Thoughts on The Rape of the Lock at 300

angels in machines

[These were my remarks on a roundtable on “The Rape of the Lock at 300,” MLA 2014, Chicago, IL, which met this past weekend. The panel was organized by Catherine Elizabeth Ingrassia (Virginia Commonwealth) and included Nicole Horejsi (Columbia), Matthew Reilly (UT Austin), and John Richetti (UPenn). I wish I could share the entire conversation, which was terrific, but this is all I have in readily sharable form.]

My sense is that many of us who write about and teach The Rape of the Lock these days focus on how “modern” the poem seems, even as the figure of Pope remains defiantly archaic. Teaching the poem in an undergraduate survey at the University of Arkansas some years ago, I was astonished to find that my students initially did not find it funny, or even interesting. In an attempt to win them over, I threw myself with athletic enthusiasm into…

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