School of Arts & Sciences
Marymount University

EN490: Major Authors
“Alexander the Little and the Furious Sappho: Pope and Montagu”
Tuesdays 6:30-9:15 | Gailhac Hall G103
Spring 2015
This course is: WI, LT-2, DSINQ
Final Exam Date: TBA

“No entertainment is so cheap as reading, nor is any pleasure so lasting.” --MWM
“True ease in writing comes from art, not chance, / as those move easiest who have learn'd to dance.” --AP

Dr. Howe
Office Hours and Location: Butler Hall G126
Wednesdays by appt | Thursdays 11:00-12:00 and 1:00-3:00 | Fridays 10:00-11:30

Left to right: A visual satire on Alexander Pope as a rat-like monkey, in response to his Dunciad. 1729. Painting of Mary Wortley Montagu, by Charles Jervas, after 1716. Painting of Alexander Pope, by Michael Dahl, circa 1727. From Wikimedia Commons.

Course Description (Catalog): Provides an in-depth study of one or two major writers. Author(s) announced in course schedule.

Course Description (Faculty): This term, we’ll explore the interrelated work of the famous eighteenth-century literary pair, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu and Alexander Pope--she, an, educated, aristocratic world traveller who was instrumental in developing the smallpox vaccine, and he, a hunchbacked Catholic poet who shaped some of the most astonishingly beautiful verse in human history. Born in the same year and members of the same social and literary circles, Montagu and Pope were also close friends themselves--even, in Pope’s mind, potential lovers. They collaborated on poetic work, and they exchanged many personal letters. Whether it was her rejection of his romantic advances or her criticism of his poetry that brought about their very acrimonious, very public, very print-driven breakup, we will never know. However, while Pope became the century’s most celebrated poet, Lady Mary only rarely made forays into print, instead circulating her often satirical and feminist poems in manuscript. Indeed, she became as celebrated a letter-writer as Pope was a poet, though largely posthumously--for participating in the public marketplace of print was generally speaking a masculine and unladylike activity, and to do it, one had to be very careful (lest you end up like Aphra Behn!). In addition to a variety of modern scholarly accounts, we will read poems and letters written by these two luminaries of the modern world, paying special attention to the the gendered forms through which they fashioned their public identities both in print and in manuscript. In keeping with this broad approach, our major projects may include writing wikipedia entries about Pope’s poems, recording a publically-accessible audiobook of correspondence between Pope and Lady Mary, or editing facsimile copies of the eighteenth-century originals using Typewright.

(see full outcomes below)

  1. Students will analyze and understand the transmission of thought through the complex ideas and structures of 18th century formal poetry in verse [dialectical journal, quizzes, term project]
  2. Students will respond to the intertwined work of two important Augustan writers in a way that reflects awareness of the historical context in which they were working, particularly the material context of authorship. [term project, accompanying essay, quizzes]
  3. Students will synthesize elements of the historical and ideological context with our poetic content to understand how 18th century writers engaged with the public sphere in embodied ways. [term project, final presentation, discussion, LOC visit]
  4. Students will connect their own work as writers to the writing lives of Pope and Montagu, particularly insofar as their work is collaborative, highly structured, and polished for public consumption [term project, workshopping, final presentation]

Required Texts

Please note: “Required” does mean required, as in you must have a copy that you can bring to class every day. You do not need to bring materials that we don’t have assigned reading in, but you may choose to do so as a responsible, energetic member participant in our intellectual discourse.  I have done a lot of work to PDF many articles and chapters so that you don’t have to purchase more books and so that they can be accessible to you in other formats; however, it is essential (ESSENTIAL) that we have the same materials, with the same pagination, and the same modernizations, if relevant, to work from. This is why I ask you to purchase the books--you can do so used--and have them for the first day of class to the last day of final exams. Please respect our classroom, me, your peers, and your own education by having these texts. If you need an accommodation of this requirement not documented with University Support Services, please speak with me so we can work something out that meets your educational needs and those of the class as a whole.

  1. Pope, Alexander and Pat Rogers. The Major Works. Oxford World’s Classics (2006). 9780199203611. *THIS IS ALSO A SHARED WRLC ELECTRONIC RESOURCE, IF YOU NEED ACCESS IN A PINCH. HOWEVER, THIS BOOK YOU MUST PURCHASE A HARD COPY OF TO BRING TO CLASS. See the statement above, please.

Suggested Texts

I will include excerpts from this text in our required readings, but I encourage you to purchase these books for yourself--often, they can be found used for quite little. The first offers a wonderfully clear and lucid (but reliable and scholarly) overview of 18th-century literature and culture. All of these texts should also be available in our library, on reserve.

