Skip to main content


Revival and Return: Using the Past from Pope to Keats (EASM142)

StaffDr Chris Ewers - Convenor
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15
NQF Level7
Duration of Module Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module aims

The long eighteenth century was a period of rapid change and innovation, but was also an age in which writers, artists, scholars and architects increasingly defined themselves in relation to the past. Indeed, many of the fiercest intellectual and political disputes of the period centred on differing interpretations of history. Neoclassical authors went to ancient Rome for literary models, while revolutionary thinkers looked to it for republican virtues. Reviving interest in medieval Europe inspired Gothic novels, and a myth of ancient Britain helped to create new conceptions of poetry. This module interrogates eighteenth-century (and early nineteenth-century) literature and culture, focusing on the reception of ancient, medieval, and renaissance culture. It will involve detailed study of work by canonical authors such as Pope, Walpole, Goldsmith, Coleridge and Keats, as well as less well-known figures.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Demonstrate advanced critical knowledge and understanding of the uses of the past in eighteenth-century English culture
  • 2. Demonstrate an advanced appreciation of modern theoretical debates surrounding the interpretation of these issues

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 3. Demonstrate an advanced and precise ability to work from the close detail of literary texts, with a full appreciation of their formal aspects
  • 4. Demonstrate an advanced ability to digest, select, and organise interdisciplinary material and to trace the development of debate across disciplinary boundaries

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 5. Through essay-writing, demonstrate advanced research and bibliographic skills, an advanced and intellectually mature capacity to construct a coherent, substantiated argument and to write clear and correct prose
  • 6. Through research for seminars, essays, and presentations demonstrate an advanced proficiency in information retrieval and analysis
  • 7. Through responses to constructive feedback on plans and writing, demonstrate an advanced and intellectually mature ability to reflect upon and strengthen written work

Syllabus plan

Whilst the content may vary from year to year, it is envisioned that it will cover some or all of the following topics:

  • The Goths and the Classics
  • The Grand Tour
  • Graphic Satire in the Eighteenth Century: William Hogarth and James Gillray
  • Oliver Goldsmith and the Biblical Past
  • The Search for Origins
  • The Invention of Shakespeare
  • The Gothic Past: The Castle of Otranto
  • Romantic Medievalism
  • Classical, Orientalist, and Gothic Landscapes

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching22Seminars
Guided Independent Study100Reading, research and essay preparation
Guided Independent Study178Seminar preparation (independent)

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Abstract 500 words1-6Feedback in seminars with opportunity for tutorial follow-up

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay252500 words1-7 Feedback sheet with opportunity for tutorial follow-up
Essay755000 words1-7 Feedback sheet with opportunity for tutorial follow-up

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
EssayEssay1-7Referral/Deferral period
Essay Essay 1-7Referral/Deferral period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 50%) you will be required to submit a further assessment as necessary. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of referral will be capped at 50%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Core Reading:

  • Roger Lonsdale (ed.), The New Oxford Book of Eighteenth-Century Verse (Oxford, 1984)
  • Jerome C McGann (ed.), The New Oxford Book of Romantic period Verse (Oxford, 1993)

Secondary Reading:

  • Philip Ayres, Classical Culture and the Ideal of Rome in Eighteenth-Century England (Cambridge, 1997)
  • Clive Bloom, Gothic Histories: The Taste for Terror, 1764 to the Present (2010)
  • Thomas M. Curley, Samuel Johnson, The Ossian Fraud and the Celtic Revival in Great Britain and Ireland (Cambridge, 2009)
  • Damien Walford Davies (ed), Romanticism, History, Historicism: Essays on an Orthodoxy (Routledge, 2009)
  • Michael Dobson, The Making of the National Poet: Shakespeare, Adaptation and Authorship, 1660-1769 (Oxford, 1992)
  • Nick Groom, ‘Romantic Poetry and Antiquity’, in The Cambridge Companion to British Romantic Poetry, ed. James Chandler and Maureen McLane (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008), 35-52.
  • John Dixon Hunt, The Figure in the Landscape: Poetry, Painting, and Gardening during the Eighteenth Century (Baltimore, 1976).
  • Rosemary Sweet, Antiquaries: The Discovery of the Past in Eighteenth-Century Britain (Hambledon and London, 2004)
  • James Watt, Contesting the Gothic: Fiction, Genre and Cultural Conflict 1764-1832 (CUP, 2006)
  • Howard Weinbrot, Britannia's Issue: The Rise of British Literature from Dryden to Ossian (Cambridge, 1993)

Module has an active ELE page?


Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Available as distance learning?


Origin date

October 2011

Last revision date


Key words search

Eighteenth century, neoclassical, medievalism, gothic