This is a course about literature written in Great Britain from 1660 to 1800. Our emphasis this semester will be on the theater, both as actual site of performance and as a metaphor for relationships between people. In the course of the eighteenth century, Britons became aware of the degree to which everyday life could be considered to be a kind of performance, and society a kind of theater. In the course of the semester, we will be reading three great eighteenth-century plays; just as importantly, we will be attending to the possibilities, limits, desires, and anxieties provoked by the period's realization that we may be performing as much as inhabiting our selves. Because we are heirs to the eighteenth-century's patterns of writing and thinking, the implications of this realization still reverberate today.