When I first signed up for this class, I only did it because I needed the credit because I am am English major, and it fit into my schedule. I honestly thought that 18th century literature would be boring. However, to my surprise, the class turned out to be interesting. I enjoyed hearing the background stories behind some of the writers, such as the exchange between Montague and Pope. I thought their relationship was hilarious because of the way they bantered back and forth.
I also learned how things were done back then that I did not know before taking this class. One of these are the printing press. I always wondered how they printed out newspapers and literature, and when I saw the presentation on how they did it, I was amazed. Printing was the 18th centuries full body workout!
I also learned about the coffee houses. They reminded me a a cafe where you could go sit down with your coffee and a treat and read a good book. Coffee houses sound so nice. I wish someone from today would create a cafe that also has books that I can read while I eat a nice treat. I
So, those are some of the topics I found interesting and learned about for the first time while taking this course. Did you guys enjoy the course, and if so, what? What did you learn that you did not learn before?
For my third position, I took a more unorthodox approach. It was slightly more informal because wrote my essay in a letter form. I am pretending to be an tutor of a young boy Spencer, and I want to tutor Northanger Abbey to him. However, I have received a letter from Mrs. Smith, his mother, about her worries of her son reading an novel.
Some of the topics I cover in my position paper is strengthening Spencer’s reading skills, broadening his vocabulary, and helping him to improve his writing skills. In the essay, I know that Mrs. Smith and many others are part of the moral panic of novel reading, but I explain to her that by her son novel reading, not only will it improve his reading skills, his writing skills, and broaden his vocabulary, but by learning these skills it will help him to become a better at socializing with educated men, as well help him to woo the ladies. So, by reading novels, it will not only make him a better reader, but it can also help him become a scholar and find himself an well rounded women.
So those are the reasons I am focusing on in my position paper. I believe I took a different approach from what many of you are doing, but I like the ideas that I am doing, as well as I am enjoying writing this paper. This, by far, has to be my favorite position paper that I have wrote for this class because it was fun writing it as a letter and not an formal paper. What are your ideas for the paper? Are they similar to mine or completely different?
After reading The Progress of Romance through Times by Clara Reeve was different from some of the other works we have read in class. Reeve dedicates this work to discussing about women writers, and how their writing is inappropriate. Reeve mainly focuses her argument on Behn and Haywood.
I found this piece interesting because most women during this time frame wanted to have other women write about about sex and be witty in their writing. Women wanted other women to do this for a specific reason: to show men that women can write and that they deserve an education. That is why I found Reeve’s piece so fascinating. She feels that women should write in an proper way: “There are strong marks of genius in all this lady’s works, but unhappily, there are some parts of them very improper to be read by, or recommended to, virtuous minds, and especially to youth.” (Reeve 664). She is writing about Behn in this passage, and she acknowledges that Behn is a good writer, but she is not writing about what women should be writing about. Reeve feels that women should with women virtues in mind, such as obedience and chastity.
The reason I found this work different from other women writers we have read is because, as I mentioned before, most women from the 18th century wanted to write in a way that challenged men, but Reeve wants women to write in a way that is proper and does not challenge me. To me, it seems that Reeve is fine with woman being the inferior sex, and does want women to challenge men for the right to women’s education. What do you think? Do you feel that Reeve wants women to remain unequal to men, or do you think she is hinting in The Progress of Romance through Times that women can evolve in a more subtle way?
After reading Samuel Johnson’s The Idler No. 30, I realized what he states is the truth. Johnson writes on how people are no longer satisfied with one piece of news everyday. Instead, everyone wants multiple news stories. However, Johnson says that people do not care about news that deals with peace and happiness. Instead, people only want to know about war, ad who is fighting and who is victorious and who is conquered. Johnson also points out that many of the writers are telling lies, and that he does not know which one is better: “…and i know not whether more is to be dreaded from streets filled with soldiers accustomed to plunder, or from garrets filled with scribblers accustomed to lie.” (Johnson 664).
I think this is important to note because, even today, Johnson has a point. People, both in the past and today, have a tendency to only care about about the tragedies and worrying news. For example, if you turn on a news section, most of the news you see is negative. You seldom see positive news.
