The Libertine Moment

Subject 106-417 (2009)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2009. Search for this in the current handbook

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 4 (Undergraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2009:

Semester 2, - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period not applicable
Assessment Period End not applicable
Last date to Self-Enrol not applicable
Census Date not applicable
Last date to Withdraw without fail not applicable

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: A 2-hour seminar per week
Total Time Commitment: Not available

Usually admission to the postgraduate diploma or fourth year honours in English, see Honours entry

Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge: None
Non Allowed Subjects: None
Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the Disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Student Support and Engagement Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Overview, Learning Outcomes, Assessment and Generic Skills sections of this entry.

It is University policy to take all reasonable steps to minimise the impact of disability upon academic study, and reasonable adjustments will be made to enhance a student's participation in the University's programs. Students who feel their disability may impact on meeting the requirements of this subject are encouraged to discuss this matter with a Faculty Student Adviser and Student Equity and Disability Support:


Dr Justin Dominic Clemens


Justin Clemens

Subject Overview:

This subject examines libertinism as a social and literary formation at the court of Charles II (1660-1685) through the exemplary figure of the Earl of Rochester. An influential courtier and nobleman as well as a witty and obscene poet, Rochester's scandalous life and celebrated death established his period as the libertine moment. We will examine a range of Rochester's own writings as well as his dramatic incarnation as the "restoration rake" in the plays of Wycherley and Etherege. By contrast Dryden and Behn illustrate the development in this period of the "professional" writer in their production of a large output of commercially successful writings across many genres. We will cover the philosophical pretexts of libertinism in the work of Hobbes as well as two principal historical moments (the Restoration of Charles II in 1660 and the events of the Popish plot and Exclusion crisis from 1679-81) where libertinism takes on a specific political force. Students who successfully complete this subject will be familiar with the central philosophical, political and literary forms of libertinism and will have learnt how to analyse key literary texts by Rochester, Dryden and Behn in the context of a range of Restoration writing.


An essay of 5000 words 100% (due in the examination period).

Prescribed Texts:

A subject reader will be available.

  • Love-Letters between a Nobleman and His Sister (A Behn), Penguin.
  • Selected Poems (J Dryden), Penguin.
  • Poems (Rochester), Blackwell.
  • The Broadview Anthology of Restoration and Early Eighteenth-Century Drama, Broadview.
Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:
  • be able to apply new research skills and critical methods to a field of inquiry;

  • be able to develope critical self-awareness and shape and strengthen persuasive arguments;

  • be able to communicate arguments and ideas effectively and articulately, both in writing and to others.

Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: English

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