  1. Spacks, Patricia. Reading Eighteenth-Century Poetry. Wiley-Blackwell (2009). 9781405153621. THIS TEXT IS AVAILABLE AS A RECOMMENDED PURCHASE FROM THE BOOKSTORE.
  2. Sussman, Charlotte. Eighteenth Century English Literature. John Wiley & Sons (2013). 9780745637204.
  3. Grundy, Isobel and Mary Wortley Montagu. Essays and Poems and Simplicity, a Comedy (1993). 9780198122883..

Please note that I will indicate assigned readings by author’s last name. If the text is not linked from the syllabus, it is in one of our required texts. If it is on the syllabus for our meeting, please bring a hard copy, with the annotations that you will, of course, have made, because you are interested in learning, right?


Inclusion. As a teacher, I am committed to ensuring that every one of us is able to participate fully in this class, both physically and ideologically. Because everyone learns in different ways, accommodations are always necessary, though they may take different shapes. In order to act on this commitment to full participation, I ask that we use inclusive language in all our work, both written and oral. I also encourage you to speak with me as soon as possible if you have specific learning needs documented with with Student Access Services ((703) 284-1538, Rowley G105). If you do not have a documented accommodation need, remember that other support services, including the writing and tutoring resources in the CTL, are available to all. I will make every effort to offer multiple ways of accessing our course materials, and all of our assignments and class activities will contain multiple registers of assessment--what I ask of you is that you do your best to have the materials, read them thoughtfully and actively, and bring them to class so we can discuss them. If you know of other special circumstances that might affect your performance in this class, please also come and talk to me--we can work together to figure out how to develop individual reading, writing, collaboration, participation, and study strategies that will help you succeed. [NB: language from this statement is adapted from multiple sources on the web by other faculty members]

Attendance is required; it is part, BUT NOT EVEN A MAJORITY, of your participation grade. Put this way: If you’re in class but don’t participate in a present and thoughtful manner, you will only receive partial credit for participation. See participation below for more details.

The 24-hour rule states that you must wait until at least 24 hours have passed--during which time you have read all my comments--to discuss a grade you have earned. It takes me a very long time to read and comment thoughtfully on your work, and your grades are not arbitrary; please take the time to read over my comments, the assignment sheet, and any grading rubrics before you come and discuss it with me. [NB: This policy is drawn from Theresa Braunschneider’s syllabi]

Food--if it smells, makes noise, or is otherwise disruptive (including making everyone else jealous that we’re not eating it!), please don’t bring it--this is part of our commitment to inclusivity. This is an evening class, and I understand you may get hungry; we’ll have a break half-way through, when you can eat a snack--or, have dinner before you come. Unless we as a class come to some other agreement!

Turning in things: everything should be turned in as specified as per my instructions--hard copies are the rule. I WILL NOT ACCEPT emailed assignments unless we have made prearrangements. Be sure everything you turn in is formatted in MLA style including headers, double-spacing, and works cited.  You do not need to put your WC on a new page if you have room on the previous page. Please print double-sided when possible, and always staple if necessary.

This is a writing intensive class, so be prepared to write. You should keep a notebook with observations and other thoughts; use the margins of your books to make notes about your reading; highlight things, underline, connect the dots--whatever helps you keep things in your memory! Good active reading habits are good active writing habits, and both will be essential in this class as eighteenth-century poetry is notoriously difficult.

All assignments are due as listed on the syllabus, unless we have come to a pre-arrangement in a timely fashion. If you know you need a little extra time, email  me asap; I may not be able to accommodate late requests, but I understand that we all have busy schedules. That having been said, if you do turn something in late, I will deduct ⅓ of a letter grade for each business day late, unless we have already come to an arrangement.

Technology: If you can use your computer while STILL HAVING PRINT MATERIALS AT YOUR DISPOSAL, and if you can use your computer WITHOUT SURFING THE WEB, BROWSING TWITTER OR FACEBOOK, etc., feel free to do so. In fact, we will be using technology quite frequently in this class, including blog posts and responses. Please be sure you have regular and reliable access to a computer with an Internet connection. If you need help with technology, schedule a meeting with me, talk to ITS, or ask a librarian for help!

Participation means both being in class AND actively, thoughtfully engaging with the class discussions and activities.  Your responses to peer blog posts are incorporated here, as are transcriptions and any minor quizzes or other in-class activities. I will give feedback on participation at specific points throughout the term, but if you have questions about it, please come and see me. Note that your dialectical journal is an excellent way to ensure that you have something interesting to talk about in class, too!

