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ENG4U Notes on the Restoration and the 18th Century by X7WD8Y04

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									                                 The Restoration and the
                                   Eighteenth Century
                                       1660–1785

INTRODUCTION TO THE PERIOD

The complicated religious and political history of the years 1660 to 1785
poses a stumbling block, but the literature embraces the details of religion, politics,
philosophy, and cultural events as it does for no other era, and so it is necessary to
have at least a cursory understanding of them.

The Public Sphere and Civil Society
Representations of politeness, sociability, urban growth and development, gender
relations in public spaces, domestic tourism and travel, theatre, coffeehouses, libraries,
and salon respond to demographic changes in the shift to urban
centers like London or spa cities like Bath and Bristol, the beginnings of
a shift away from dominant rural life, as well as a rapid population
growth. They also take up discussion of philosophical questions about human
nature and proper behavior in civil society. The public sphere of coffeehouses
and theatres provided the space for a community to share information and develop
codes of politeness to govern their interactions. Men and women shared these spaces
and negotiated various terms of power and pleasure within them.

Authorship and Literacy: New Readers, New Writers, New Forms
With the tremendous rise in literacy that occurred in the seventeenth
century, more readers began to demand more material to read. The burgeoning
book industry filled the need, and new writers became gainfully
employed in the marketplace of ideas. New writers such as women, middle- and
laboring-class writers, and non-white authors take up the pen and participate in the
republic of letters. New literary forms such as the periodical essay, literary criticism,
satire and the novel emerge.

Explorations in Science and Nature
Dramatic developments in science spurred by Bacon, Boyle, Newton,
and others set the background for a culture of curiosity and intense observation
of the natural world. Not surprisingly, such findings lead to questions
about the role of human beings in nature and the universe, which of
course intersected with the heated religious controversies of the seventeenth
century. Enlightenment thinkers placed humankind at the center
of their investigation but debated the significance of “man” and his rational
capacities. Cartesian dualism provided the philosophical grounding
for a mind-body split that authorized the rational and spiritual subordination
of the passions. However, it was Locke’s empirical views of human
understanding and the role of the senses that came to dominate in the
eighteenth century. The literature of the period nonetheless attests to the
fervor surrounding the investigation of fundamental ideas of cognition,
sense, understanding, and the world at large.

Politics of the Individual
The political upheavals of the seventeenth century led to the establishment
of partisan politics that divided along fairly clear lines by the early
decades of the eighteenth century. Tories were associated with landed
wealth, Anglicanism, and the monarchy, and Whigs were associated with
trade, commerce, low-church dissenters, and progressive reform. The
question of proper authority was key to both. Locke’s contract theory of
government assumed that all men were born free and exchanged their liberty
for a safe, civil society headed by a legitimate authority. It soon became
clear that only certain men, namely white, property-owning men of
education, were free and that women, children, laborers, and slaves did
not have the ability to make contracts. Thus literature of the period investigates the
troubled emergence of the individual in discourses on slavery and marriage. The
political discourses also inspired new expressions of autonomy, as seen in the
emergence of evangelicalism - which authorizes individual experiences of religious
salvation - as well as new forms such as biography, which narrates the development of
an identity. Other works, such as those focusing on the noble savage or primitive
literatures, recall an idealized state of nature and grace antecedent to civilization.

								
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