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Literature 3B: Eighteenth-Century British Literature


Admission requirements

Literature 1A and Literature 2, or equivalent.


Literature 3B is a survey course covering developments in British poetry and prose fiction during the eighteenth century. The literary works on the reading list will be read in relation to various aesthetic and historical contexts, and in the light of key concepts such as enlightenment, reason, decorum, the self, faith, the public sphere, sensibility and the imagination. Because the novel is such a dominant literary form in our own time, we will study in detail the eighteenth-century genesis and development of this genre. Other topics covered are stylistic and thematic developments from Neoclassicism through Sensibility towards various types of Romanticism.

Course objectives

By the end of the course students will:

  • Have good general knowledge and understanding of the major stylistic, structural and thematic developments in eighteenth-century British literature.

  • Have a thorough understanding of key eighteenth-century literary categories and concepts such as prose fiction, the novel, realism, versimilitude, sensibility and Romanticism.

  • Be able to analyse works of eighteenth-century literature in relation to key cultural-historical contexts.
    Have further developed their academic research and writing skills by writing a scholarly essay with a smal research component.


Visit MyTimetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminars

  • Self-motivated study of assigned reading

Assessment method


  • A 1200-1500-word essay with a small research component (two academic essays), presented according to the rules of the MLA stylesheet (35%).

  • Take-home exam at the end of the course (65%).

Students should obtain at least a 6 for the essay, and a 5 for the take-home exam


  • 1-hour exam in October (15%).

  • 1-hour exam in December or January (15%).

Both exams primarily test students’ contextual knowledge (cultural-historical contexts, a selection of scholarly articles)

  • 1200-1500-word essay with a small research component (two academic essays), presented according to the rules of the MLA stylesheet (25%).

  • Take-home exam in December or January, consisting of 400-word essays (45%).

A minimum mark of 5.5 for the two 1-hour exams; a minimum mark of 6 for the essay and take-home exam.

Attendance is compulsory. Missing more than two tutorials means that students will be excluded from the tutorials. Unauthorized absence also applies to being unprepared, not participating and/or not bringing the relevant course materials to class.


Insufficient components can be retaken.

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.  

Reading list

  • Warburton, Nigel. The Basics of Essay Writing (Routledge)

  • Defoe, Daniel. Robinson Crusoe (Penguin)

  • Fielding, Henry. Joseph Andrews (Oxford World’s Classics)

  • Godwin, William. Caleb Williams (Oxford World’s Classics)

  • Greenblatt, Stephen, et al (eds.), The Norton Anthology of English Literature, 9th or 10th edition, vols 1 & 2, or vols C (The Restoration and the Eighteenth Century) & D (The Romantic Period) (Norton)

  • Radcliffe, Ann, A Sicilian Romance (Oxford World’s Classics)

  • Richardson, Samuel. Pamela (Oxford World’s Classics)


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.

General information about uSis is available on the website

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Registration Studeren à la carte

Registration Contractonderwijs


Please contact Student administration Arsenaal or the coordinator of studies for questions.


The reading for week 1 is: “Introduction to the Restoration and the Eighteenth Century (1660-1785)” and Aphra Behn, “Oroonoko, or the Royal Slave” in The Norton Anthology of English Literature, volume 1.

Disclaimer: Please note that the course descriptions, in particular the assessment method, might be adjusted (timely) depending on the measures taken regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.