The Restoration and Eighteenth Century section of Norton Topics Online presents an era of unprecedented expansion, when the city of London was growing rapidly, new worlds were opened up by the technologies of the telescope and the microscope, and Britain was building its first empire, an enterprise fueled by the slave trade.

Suggested uses of Norton Topics Online: The Restoration and the Eighteenth Century with The Norton Anthology of English Literature, Seventh Edition (anthology page references for the new Seventh Edition are included below):

A Day in Eighteenth-Century London

Samuel Pepys, The Diary NAEL7.1.2123
Jonathan Swift, A Description of a City Shower NAEL7.1.2300
John Dryden, Annus Mirabilis NAEL7.1.2073
Alexander Pope, The Rape of the Lock NAEL7.1.2525
  [See also NAEL7.1.2892, Poems in Progress, for a look at revisions made to The Rape of the Lock.]  
Joseph Addison and Sir Richard Steele, The Tatler and The Spectator NAEL7.1.2481
William Congreve, The Way of the World NAEL7.1.2217
John Gay, The Beggar's Opera NAEL7.1.2606
William Hogarth, Marriage A-la-Mode NAEL7.1.2654

A Day in Eighteenth-Century London examines representations of the vibrant city that symbolized both business and pleasure for eighteenth-century Britons. The texts collected here give insight into the coffeehouse culture that provides the context and content of Addison and Steele's (and later, Johnson's) periodicals. Here, too, one finds descriptions of the street life observed and mocked by Swift and Gay, and sketches of the pleasure grounds and entertainments of the ton so deftly satirized by Congreve and Hogarth.

The eighteenth-century descriptions of the city archived online and in the companion readings listed above are perhaps best understood when read in tandem with works depicting the country; selections from Oliver Goldsmith (NAEL7.1.2858), George Crabbe (NAEL7.1.2867), Thomas Gray (NAEL7.1.2826, 2830), James Thomson (NAEL7.1.2822) and William Cowper (NAEL7.1.2875) provide striking and useful contrasts. Contemporary definitions of gender roles may be explored at length using the Norton Anthology section entitled Debating Women: Arguments in Verse (NAEL7.1.2584).

Slavery and the Slave Trade in Britain

Ignatius Sancho and Laurence Sterne, Letters NAEL7.1.2807
Samuel Johnson, A Brief to Free a Slave NAEL7.1.2811
Olaudah Equiano, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African, Written by Himself NAEL7.1.2812
James Thomson, Rule, Britannia NAEL7.1.2824
Aphra Behn, Oroonoko, or The Royal Slave NAEL7.1.2170
John Ruskin, The Slave Ship NAEL7.2.1429

Slavery and the Slave Trade in Britain in Britain offers students texts designed to complement those in the section entitled Slavery and Freedom in the Norton Anthology. The readings presented here juxtapose Britons' sense of personal and national liberty (as expressed in Thomson's poem and in Johnson's prose) with Britain's economic reliance upon the slave trade and slave labor. Documents such as Liverpool's anti-abolitionist petition to the House of Commons and the slave-trader Nicholas Owen's journal furnish a counterpoint to the sympathetically drawn slave narratives of Behn and Equiano, and the abolitionist discourses of More and Cowper.

The Plurality of Worlds

John Locke, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding NAEL7.1.2146
Margaret Cavendish, The Description of a New World, Called The Blazing World NAEL7.1.1765
Sir Isaac Newton, A Letter of Mr. Isaac Newton NAEL7.1.2151
Alexander Pope, An Essay on Man NAEL7.1.2554
Christopher Smart, A Song to David NAEL7.1.2842
James Thomson, The Seasons NAEL7.1.2822
Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy NAEL7.1.1560
John Donne, An Anatomy of the World NAEL7.1.1262
Jonathan Swift, Gulliver's Travels NAEL7.1.2420

The Plurality of Worlds considers those scientific methods, philosophies and technologies of the Restoration and the eighteenth century which exerted the most pervasive influence upon people's views of the world and their place in it. Newton's theories of light and Galileo's telescopic observations of the universe are amongst the readings which provide a background crucial to understanding Pope's idea of man's place in God's vast universe, and Smart's joyous adoration of creation's variety. Cavendish's claim, "I have made a world of my own: for which no body, I hope, will blame me, since it is in every one's power to do the like" (NAEL7.1.1766), reveals the imaginative possibilities of this new sense of a universe that stretched from the microscopic worlds espied by Hooke and van Leeuwenhoek, to the distant galaxies postulated by Wright.

Travel, Trade, and the Expansion of Empire

Samuel Johnson, A Dictionary of the English Language NAEL7.1.2719
James Boswell, Boswell on the Grand Tour NAEL7.1.2751
Jonathan Swift, Gulliver's Travels NAEL7.1.2329
Samuel Johnson, The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abyssinia NAEL7.1.2678

Travel, Trade, and the Expansion of Empire examines the popularity of travel writing during the eighteenth century. From voyages of exploration to narratives of captivity, from journeys undertaken for reasons of education or personal health to piratical cruises, these texts of travels both real and imagined provide a vital background to understanding Swift, Boswell, and Johnson's representations of the foreign and the exotic.

In addition to the eighteenth-century pairings suggested above, Travel, Trade, and the Expansion of Empire may be used as a part of a course-length chronological examination of travel narratives, colonization, and literary explorations of the "other." Beginning with the Norton Anthology's Sixteenth Century section entitled The Wider World (NAEL 889-906) and the Norton Topics Online units Renaissance Exploration, Travel, and the World Outside Europe, and Island Nations: Forging and Contesting Identities in the British Isles, one might then proceed to a reading of Emigrants and Settlers: Seventeenth-Century Colonial Writing and the Expansion of Englishness (Norton Topics Online) to Travel, Trade and the Expansion of Empire. Readings from Romantic Orientalism (Norton Topics Online), followed by Victorian Imperialism (Norton Topics Online) and finally, Imperialism to Postcolonialism: Perspectives on the British Empire (Norton Topics Online) would complete the tour.


© 2010 W.W. Norton and Company :  Site Feedback  :  Help  :  Credits  :  Home  :  Top of page    
Home