Jonathan Swift's Major Works - EN51033

Quick Facts

  • Postgraduate
  • 40 Credits
  • Semester 1 or Semester 2
  • English - School of Humanities
  • Coursework 100%
  • New module for 2016/7.

Module Details

“Such Order from Confusion sprung,

Such gaudy Tulips rais'd from Dung.”

(Jonathan Swift, ‘The Lady’s Dressing Room’)


This module examines the major works of arguably the leading satirist ever to run riot in the English language, the Irish poet and prose writer, the Rev. Dr. Jonathan Swift, D. D., Dean of St Patrick’s Cathedral. Across a long and public career in print Swift experimented with a range of genres and modes, from Juvenalian satire to self-elegy, the Horatian ode to duncical parody. In addition to close readings of his works, we will engage with competing trends in Swift’s critical and popular reception up to and including the present day. Chiefly remembered as the author of Gulliver’s Travels (1726) and A Modest Proposal (1729), Swift’s other works also merit close scrutiny. What has been the legacy of M. B. Drapier, Swift’s Hibernian Patriot, or his faux-scholar Isaac Bickerstaff? What influence has the biting religious parable A Tale of a Tub (1704) had on other writers? How might we respond to his shockingly scatological poetry today?


Dr Daniel Cook


The module will be taught by seminar, with the support of an office hour.


Coursework (100%) consisting of:

  • a reading journal comprising short weekly extracts (30%)
  • a research essay of not more than 5,000 words (70%)


Jonathan Swift's:

  • The Battle of the Books (1697)
  • A Tale of a Tub (1704)
  • selected poems (1706-39)
  • The Drapier's Letters (1724-5) [selection]
  • Gulliver's Travels (1726)
  • A Modest Proposal (1729)


We will use one text book, Swift's Major Works, ed. Woolley and Ross (Oxford University Press), and an edition of Gulliver's Travels (Penguin or Oxford UP). 


Access the online reading list system

Module Aims

The aims of this module will:

  • examine the major works of a leading eighteenth-century author;
  • trace the development of Swift's writing in different modes, both poetry and prose;
  • examine a range of genres, from satire to the self-elegy;
  • explore Swift's critical and popular reception up to and including the present day.

Intended learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding of:

  1. Swift's major works;
  2. comparing and contrasting Swift's works in different modes and genres;
  3. capacity to reflect on the function and expectations associated with established and new genres;
  4. skills in identifying and critically engaging with key Swift scholars.