Extra credit is not something I usually give. If you turn in all your work for this class, even if you don’t receive high scores on them, you should pass. The most important thing is doing the work. However, you won’t be able to do the work if you don’t do the reading, so make sure you have time enough in your schedule to do the reading--this is difficult material, so start early, and develop good habits.

Grade Breakdown

Participation: 20% - See policy above; dialectical journal is included here.

Midterm and final essay quizzes: 25%

Term project: 30%

Term project drafting and workshopping: 15% * This is a writing-intensive (WI) class, and as such, participation in the writing process is essential.

Final presentation: 10%

Total: 100%


I will try to stay to this schedule, but it may change depending on class dynamics. It is VERY IMPORTANT that you inform yourself about the readings and assignments that are due each week! We will discuss the assigned readings due when they are noted in the schedule. This means that you must read ahead for our first class and come prepared to discuss the  readings assigned for that day.

Please have acquired your Library of Congress reader’s card by the end of January! We will be VISITING the Rare Books room at the LOC one Friday afternoon--while I cannot cancel a whole class for this, I will cancel half of one Tuesday class, as this will be a mandatory event. If you cannot attend, it will be your responsibility to visit the Rare Books room on your own and complete the accompanying assignment.

Tue Jan 13: Imagining the 18th Century Poet. Find and read biographical essays on Lady Mary Wortley Montagu and Alexander Pope, via Literature Online (LION), which you can access electronically through the library (Tip: go to the library’s website, select “articles & databases”, select “literature & language,” then select LION and do your search. Contact the library if you need help, and bring your essays in for me to see. Print double-sided.)  Find images: Use the Internet to find high-quality images of the following portraits, view them, and write a 1-to-2-page (typewritten) response to how AP and MWM are depicted.  You might consider the following questions: What is similar across the images? What is different? What strikes you as important about them as a whole--do you notice any patterns? What strikes you as important about particular paintings? Note that you should not write about the details of all of the images--there are too many! Instead, look for patterns and focus on one or two interesting details.

In class: Discuss biographies; view and discuss images; major themes and assignments. In-class look at a poem: “Rape of the Lock.” Doody. Dialectical journals.

This class meets only once a week--this means that you have to manage your time. How will you do that? This material is challenging, and you cannot do it 2 hours before class!


Tue Jan 20: Reading 18th Century Poetry. Read Pope, Rape of the Lock (I encourage you to find a good audio recording of the poem and read along with it, but remember that reading and writing are the foci of the class--I expect you will struggle with it, and that’s part of the point!) Deutsch, “Chapter 2” from Resemblance and Disgrace. Locate high-quality online illustrations of the poem by Aubrey Beardsley, as well as the original illustrations by Louis Du Guernier and Claude Du Bosc under AP’s direction. [Optional: Spacks, “Description in Verse” and “High Language and Low” from Reading Eighteenth-Century Poetry.]

Tue Jan 27:  Writing in Public: Topical Satire and (Mock) Forms. Read Stephanson, “Chapter 4: Pope and Male Literary Communities” in The Yard of Wit: Male Creativity and Sexuality; Read Pope, “Epistle to Arbuthnot” and “Rape of the Lock.”

Tue Feb 3: Writing in Public.  Read Haslett, “Introduction. Defining the Eighteenth-Century: Public Sphere Conversations” in Pope to Burney, 1714-1779: Scriblerians to Bluestockings. Read Montagu (and Pope?), Court Eclogues; read Montagu, “Epistle from Arthur G--y to Mrs M--y.”  [Optional: Swift, “A Town Eclogue”; Virgil, “Eclogue V” in English from Latin]. Editing Wikipedia (bring your laptop--if you can’t, contact me the week prior to class!)

Tue Feb 10: Shaping a Reading Public. Read Pope, Essay on Criticism; Hunter, “Couplets and Conversation” from Cambridge Companion to 18th Century Poetry. How do we shape a reading public? Editing OCR (bring your laptop--if you can’t bring a laptop, be sure to contact me the week prior to class!)

Need help with tech stuff? I can help! Just make an appointment with me via Starfish, or drop by.


