Literary History 1

L310 — Fall 2021

Shannon Gayk
Days and Times
11:30a - 12:45p MW (3 CR)
Course Description

In this course, we will survey and sample the earliest literatures in English, from the Old English epic, Beowulf, to the often bawdy stories of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and the courtly quest of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, to early drama, renaissance love lyrics, and finally to Milton’s epic, Paradise Lost.  Beginning in the 700s and ending around 1700, you should expect a fast and furious journey through the “greatest hits” of early English literature, as we approach early literary history as the story of cultures’ imaginative engagement with their historical, social political, and religious contexts. We will also pay special attention to how the texts we consider construe their relationship to the past and the future: asking, for example, how do literary texts represent their debts to earlier texts and literary traditions? How does literature engage the inherent tensions between residual and emergent cultures in periods of transition? How does literature confront new regimes? New forms of knowledge? New technologies? The discovery of new worlds? How does it represent the passing away of the old ones? You should leave the course with a strong grounding not only in the history and the texts we cover, but also in methods for reading literary texts in relation to their historical contexts. Course requirements include engaged participation, two exams, and two papers.

Interested in this course?

The full details of this course are available on the Office of the Registrar website.

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