Intro to Lit: Literary History (British Lit to 1660)

This course introduces students to a selection of literature
representative of cultural trends in British history.  The readings will follow a historical sequence,
from the early oral epic, Beowulf,
through a series of engaging and significant works, tracing the trends in British
socio-historical evolution from its pagan roots to the spread of imperialism,
and the related themes of mercantilism and slavery.  The growth of urban life and the emergence of
a “middle class” will also be explored. 
As we read, we’ll consider how increase in literacy had its own
influence on the growing literary production in England, and what works were
valued and validated over the centuries by the spreading reading populous.


  • Beowulf, trans. Seamus Heaney
  • Lanval by Marie de France (Handout)
  • The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer (Excerpts, online)
  • The Tempest  by William
    Shakespeare (Text ordered through Revolution Books)
  • Oroonoko by Aphra Behn (Ordered through Revolution Books)
  • Paradise Lost by John Milton (Excerpts as Handout or online)

Evaluation (Ratio toward final grade in parantheses):

·Three 3-4 page long essays (w/ one possible
rewrite) (40% avg.)

·Midterm and Final Exam (In-class/take-home essay
portions for both) (MT 15%/Final 20%)

·Miscellaneous in-class writing assignments or reading
quizzes (15% avg.)

·Participation (10%)

·Attendance will also be factored into the final
course grade in terms of a designated number of absences before semester grade
is affected.