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Literature I
ENGL 200
MWF 10:30-11:20 in GRIS 126

Instructor: Aidan Holtan Office: HEAV 207A
Email: Office Hours: Wednesday 1:00-2:00
or by appointment

This survey course will cover British literature from the seventh century through
the early seventeenth century. As we read, the class will be encouraged to question
how identity is formed and performed within the texts. The question of identity will
be engaged on both an individual level (Margery Kempe, for instance, has her Book
of Margery Kempe written in large part to help transform her identity as mother and
wife into that of a saint) but also on a national level. That is, what makes a text
British? And, moreover, how does identifying a text as quintessentially British help
shape our understanding of Britain as a whole?

Students who complete this class will be able to:
• Situate literature within its historical, political and cultural contexts.
• Identify the stylistic and formal elements of poetry and prose up to the early
seventeenth century, and analyze how authors used these elements to shape
their text.
• Identify major themes of each period and articulate how these themes
change (or not!) over time.
• Compose brief, focused literary analyses that are well supported by evidence
from the text.

Required Text:
The Norton Anthology of British Literature Vol. 1, 9th ed. (ISBN: 978-0-393-91247-0)

Midterm: 25%
Final: 30%
Quizzes: 15%
Essays: 30%

In this class, we will have an in-class midterm on Wednesday of Week 7 and a final
exam in Week 15 (date and time TBA). Both exams are comprehensive and will
address material covered in the readings and during class discussion.

We will also have regular quizzes throughout the semester (dates will be announced
in class). These quizzes are designed to test your comprehension of the material,
and will contain a combination of short answer and identification questions.

Students will compose three close readings (3-5 pages) over the course of the
semester. Each essay is worth 10%, for a total of 30% of your final grade. The
assignment sheet and rubrics for your essays can be found on the course
Blackboard, and we will discuss the papers well in advance of their due dates
(Weeks 4, 10, and 14).

This schedule is subject to change. If a change is made to the policies or syllabus, you
will be notified on the course website and by email. All readings listed are due that
day in class. Please come prepared to discuss.

Old English Literature
Week 1
M Introduction to the course
W Historical Context: Old English Literature
Read: the introduction to the “Middle Ages” section of your textbook
F The Wanderer and The Seafarer

Week 2
M Dream of the Rood
W Beowulf
F Beowulf

Week 3
M Beowulf finish
W Bede and Cædmon’s Hymn
F Historical Context: Middle English Literature

Middle English Literature
Week 4
M Geoffrey of Monmouth: History of the Kings of Britain
W Introduction: Chaucer
Read: Canterbury Tales Prologue and Retraction
F Canterbury Tales Wife of Bath’s Prologue and Tale
Due: Essay 1

Week 5
M Introduction: Margery Kempe
W The Book of Margery Kempe Book 1.1-1.28

F The Book of Margery Kempe Book 1.35-end

Week 6
M Introduction: Sir Thomas Malory
W Morte Darthur “The Conspiracy Against Lancelot and Guinevere” and “War
Breaks Out Between Arthur and Lancelot”
F Morte Darthur “The Death of Arthur” and “The Deaths of Lancelot and

Week 7
M Review
W Midterm
F Historical Context: Sixteenth Century
Read: the introduction to the “Sixteenth Century” section of your textbook

Sixteenth Century
Week 8
M Elizabeth I
Read: “From: The Passage of Our Most Dread Sovereign Lady Queen
Elizabeth…,” “Speech to the Troops at Tilbury,” and “The ‘Golden Speech’”
W Sir Thomas More: Utopia
F Sir Thomas More: Utopia

Week 9
M Introduction: Edmund Spenser
W The Faerie Queene
F The Faerie Queene

Week 10
M Sir Walter Raleigh
Read: “The Nymph’s Reply to the Shepherd,” “Methought I saw the grave
where Laura lay” and “The Author’s Epitaph, Made by Himself”
W Sir Philip Sidney
Read: “The Defense of Poesy”
F Christopher Marlowe
Read: “Hero and Leander” and “The Passionate Shepherd to his Love”
Due: Essay 2

The Early Seventeenth Century
Week 11
M Historical Context: Seventeenth Century
Read: the introduction to the “Early Seventeenth Century” section of your
W John Donne
Read: “The Flea,” “The Good Morrow,” “Holy Sonnet 5” and “Holy Sonnet 14”

F Mary Wroth, The Countess of Montgomery’s Urania

Week 12
M Historical Context: Jacobean Drama
W The Duchess of Malfi Act 1
F The Duchess of Malfi Act 2

Week 13
M The Duchess of Malfi Act 3
W The Duchess of Malfi Act 4
F The Duchess of Malfi Act 5

Week 14
M “Reporting the News”
W Milton
Read: From Areopagitica
F Course Review
Due: Essay 3

Week 15
F Final Exam

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