Intro to Lit: Lit & Culture

The subtitle of this course is THREE CLASSIC TEXTS AND THEIR
MODERN RETELLINGS.  We will read three
acknowledged masterpieces of English literature and pair them up with modern
retellings of them. To the earliest surviving Anglo-Saxon epic, Beowulf (c. 900 AD), we will add John
Gardiner’s Grendel (1989), the
Beowulf saga told from the monster’s point of view. To Shakespeare’s most
celebrated tragedy, Hamlet (1601), we
will add Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and
Guildenstern Are Dead
(1966), the Hamlet story told from the point of view
of two minor characters. To Charlotte Bronte’s great Victorian novel,  Jane
(1847), we will add Wide
Sargasso Sea
(1966), Jean Rhys’s version of what happens to Bronte’s “madwoman
in the attic” before she becomes a character in Jane Eyre.

–Exposure to three genres of literature: poetry, drama, and

–Increased awareness of the continuities and changes in
literary styles and cultural values over a thousand year span

–Improved analytical and critical thinking skills through
multiple writing assignments and in-class discussions

Required Texts

Beowulf: A New Verse
, Seamus Heaney

Grendel, John

Hamlet: The Oxford
, William Shakespeare

Rosencrantz and
Guildenstern Are Dead
, Tom Stoppard

Jane Eyre,
Charlotte Bronte

Wide Sargasso Sea,
Jean Rhys

Course Requirements

–2,000 words of formal writing, achieved through a number
of different varieties of writing assignments: critical, analytical, and
research essays, ranging in length from three to five pages.

–Mid-term and final exams