stephen Mitchell, The Book of Job. Trans. Stephen Mitchell. New York: Harper Perennial, 1992.**

Suggested Reading:

– Jonathan Lamb, "'Deformed he lay, disfigur'd': Pope reads Blackmore's Job." from The Rhetoric of Suffering: Reading the Book of Job in the Eighteenth Century. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1995. 205-225 [Electronic Reserve]

– James Noggle, “The Public Universe: An Essay on Man and the Limits of the Sublime Tradition” (2001) [Electronic Reserve]

* * Unit 3: The 18th Century and the Taste for the Sublime * *

March 14: The Psychology of Taste: Sublime/Beautiful Dichotomy and the Theory of Delight:

“When danger or pain press too nearly, they are incapable of giving any delight, and are simply terrible; but at certain distances, and with certain modifications, they may be, and they are delightful”

– Edmund Burke, A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful (1757); Editor’s Preface: James T. Boulton (1968) **

– Samuel Holt Monk, “The Sublime in Transition” and "Burke's Enquiry." from The Sublime: A Study of Critical Theories of the Sublime in XVIII-Century England. (1935). With a New Preface by the Author. Annn Arbor: U of Michigan P, 1960. [Electronic Reserve]

– Steven Knapp, "Milton's Allegory of Sin and Death in Eighteenth-Century Criticism." from Personification and the Sublime: Milton to Coleridge. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1985. 51-65 [Electronic Reserve]

Suggested Reading:

– Frances Ferguson, "An Introduction to the Sublime" and “The Sublime of Edmund Burke, or the Bathos of Experience” from Solitude and the Sublime: Romanticism and the Aesthetics of Individuation. New York: Routledge, 1992. 1-54 [Electronic Reserve]

– Jonathan Lamb, "Sympathy, the Sublime, and Sappho." from The Rhetoric of Suffering: Reading the Book of Job in the Eighteenth Century. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1995. 174-202 [Electronic Reserve]

March 21: SPRING BREAK

March 28: Sensibility: Toward Pleasure and Melancholy:

“Man’s feeble race what Ills await, / Labour, and Penury, the racks of Pain, / Disease, and Sorrow’s weeping train, / And Death, sad refuge from the storms of Fate!”

– Mark Akenside, The Pleasures of Imagination. 1744/1795. Facimile Reprint Chosen and Introduced by Johathan Wordsworth. Otley: Woodstock Books, 2000. [Electronic Reserve]

– William Collins, “Ode to Fear” (1747) from The Works of William Collins. Eds. Richard Wendorf and Charles Ryskamp. Oxford: Clarendon, 1979. 27-29 [Electronic Reserve]

– Thomas Gray, “Elegy Writen in a Country Church-Yard” (1742-44/pub.1750-51) from The Norton Anthology of English Literature. Eighth Edition. Vol. C “The Restoration and the Eighteenth Century.” Eds. Lawrence Lipking and James Noggle. New York: Norton, 2006. 2867-2870 [Electronic Reserve]

– James Thompson, “Winter.” from The Seasons. London: Henry Woodfall for A. Millar, 1744. [Electronic Reserve]

Suggested Reading:

– Casey Finch, "Immediacy in the Odes of William Collins." Eighteenth-Century Studies. 20.3 (1987): 275-295 [JSTOR online]

Resources to Peruse:

The Dictionary of Sensibility. Department of English. University of Virginia

* * Unit 4: The Romantic Sublime * *

April 4: Continental Sublimity: Subjective Transcendence and “the invisible world”

"Thus the broad ocean agitated by storms cannot be called sublime."

– Immanuel Kant, "Part I: Critique of Aesthetic Judgement." from The Critique of Judgement. 1790. Ed. James Creed Meredith. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1952. 3-227 **
Note: I strongly encourage you to read the entirety of “Part I: Critique of Aesthetic Judgement,” but we will be focused on pages 90 through 132 of Meredith’s translation.

