G-LSUD3 EnLit365 The Literature of Sensibility and Sentiment

Course type



The course looks at a body of literature in the 18th century which promoted emotionalism rather than rationalism, and posited that feelings are more reliable guides to morality than judgment, principles and theories. It viewed human nature as essentially benevolent – virtuous, sensitive, compassionate, capable of strong emotions as well as of delicacy and tender passions. The literature of sensibility belongs within a wider context of 18th-century culture, namely the culture (if not the cult) of sensibility. It can be seen as proceeding from this socio-cultural attitude, but also as promoting and reinforcing it. We shall examine some features of this literature and culture in contemporary poems, plays and novels, and we shall explore their relation to the history of ideas, and the economic and social transformations that were taking place in eighteenth-century England – that is, to the contexts within which this view of human psychology developed. Expected learning outcomes: •Understanding the broad themes and innovative elements of the literature of this period. •Understanding its position in between the declining 18th-century neoclassical view of nature, man and society, and the forthcoming Romantic perspective. •Perceiving its social and ideological function. •Observation of the persistence of elements of the sentimental paradigm in contemporary (mostly popular) culture. Course textbook and outline/bibliography are available. Assessment: Final exam (in-class essays)


Teaching hours: 3 | Credits: 3 | ECTS: 6

The course is not currently offerred.