Departmental Papers (English)

Penn English is a vibrant intellectual community with an internationally renowned faculty, a highly selective graduate program, and a thriving undergraduate program. Our distinguished research faculty work across a full range of fields, materials, and approaches: from Medieval Studies to Contemporary Poetics; Book History and Digital Humanities; and theories of Gender and Sexuality, Race and Transnationalism, Empire and Globalization. Beyond the classroom, a wide array of working groups devoted to these fields brings together faculty, students, and visiting scholars. In research and teaching, we balance inventive and traditional methodologies, new and old media, close reading and big data, small seminars and worldwide MOOCs.



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  • Publication
    (2016-01-01) Foy, Anna M
    Eighteenth-century epic is often said to have declined after Milton’s accomplishments in Paradise Lost. Because no major eighteenth-century poets wrote sober, “original,” formal verse epics, the period is envisioned as an emblematic instance of generic death. This chapter argues for a reappraisal. After noting recent challenges to this understanding of the genre and the period, I propose an alternate vision of the epic’s Restoration and eighteenth-century development. The period saw not a “decline” of epic but a consequential shift in how the genre was understood: from a notion of epic based on Virgil (epic as a “heroic” handbook for princes) to an understanding of epic centered on Homer (epics as lofty portraits of primitive, distant cultures). This transition informed translations and imitations, sober-spirited poems and mock-heroics, verse and prose pieces, and critical commentaries. Throughout the period, however, the epic remained closely associated with meditations on British “manners.”