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British Popular Literature from the 17th Century to the Present Time

This course is organized topically and not chronologically. We will begin with the present time. Using some ideas from the British media expert Dick Hebdige, we will argue that young people construct a youth culture based on the Internet and the cult of celebrity that they find there. We will argue that the Internet promotes oral and visual communication and not the written word. Having established that point, we will look at the oral and visual popular culture of Britain when printing had only recently been introduced. We will use Margaret Spufford’s Small Books and Pleasant Histories for some of our ideas. Having established theories for beginning and ending our period, we will turn to the popular literature of the 18th and 19th centuries. We will argue that Europe and Britain in particular had an 18th century fashion for art supposedly from the common people. The queen of France dressed herself as a shepherdess and built an imitation shepherd house. When the steam driven rotary press and cheap paper transformed book publishing in the early 19th century, the supposedly popular items from the 18th century were immensely successful, covered by the novels of Sir Walter Scott.

Credits: 6/3

Course ID: LIT_E_200


Profile Literature

Taught this semester: Yes

Complies with general requirements: Yes

Course Type: Elective Course

Language: English