Department of English

University of Toronto

ENG385H1F L0101

ENG385H1F L0101 MW 9-12
History of the English Language
M. Sergi
Office Location: Jackman Humanities Building, Room 812

Brief Description of Course: ENG 385 will hone students’ mastery of present-day language standards by examining key moments in the historical development of those language standards: how they have been controlled, preserved, described, prescribed, proscribed, or rejected. Who has the authority over the rules of the language in which we write and speak? Who makes the judgment about what is standard, proper, established, important, or significant? Does good English always facilitate communication, or can it sometimes oppress or exclude? Can bad English do the opposite? Consider: the way we are taught to write is linked to, even synonymous with, the way we think.

While we will often draw on literature for examples of the language in development, this is not a course about literature; rather, we will focus primarily on the language itself. There will be no essays assigned in this course; instead, there will be quizzes, exams, and likely some light presentations of original student-driven research. Students will be expected to treat their own Englishes—and each other’s—as subjects of study, allowing us to better understand by the end of the semester not only how English ended up looking and sounding the way it does, but also what English actually looks and sounds like.

Required Reading: A course textbook (TBA) and selected readings from World Englishes (academic journal)

Method of Evaluation: ***There will be no essays assigned in this course***; instead, there will be quizzes, exams, and light presentations of original student-driven research.

Mid-course Quiz (12.5%); final exam (25%); in-class case study presentation (17.5%); weekly problem sets (20%); engagement and participation in class discussions (15%); actual attendance of at least 80% of scheduled class sessions (10%).

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