– Jean-Francois Lyotard, “Answering the Question: What is Postmodernism?” from The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge. 1979. Trans. Geoff Bennington and Brian Massumi. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1984. 71-82 [Electronic Reserve]

Suggested Reading:

Immanuel Kant, Observations on the Feeling of the Beautiful and Sublime. 1764. Trans. John T. Goldthwait. 2nd Paperback Ed. Berkeley: U of California P, 2003. [Electronic Reserve]

April 11: Romantic Poetics and Sublimity: Grief, Memory, Memorialization

"sleeping on a glass sea" | "Down dropt the breeze, the sails dropt down, / 'Twas sad as sad could be; / And we did speak only to break / The silence of the sea"

– Samuel Taylor Coleridge, "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" (1798 / 1817) from Samuel Taylor Coleridge: The Major Works. Ed. H. J. Jackson. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2000. 48-68 [Electronic Reserve]

– William Wordsworth,“Elegiac Stanzas. Suggested by a Picture of Peele Castle, in a Storm, Painted by Sir George Beaumont.” (1805/p. 1807) William Wordsworth: The Major Works. Ed. Stephen Gill. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2000. 326-328 [Electronic Reserve]

- - - The Two-Part Prelude of 1799. from The Prelude: 1799, 1805, 1850. Eds. Jonathan Wordsworth, M.H. Abrams, and Stephen Gill. New York: Norton, 1979. 1-27 [Electronic Reserve]

– Charlotte Smith, “Beachy Head” (1807) from The Poems of Charlotte Smith. Ed. Stuart Curran. New York: Oxford UP, 1993. 217-247 [Electronic Reserve]

– Neil Hertz, “The Notion of Blockage in the Literature of the Sublime” from The End of the Line: Essays on Psychoanalysis and the Sublime. New York: Columbia UP, 1985. 40-60 [Electronic Reserve]

– Anne D. Wallace, "Picturesque Fossils, Sublime Geology? The Crisis of Authority in Charlotte Smith's Beachy Head." European Romantic Review. 13.1 (2002): 77-93. [Electronic Reserve]

Suggested Reading:

– Frances Ferguson, “Burke to Kant: A Judgement Outside Comparison” from Solitude and the Sublime: Romanticism and the Aesthetics of Individuation (1992) [Electronic Reserve]

April 18: Gothic Terror

"What is this secret sin; this untold tale / That art cannot extract, nor penance cleanse?"

– Anne Radcliffe, The Italian. (1797) Ed. Frederick Garber. New York: Oxford UP, 1998.**

April 25: Gothic Parady: Am I laughing, or am I More Scared Still?

"This is strange indeed! I did not expect such a sight as this! –– An immense heavy chest! –– What can it hold! –– Why would it be placed here? –– Pushed back too, as if meant to be out of sight! –– I will look into it –– cost me what it may, I will look into it –– and directly too –– by day-light."

– Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey. 1798/ p. 1817/1818. Ed. Marilyn Gaull. New York, Longman, 2005. **

 

Office & Office Hours

Independence 175B
T 2-3:45pm and by appointment

Course Location & Time

Providence Campus
W 4-6:45pm

Required Texts

Longinus, On the Sublime. 1 A.D. Trans. W. H. Fyfe; Rev. D. A. Russell. Loeb Classical Library, 1996.
ISBN: 0674995635

 John Milton, Paradise Lost. 1674. Ed. Gordon Teskey. New York: Norton, 2005.
ISBN: 0393924289

 René Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy. A Bilingual Edition. Ed. George Heffernan. Notre Dame: U. of Notre Dame P, 1990.
ISBN: 0268013810

The Book of Job. Trans. Stephen Mitchell. New York: Harper Perennial, 1992. ISBN: 0060969598

Edmund Burke, A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful. 1757. Ed. James T. Boulton. Indiana: U of Notre Dame P, 1993.
ISBN: 0268000859

Immanuel Kant. The Critique of Judgement. 1790. Trans. James Creed Meredith. New York: Oxford UP, 1978. ISBN: 0198245890

Anne Radcliffe. The Italian. Ed. Frederick Garber. New York: Oxford UP, 1998.
ISBN: 0192832549

Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey. Ed. Marilyn Gaull. New York: Longman, 2004.
ISBN: 0321202082

Suggested Texts

Michael Greer. What Every Student Should Know About Citing Sources with MLA Documentation. New York: Longman, 2006.
ISBN: 0321447379

Joseph Gibaldi. MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. 6th Rev. Edition. MLA P, 2003
ISBN: 0873529863

Diana Hacker. A Writer’s Reference. 5th Sprl edition. Bedford/St. Martin's P, 2003.
ISBN: 0312412622


Course Requirements

Participation (25%)
2 Short Essays (25%)
Seminar Paper (50%)