Our winter quarter starts a week from Monday. In addition to muhy5 course on Lesbian & Gay lit, I’ll be teaching a graduate seminar on Restoration literature (1660-1688). I’m really looking forward to it — I’ve never taught a graduate class just on this period.

When I started thinking about the class, I immediately wanted to organize it around a chapter from Judith Bennett‘s new book, History Matters: Patriarchy and the Challenge of Feminism. Most of the book is more suited to historians, but the chapter on “Patriarchal Equilibrium” will offer us an interesting way into the literary texts that we’ll be studying. It discusses definitions of patriarchy and talks about a model for analyzing patriarchal structures from a feminist point of view.

After I chose the theme, historicizing patriarchy, I had to start choosing literary texts, of course. I especially want to introduce my students to female poets in the period. I also decided to order Blackwell’s anthology of Restoration drama, which is kind of expensive. Due to the cost, I quickly decided that I would need to assign as much as possible from that text in order to justify the expense. It feels a little weird to let the book order dictate the reading list, but in many ways that happens all the time so it’s nothing really new. Originally I had thought about ordering no textbooks and having the class just read everything online, but I was quickly convinced not to do that by PJ and other colleagues — all of whom thought I was crazy.

I also made another momentous decision: to start with Milton‘s Paradise Lost. I’m hoping that this will set up the patriarchal tradition for us, even if Milton wasn’t exactly a typical patriarch (or at least he wasn’t typical of some Restoration political theory that equated the family patriarch with the national one, the king). In order to make room on the syllabus for other things, I ended up asking my students to read part of the poem (along with the Bennett chapter) before the class started. We’ll therefore be jumping into the poem right away.