Tue Feb 17: Of Writers, Readers, and Lovers. Read Pope, Elosia to Abelard AS YOU LISTEN TO the Librivox recording by Kristin Hughes; read Spacks, “Emotion in Verse” from Reading Eighteenth-Century Poetry. Read letters: AP to MWM Twickenham 18th August 1716; AP to MWM, “If to live in the memory of others have anything desirable in it…”; MWM to Pope, Adrianople 1 April 1717; AP to MWM, 1 September 1718; MWM to AP, Dover, 1 November 1718;  MWM to Edward Wortley Montagu 28th March 1710; to EWM 26 Feb 1711; to EMW 15 August, 1712 (eve of elopement); to EMW 22 October 1712 (first after marriage). [Converse of the Pen?] Librivox recording workshop: AP to MWM.

Tue Feb 24: Writing the Larger World. Read Sussman, excerpts from “Trade and Travel” in Eighteenth-Century English Literature.  Read Pope, “Windsor Forest” and “Epistle to Bathhurst”; Turkish Embassy Letters, MWM to the Lady Rich, Adrianople 1 April 1717; to Countess of Mar, Adrianople, 1 April 1717. In class: discussion of above; the cosmopolitanism of The Rape of the Lock; excerpts from Said and Aravamudan. Distribute take-home midterm exam (essay-based).

* Tentative: Friday afternoon, we will meet at the front entrance of the Library of Congress--be there by 4:30 pm. Be sure you have your Reader’s card! Carry only your wallet and a notepad. You can bring your phone/camera, but the coat check will be closed when we visit--if you check anything, you will not be able to retrieve it after leaving! (I speak from experience…)

Tue Mar 3: Poet as Thinker. Pope, Essay on Man. Vendler, “Alexander Pope Thinking: Miniaturizing, Modeling, and Mocking Ideas” from Poets Thinking: Pope, Whitman, Dickinson, Yeats. Open book midterm quiz due (Essay on Man will not be covered, but you will still be completing the in-class activities and revised blog post on it). Library Work.

Tue Mar 10: Spring Break. Read your research and prepare your revised proposal/annotated bibliography--use google drive to help you collaborate.

Tue Mar 17: Writing and the Public Sphere: Debating Women. Proposal and annotated bibliography of 5 sources due. Read excerpts from Sussman, “Print Culture and the Public Sphere” from Eighteenth-Century Literature (41-49). Read Addison, The Spectator 561 (Wednesday, June 30, 1714); Montagu, The Spectator 573 (Wednesday, July 28, 1714) on widows; Pope, “Epistle II: To a Lady”; Montagu, “Epistle from Mrs Y--- to her Husband”

Tue Mar 24: Writing and the Public Sphere, Continued: Satiric Exchanges. Read Pope, “First Satire of the Second Book of Horace, Imitated”; Montagu, “To the Imitator of the First Satire of the Second Book of Horace, Imitated”; Swift, “The Lady’s Dressing Room”; Montagu, “The Reasons that Induced Dr. S--- to Write a Poem Call’d, ‘The Lady’s Dressing Room’”; read Spacks, “Alexander Pope and Mary Wortley Montagu” from Reading Eighteenth-Century Poetry.

We’re nearing the end of the term--have you checked in on your grade? How is your research going?
Why don’t you stop by for a chat?

Tue Mar 31: Reputation, Authorship, Posterity. Draft of term project due. Read Pope, excerpts from The Dunciad; Hess, “‘Books and the Man’: Alexander Pope, Print Culture, and Authorial Self-Making.” In class: Workshopping.

* Tentative: Friday afternoon, we will meet at the front entrance of the Library of Congress--be there by 4:30 pm. Be sure you have your Reader’s card! Carry only your wallet and a notepad. You can bring your phone/camera, but the coat check will be closed when we visit--if you check anything, you will not be able to retrieve it after leaving! (I speak from experience…)

Tue Apr 7: Poetic Self-Fashioning. Read Ezell, “The Changing Culture of Authorship and the History of the Book.” Read Pope, preface to The Letters of Mr. Alexander Pope; Montagu on Pope’s self-published letters. Workshopping.

Tue Apr 14: Historicizing (and Gendering) the Canon. Final quiz (essay-based; bring one type-written sheet of notes). Woolf, Ezell on posthumous publication. Workshopping.

Exam Week: Revised term project due; presentation.

Selected Additional Materials

Backsheider, Paula. Eighteenth-Century Women Poets and Their Poetry: Inventing Agency, Inventing Genre.

Doody, Margaret. The Daring Muse.

Deutsch, Helen. Resemblance and Disgrace.

The Cambridge Companion to Eighteenth-Century Poetry

The Cambridge Companion to English Literature, 1660-1740 

The Cambridge Companion to Alexander Pope

Ezell, Margaret. Writing Women's Literary History.

Haslett, Moyra. Pope to Burney, 1714-1779: Scriblerians to Bluestockings.

