ENG457H1F: Suggestions for major paper/seminar subjects

(you’ll have to narrow them into a 1770s topic)


This list is a work-in-progress. I keep adding to it, so keep checking it (and let me know if there are subjects you’re interested in that aren’t represented here).


I can and will help you identify how to start thinking about your research. My giant database of book reviews, for instance, has furnished me with some of these general subjects. I also like The New Cambridge Bibliography of English Literature. Vol. 2: 1660-1800: it's got sections about "Travel" (listing books published through the period, arranged by place), "Sport", "Dictionaries and glossaries" (e.g. The sportsman's dictionary 1778), "Philosophy" (lots of linguistic philosophy going on), "Economic theory", "Science" (Joseph Priestley's written on electricity, optics, air...). You can also use Jack Lynch's C18th Chronology to get ideas (e.g. about contemporary developments in politics, technology, science). Paul Langford's A polite and commercial people, on short-term loan, is very useful for getting a sense of the cultural and historical background.

A Chronological English Dictionary, ed. Thomas Finkenstaedt et al. (Heidelberg: Carl Winter, 1970) is a great starting point: why not write a paper about all the words/uses listed as "new" for a particular year?


Representing society

The spoken language

The written language



Varieties of English

Language and physical identity: age, sex

Language and social identity/variation: gender

Language and geographical, ethnic, national identity




Language and contextual variation


Other languages and English


Word Studies

Use Chadwyck-Healey’s Literature Online: works published between 1770 and 1780: