Brief Description of Course: This course surveys literature written in the British Isles from the earliest poetry in English to the late 17th century. Spanning almost a thousand years, the texts we will read in this course display an astonishing breadth of forms, genres, and styles. We will read heroic epics, bawdy tales, allegorical romance, utopian prose, religious drama, love sonnets, and scientific poetry, including both famous works and those less well known today. While the course will focus on developing strategies for reading, appreciating, and interpreting a variety of premodern texts, we will also be attentive to history, both to the changing trends in literary writing over time and to the ways literature responded to the political, social, and religious contexts in which they were written. We will also give special consideration to the ways we define “literature” and the implications those definitions have on our objects of study.
Required Reading: Stephen Greenblatt, gen. ed., The Norton Anthology of English Literature, 10th ed. (New York: W.W. Norton, 2018). Volumes A, B, and C.
First Three Authors/Texts: Beowulf; Judith; Marie de France.
Method of Instruction: Lecture and tutorial.Method of Evaluation: Short essays, exam, tutorial participation.