Johnson is also right about writers being accustomed to lie, which is what we call gossip nowadays. People want the juicy details in a story, such as who broke up with how. People do not care if someone helped a old lady cross the street. People would view news like that as a waste of time.
So, in my opinion, Johnson was on to something. Humans as a species keep demanding more, and they want the interesting and/or tragedy stories. I leave you with this question: Would the world be a better place with or without news?
After watching Michael’s presentation on Orientalism yesterday, I was very intrigued by learning that the definition of Orientalism is viewing something as different and/or believing that others should help change the view of something, but feel they do not have to help themselves.
An example that was mentioned in class yesterday was global warming. Big companies have a significant impact on the environment, but keep telling the general public that we need to change the ways they live, when they are doing nothing themselves to change the ways they operate. I did not think the explosion that happened at the refinery last year until someone mentioned in class yesterday that the heading for it was something along the lines of “Thankful that nobody died.” Yes, it is a very good thing that no lives were lost during this explosion, but it was not mentioned that how bad this explosion was for the environment.
This made me think of Orientalism between different races, and how many people in society view other races differently, and how other races have practices that other races find strange. When I first looked at the cover of Rasselas, I saw that it was written by Samuel Johnson, and it made me think if this was going to be a personal attack on another race. I found out that is was not, but it was very rare for others from Britain to write about other races, especially since they really had no idea what other races practice. After Michael’s presentation yesterday, it made me realize that what I was worried about was Orientalism.
What I am getting at is races (especially ours) and especially back in the 18th century, always felt that other races should change to be like them. An example of this would be the Europeans coming to Canada and wanting to Christianize the Indigenous people that lived there because they thought their practice was savage. The Europeans never thought that maybe since we have come to their home, maybe we should change to live like them, or come together and teach each other about our ways. So, this made me realize how much Orientalism affects us every day.
Is the internet our coffee house? I know we discussed this in class yesterday, and many of you agreed that the internet is our coffee house. I mostly agree with this question, but there is also one major difference that makes me feel that the internet is not our coffee house.
First of all, i do agree that the internet is our coffee house. As we learned from Abby’s presentation yesterday, many coffee houses were built across London with different interests in mind, such as poetry and philosophy. So, men would go to the coffee houses that were based on their interests. This is similar to different social groups you can find on the internet. For example, if you are interested in soccer, you can join a soccer group versus someone prefers art can be a part of an art group. You can go on your groups at anytime during the day and chat with fellow group members about your practice or about the game you watched on TV while you drink a cup of coffee. This is what is similar about the coffee houses because you could enjoy some coffee while you discussed topics that you are interested in.
However, there is one difference between coffee houses and and the internet that is not the same that I want to point out. As I mentioned before, I do agree that the internet is our coffee house. However, the one difference is that by doing things on the internet, you are not talking face to face. Even if you Facetime someone, you are not in person. At the coffee houses, people could mingle and discuss in person, which would make them a bit more conscious when saying something because they would not want to be physically attacked, whereas on the internet, people may be more likely to speak their mind because they are not going to get the backlash of the person who they offended. Either than that though, I do feel like the internet is our coffee house.
I did not find Oroonoko about freeing slaves. Behn does touch on the horrible fates that many slaves endured, but Behn seems to be telling a story more so than convincing the wealthy to stop buying slaves. First Behn starts by describing why Europeans associating with the Native Americans. It was for trading. They traded with them for their”fish, venison, buuffaloes, skins, and little rarities.” (Behn 203). She then goes onto say that she thought these people were innocent. However, if this was an anti slavery text, she would not be describing how they first started to trade with, or at least, not in the pleasant tone that she uses. If she was writing an anti slavery text, she would be more passionate and getting right to the point about how slaves were treated.
Also, Behn mentions the King of Comamentien and how he was “a hundred and odd years old, and had no son, though he had many beautiful wives.” (Behn 205). This is not relevant to the topic of anti slavery.
When she finally gets to the story of Oroonoko, that is just it; a story. Most of the text is most of his life story, such as all his agonies of love and also talked about the king. So to me, this is not an anti slavery text. If it was, the whole text would have focused on how cruel his life was,, and his fight for his freedom which would have drawn the anger and agony out of the readers, showing them the truth of the treatment of slaves, but instead, it is more of a story instead of the truth.
