Summer Seminar 2022
The theme of next year's Summer Seminar will be Augustan England, which we are defining as the period between The "Glorious" Revolution of 1688 and the death of King George I. These were the years of William III and Good Queen Anne, the Duke of Marlborough's victories and also the age that saw the emergence of two distinct political parties and ideologies.
More significantly for our seminar, it was one of the great ages of English literature Addison was creating the English essay and Defoe was passing off the fictions of Robinson Crusoe and Moll Flanders, but above all it was the age of Alexander Pope and Jonathan Swift and their friends, especially John Gay, whose Beggars Opera remains a classic of English comedy and inspired the Marxist rip-off, The Three Penny Opera.
We have not fully worked out the reading list, but student will certainly wish to go over some history of the period. I am not recommending the quite readable works of the acknowledged story master of the period, G.M. Trevelyan, who is is as partisan as he is able. A briefer, fairer, and. more readable account can be got from the relevant volumes of Churchill's History of the English Speaking Peoples. Churchill's most important history, the multi-volume biography in praise of his ancestor the first Duke of Marlborough, is not for the faint of heart or readers with a short attention span.
We shall certainly be taking up Swift, both Gulliver's Travels and The Tale of a Tub. His "Battle of the Books" will be taken up in treatments of the war between the ancients and the moderns. Pope's imitations of Horace and parts of The Dunciad and the Essay on Man will also be discussed, both because of their intrinsic merits and because of the light they shed on the age 's infatuation with Augustan Rome. Dryden's Aeneid also belongs to our periods, and some parts may be taken up an a talk illustrating the development of English verse.
John Gay's "The Beggars Opera" can be read, but it is also possible rent the 1953 film, produced by and starring Laurence Olivier, with fine performances by Hugh Griffith and Stanley Holloway. The play--a satire on the political powers that ruled England--was so offensive that a sequel was not able to be performed. Gay's 'opera" will not be the only musical topic, since we are promised a lecture on early 18th century English music.
Frank Brownlow, E. Christian Kopff, and Charles Yost have agreed to join me in giving lectures.