Lowenthal, Cynthia. Lady Mary Wortley Montagu and the Eighteenth-Century Familiar Letter.


Backsheider and Ingrassia, eds. Companion to the Eighteenth-Century English Novel and Culture. 

Sussman, Eighteenth Century English Literature, 1660-1789.

Rogers, Pat, ed.. The Cambridge Companion to Alexander Pope (2007). 978-0521549448.

Rogers, Pat.  The Alexander Pope Encyclopedia (2004). 978-0313324260. SHARED WRLC ELECTRONIC RESOURCE

Major Assignments

Dialectical Journal: This term, you’ll be keeping a dialectical response journal to help you prepare for the class meeting and develop your skills of close reading poetry. Your dialectical journal should be in a separate notebook, and it must be hand-written (see note below). You’ll have two columns--on the left, your quotation/transcription, and on the right, your response.  For each class period, I will ask you to contribute three entries into your journal, coupled with a response to each particular passage you have transcribed. On the left hand side of the journal, keep your quotations, and on the right-hand side, your response.  This is a major part of your participation grade (see grade breakdown, below).

Quotations: On the left-hand side of the page, transcribe two key quotations (each between 6-10 lines) from the assigned primary reading for the day, and one brief passage from the critical reading assigned up to that point in the term, of your choice, into your dialectical journal. If we are working with non-poetic primary texts that day, simply select two key quotations from whatever primary source reading is assigned, of an approximate length.  Try to select passages that you feel are important or interesting in some specific way--you might consider whether they offer some insight into the topics discussed in the secondary readings, passages that are particularly rich in imagery, passages that are important for the larger theme of the poem, or passages that are challenging for you--passages you want to sink your teeth into and really understand.  

Response: On the right-hand side of the journal, enter your assessment of the passage. Your assessment should have three parts. First, respond to the passage--what struck you about it, how did it make you feel or what thoughts did it arouse in you, what interested you, why did you choose the passage?  You can also connect the passage to something else you’re reading or have read, whether in this class or another, or outside of class entirely. Then, question the passage--what do you have meaningful questions about? Are there things in the passage that seem to conflict with other elements in the passage? What challenges you about it? What kinds of questions does it seem to be asking you? Finally, analyze the passage--what does it seem to be saying or suggesting? What is it suggesting about the larger world, about a larger idea? What do you notice about the parts of the quotation, its imagery or structure or language? It’s okay if you don’t have “the” answer--there probably isn’t one! What’s important here is that you engage materially with the text in significant ways. If your only question is about a definition, then you’ll want to find another passage or look more deeply--and check out the Oxford English Dictionary (web: LIBRARY/ARTICLES & DATABASES/LITERATURE & LANGUAGE/OXFORD ENGLISH DICTIONARY)!

Important Note: I do not ask you to type this material. Rather, I want you to write it out by hand, in pen, with any cross-outs or corrections fully visible. The reason? This is a course that is about writing, and writing in an era long before personal computers! Writing was hard, and it was done long-hand. I want you to get some small sense of what this feels like, first; also, I want you to take time over your reading, look closely at the details of word choice, syntax, line breaks, and punctuation. Writing this out by hand (NOT COPYPASTA) is an excellent way to go about learning something of how the writers of this time period worked.

Midterm and Final Quizzes: These assignments are meant to test your ability to synthesize the material we have learned; they will either be open book or I will ask you to prepare a study guide that you may use for the in-class assignment.

Term Project: The term project for this class is team-based (let’s think of them as clubs, as the eighteenth century is a most “clubbable” era!), but you will be responsible for your own work. That is, your  teams will be organized around the option you choose to complete, so that you can offer feedback on methodology and research. You should use your fellow club members as resources to help you when you have questions and need constructive feedback.

Term Project Presentation: Your club--consider what kind of name you’ll give your club!--will present as a group on the day of the scheduled final exam time. Each club’s presentation should be no longer than 30 minutes, and no shorter than 15 minutes. In your presentation, you should:

University-wide Liberal Arts Core, Advanced Literature, and Writing Intensive Outcomes

This course is part of a larger, university-wide system of education, and as such, it seeks to fulfill certain outcomes--those are as follows:

Core General Learning Outcomes: Skills
Analysis, Critical Reasoning, and Problem-Solving [all literature courses]

Core General Learning Outcomes: Attitudes

Aesthetic Appreciation [all literature courses]

Advanced Literature Core Outcomes:  300 and 400-level courses

Students will

Writing Intensive Course Outcomes

Students will