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Money, Manners, Morals and Madness: Eighteenth-Century Prose Fiction


Admission requirements

A relevant BA degree.


This course intends to offer an extension and deepening of the Lit 3B course in the BA programme of the English Department by means of a detailed study and analytical reading of representative eighteenth- century prose fictions. In doing so, we will also trace the origins and early development of a major literary genre which at the time was often considered to be of inferior aesthetic value. We will also investigate what these novels and novellas tell us about the Enlightenment, the Age of Sensibility and early Romanticism, and how they reflect the cultural, moral, and economical values of this period. Why and when have (most of) these texts become “canonical”, and why are they still worth reading in the twenty-first century? Which literary-critical or theoretical approaches have been or could be fruitfully applied to each of these texts, and what areas of further research might be called for?

Course objectives

Based on the assumption that participants have already acquired the basic skills for the analysis of literary texts, this course aims to extend these skills both in terms of textual analysis (close reading) and contextual approach (cultural-historical as well as theoretical). Students will be encouraged to share analytical and theoretical views on the assigned texts in class discussions, including short presentations, and to focus research skills on a relevant subject of their own choice within the parameters of the course in the form of a final research paper.


Tuesday 14-17
The timetable will be available by June 1st on the website

Mode of instruction


Course Load

Class attendance: 40 hours;
Primary reading: 162 hours;
Secondary reading: 30 hours;
Final paper: 48 hrs;
Total: 280 hours.

Assessment method

Active participation in class (including the presentation of a weekly ‘reading report’) and a 5.000-word paper will contribute for 50% each toward the final mark.
Incomplete or insufficient class attendance may be replaced by an oral examination, insufficient papers may be rewritten.


Blackboard will not be used.

Reading list

Literature (preferably in recent annotated Penguin or World’s Classics editions, in order of programme):

  • Daniel Defoe, Moll Flanders (1722)

  • Samuel Richardson, Clarissa (1747-49)

  • Henry Fielding, Tom Jones (1749)

  • Samuel Johnson, Rasselas (1759)

  • Laurence Sterne, Tristram Shandy (1759-67)

  • Horace Walpole, The Castle of Otranto (1765)

  • Oliver Goldsmith, The Vicar of Wakefield (1766)

  • Tobias Smollett, Humphrey Clinker (1771)

  • Elizabeth Inchbald, A Simple Story (1791)

  • Robert Bage, Hermsprong (1796)
    Reader with selections from Cleland, Johnson, and “Ossian”. Available on reader on line.


Enrollment through uSis is mandatory. If you have any questions, please contact the departmental office, tel. 071 527 2252 or mail:

When registering students of the MA Literary studies take priority. The deadline for registration is January 15. All other students should contact the coordinator of studies: Ms S.J. de Kok, MA.

Contact details

Literary Studies student administration Van Wijkplaats 3, room 002. Tel. 071 527 2251 or

Coordinator of studies: Ms S.J. de Kok, MA, P.N. van Eyckhof 3, room 1.01b.