British Literature before 1800

ENGL 2006
May 2010

Brief Description of Course

This course surveys British literature from the Anglo-Saxon period to the eighteenth century. Its intention is to provide students with a framework for understanding such period courses in third year as ENGL 3045, 3095, 3146, 3147, 3175, and 3505. This framework is established by studying the major periods of literary history and the development of various genres in changing historical contexts. The course builds on ENGL 1105/1106/1107 by focusing on the close critical analysis of poetry and prose and by emphasizing the critical contexts for interpretation. In addition, ENGL 2006 introduces the research and bibliographic skills necessary for further work in the discipline of English Studies.

Required Texts

Recommended Texts


5%  first testMay 12, 11:00 a.m.
5%  library assignmentdue May 14
10%  first essaydue May 17
10%  second testMay 21, 9:15 a.m.
10%  critical essay assignmnetdue May 26
15%  second essaydue May 31
35%  final examJune 1 or June 2
10%  preparation and participation


Plagiarism will not be tolerated. All assignments are subject to an additional written or oral test, at the instructor’s discretion. All suspected plagiarism will be reported to the chair of the department, the dean of the faculty, and the registrar of the university. The instructor requests that the students submit both of the two essays to to help deter and control plagiarism.


All assignments are due in class. All assignments may be submitted up to two days late without penalty. After that, there will be a 3%/day (including weekend days) penalty on all assignments. No assignment will be accepted after the start of the final exam.

Preparation and Participation

You are expected to participate in class in an informed manner. At the very least, you are expected to come to class regularly, having read all assigned reading for that class. Ideally, you will have thought about the reading, taken notes on the reading, and have prepared opinions on and notes and questions about the reading. Ideally, you will participate in class discussions. Keep in mind that participating in class is usually a highly rewarding experience, greatly enhancing your ability to understand the course material and helping ensure your success in the course. Everyone is expected to be courteous and professional at all times in class.

Office Hours and Contact

Office hours will be Mondays and Wednesdays, from 1:00 to 3:00. Please feel free to come to my office during these office hours: no appointment is needed. If you cannot make it to my office hours, you can request meeting me at another time, and I will do my best to arrange something with you.

Please feel free to email me. To assist me, please place ENGL 2006 at the start of the subject line. You may have to wait a day or two for an answer: please do not email me requests that need to be answered immediately. Note also that if I think an email response will take too much time or will not adequately address the complexity of the issue raised, I will respond by requesting you meet with me during office hours to discuss the issue.

Class schedule (subject to change)

May 3Introduction
Taliesin, “The War-Band’s Return”
May 5Beowulf, III
“Wulf and Eadwacer”
“The Wife’s Lament”
May 7“Judith”
“The Dream of the Rood”
“The Wanderer”
May 10Chaucer, “The Nun’s Priest’s Tale”
May 12Library research
In-class test
May 14“The Cuckoo Song”
“Abuse of Women”
“Adam Lay Ibounden”
“I Sing of a Maiden”
Library assignment due
May 17Sidney, “The Apology for Poetry” (selections)
Spencer, Amoretti, 75
Sidney, Astrophil and Stella, 1
Shakespeare, Sonnets, 18
Shakespeare, Sonnets, 20
Wroth, Pamphilia to Amphilanthus, 39
First essay due
May 19Donne, “The Sun Rising”
Marvell, “The Garden”
Herbert, “The Collar”
May 21Milton, Paradise Lost, Book 1
In-class test
May 26Behn, “The Disappointment”
Swift, “The Lady”s Dressing Room”
Swift, Gulliver’s Travels, Part 4 (selections)
Critical essay assignment due
May 28Pope, The Rape of the Lock
May 31Hogarth, A Rake’s Progress
Cowper, “The Cast-away”
Gray, “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard”
Second essay due