I have to say i do not agree with with Johnson about Pope. As I learned in class, Pope was sickly when he was younger. However, Johnson totally butchers him for it, say that he is so small and frail that he is more feminine than masculine. I cannot agree with this because it is not Pope’s fault that he was sick, and it is not right of Johnson to bring into the public light about Pope’s private condition. It is Pope’s information to share, not Johnson’s. However, he does say that Pope wrote with certainty, so Johnson does give positive feedback to Pope.
As for Dryden, I could tell that Johnson really enjoyed his works, saying things like “In acquired knowledge the superiority must be allowed to Dryden, whose education was more scholastic…” (Johnson 797), and “The style of Dryden is capricious and varied.” (Johnson 798).
He compares Dryden and Pope to each other, saying one is more wild and care free, the other cautious and timid. With this, however, I do have to agree because from reading them, I got that sense. Johnson did not seem to give much care into what he was writing, such as death , which would have been a pretty iffy topic back in the 17th century. As for Pope, he was more cautious about what he wrote, such as criticizing. Pope never went crazy with his ideas, whereas Dryden rocked the boat a bit more. So, in that sense, I do have to agree with Johnson.
So much as changed in the last few hundred years. Back in the 17th century, people communicated with letters. This was their equivalent of email and text messages. Since letters took a while to get to the person the writer was sending them to, they would not write often, and it could take months for the letter to arrive, if it even arrived at all. However, this was normal, and if someone did not hear from their parents, siblings, friend, or significant other for months, this was totally acceptable and normal. Nowadays, things function a little differently. Now we communicate mainly through email and text messages. Since it only takes seconds for a message to get to the person you are sending your message to. If someone does not respond to a text message in a few seconds, an an email in an hour, it is considered that person is taking to long to respond, and sometimes someone might think someone is in a bad accident if they do not text back in a few minutes. Could you imagine waiting months for an response? I certainly could not.
There is also a difference between journals and social media. Journals were used for entertainment of the public, as well as providing news of what is going in in town, or in London. If someone heard a rumor of something big happening, they would have to wait until the following day to find out if it was true or not. Now, we do do not have to wait a day. Instead, we can simply go on Facebook or Twitter or even Snapchat to find out if something just happened or not. Back in the 18th century, if someone had to look up information, they would have to go to the library and it could take them hours to find what they are for. Today, all we need to do is Google something and multiple sources pop up.
Looking at the difference between the two periods, I fully realize just how easy we have it nowadays.
It is interesting to look at the difference in female education today, and how it differs from the eighteenth century. Back then, women were not given the right to get an education. Their main roles in society were were to follow their father’s wishes until they got married, and for the rest of their lives, women then had to do as their husbands say. The only other thing women were expected to do at this time was to have kids. However, women writers thought differently. They already took it up a notch with writing and publishing their works, which many men and women did not agree with. However, women writers either wrote about or applied it in some of their works that they wanted an education.
For example, Eliza Haywood wrote The Women Spectator stating that women are not in need of protection and frivolous like men make them out to be. Haywood says that the reason women are like this is because they are not receiving the education that men are, so women can not understand the world the way men do. However, Haywood writes if women did, and were allowed to receive the same education that men are receiving, then they would be more independent in the world.
Lady Montagu does something similar in stating that women deserve an education, but she does not flat out write like Haywood did. Instead, she is constantly arguing with male writers, especially Pope. This shows that she believes that women are capable to compete and write just as well as men can, proving that women deserve an education.
While women back in the 18th century thought that women deserved an education. Women today have the right to education, and on the same level as men. As a women, I never had to worry about whether I would be allowed to receive an education or not. In grade 12, the guidance counselor asked me what I wanted to do, and then gave me some schools that had the program I was interested in. She never told me since I am a women that I was not allowed to go to school. My biggest concern is finding time to go ride my horse, which women back in the eighteenth century were also not allowed to go ride a horse without a man with them. Moving back on point, I realize how hard women had back then, and it makes me realize just how lucky I am to have the rights that I have today.