The goal of this course is to introduce some of the major authors and literary works of English literature from the earliest known surviving Old English (Anglo-Saxon) texts (ca. 600 a.d.) through the 18th century, and to the political, social, and cultural events and influences that shaped the writers and their work. It is not now nor has it ever been a simple matter to determine what constitutes a “major” author or a “major” literary work. Any survey course necessarily neglects far more material than it includes, and the selection of readings is always informed by political, social, and pedagogical influences. Ultimately, the readings selected will create a particular picture of literary history for the student; different readings would paint a rather different picture. In this course we will, to some extent, consider this problem by reading works that have long held an established “canonical” position against some that have not, and we will consider some of the critical assumptions that have shaped the “canon."
Required Course Texts:
The Broadview Anthology of British Literature. Vols. 1-3 (vol. 1: 2d edition; vol. 2: 2d edition; vol. 3: 1st edition)
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