E276 – Survey of British Literature I

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Description: Description: This course introduces students to a select part of the historical record of British literature extending from the Anglo-Saxon period through the eighteenth century. The course emphasis will fall upon the students’ achieving a basic literacy in reading historic English language texts. Such close reading may be calculated to facilitate the students’ own questionings about socio-historical contexts, periodizations, intertextuality, basic literary terminology including prosody, diverse genre characteristics, and the formation of the canon. Selecting texts with respect to their potential for intertextual imbrication allows students to see dialogue in the tradition, and to consider the course less a survey of writing than as an exercise in the historicity of reading.

As an approved course in the III-B Arts/Humanities category of the All University Core Curriculum, E 276 fulfills the criteria for this category:

1. The course covers foundational knowledge in the reading and interpretation of a variety of literary genres – fiction, epic, lyric, essays, drama, and oral literature – over a wide range of historical periods, from the eighth century to the eighteenth. It introduces many of the basic formal elements and interpretive skills necessary to understanding literature. And it considers the relationship of literature to the changing historical contexts that give rise to it.

2. Historically focussed as the course is, it enables the students to grasp (and to question) traditional historical periods – the Medieval age, the Renaissance, the Enlightenment – tracing continuities and differences as literature reflects changing conceptions of self and world.

3. Students will engage in frequent written work and oral presentation, both formal and informal, thus honing their writing and speaking skills.

4. Through the study of British literature, students will gain an understanding of the similarities and differences that they as Americans share with the British of past eras and different cultural contexts.

5. This course helps students develop skills in reading, writing, speaking, and critical thinking, and also their abilities to work independently and collaboratively.