(1) T. Jan. 28: Course introduction. Caedmon’s hymn.

Assignment: Beowulf (Norton 3-18, 26-32, 36-68)

Optional: Read the “Introduction” in the pdf of Seamus Heaney’s translation, linked below.

*Note: The bookstore ran out and won’t have copies of the Norton until this Thursday, the 30th. If you are desperate to get started with your reading of Beowulf you can start with this pdf: Beowulf trans. Heaney. Read up to line 1250. Be aware that there is other reading in the Norton that is not in this pdf, so you need to get the anthology and read those introductory pages before our next class meeting. Pdfs will not be available for course readings in the future.

Come to class ready to contribute to a discussion focusing on the text of Beowulf. Take notes as you read! Underline and mark up passages. Consider rhetorical and literary devices used in the poem. And simply enjoy this interesting and exciting poem.

Also be sure to read through the blog post on Beowulf and to attempt to answer, in your notes, some of the response questions.

Lastly, if you are unfamiliar or want a refresher on the terminology of literary discussion, please look through this pdf, as some of these terms may be relevant to in-class writing and quizzes: “Denotation and Connotation,” “Imagery,” “Figurative Language 1: Simile, Metaphor, Personification, Apostrophe, Metonymy,” “Figurative Language 2: Symbol, Allegory,” “Figurative Language 3: Paradox, Overstatement, Understatement, Irony,” “Allusion,” and “Tone”

 (2) T. Feb. 4: Beowulf (Norton 3-18, 26-32, 36-68) 

Assignment: In addition to reading the rest of Beowulf, please read this Model Student Response Paper on Beowulf. Make sure that you have read and digested all the reading material up to date, including posts on the blog. You are encouraged to take notes on this and on topics delivered in class lectures.

*HINT: There may be an in-class writing quiz next time we meet. If so you will be allowed to refer to your notes and to the texts in the anthology.

WRITE: Start working on/thinking about your first paper. Info on the first paper, including length expectations, is in the syllabus. You can also use the model student essay I am giving you as a guide. You are asked to choose and respond to one of the questions listed at the bottom of the Beowulf blog post. This is NOT a book report or summary of what you’ve read. You are expected to argue a specific claim about the text and support that claim with quotations and concise paraphrase of textual events. This means you must have a strong thesis: one that could be argued against. You should also avoid vague generalities and a wishy washy introductory paragraph. Get right down to the business of your argument.

(4) T. Feb. 11: Beowulf cont’d. (Norton 68-106)

Assignment: Read all of the Dover Thrift edition of the Selected Canterbury Tales. This includes the “General Prologue,” “The Knight’s Tale,” The Miller’s Prologue,” “The Miller’s Tale,” The Wife of Bath’s Prologue,” and “The Wife of Bath’s Tale.”

As always, there may be an in-class writing quiz; so be prepared. We will certainly spend a some time discussing the Wife of Bath’s prologue and tale (though this may or may not be the focus of a possible quiz). One thing to think about as you read these parts of the text is the following: can we consider the Wife of Bath a proto-feminist figure? Or is she meant to be a negative example of womanhood, someone who belongs in the book of wicked wives mentioned in the text? The Knight’s and Miller’s tales may also be read in relation to each other; all of the selected tales in the Dover Thrift Edition concern themes of love and how they are presented in different narrative genres. The Knights Tale is Chaucer’s take on the genre of chivalric romance. The Miller’s Tale is in the form of a bawdy or vulgar story called a fabliau. And the Wife of Bath’s tale is another, different, version of a romance.

(4) T. Feb. 18: Chaucer, selections from The Canterbury Tales (Selected Canterbury Tales1-135). Also read the introduction to both Chaucer and The Canterbury Tales in the Norton (Norton 188-193) but you don’t have to bring the anthology to class.

 Assignment: Finish your papers on Beowulf and email them BEFORE the start of class. Please refer to the syllabus or About page on this blog for guidelines regarding paper formatting. And also remember to use the Model Student Response Paper (linked above) as tool work ensuring that you’ve got a good and arguable thesis. For reading, read Book 1 of Spenser’s The Fairie Queen (Norton 399-462) and if possible also read the Intro to the Sixteenth Century (Norton 349-381) but the latter is optional this time. It is LIKELY that THERE WILL BE A QUIZ. So be sure to finish your essays and give yourselves time to do the reading.

 (5) T. Feb. 25: Spenser, selections from The Fairie Queen (Norton 399-462). Intro to the Sixteenth Century (Norton 349-381)

*Essay #1 Due (emailed to your professor)

 Assignment: Read the biographical headnote on Shakespeare and the intro to the Sonnets (Norton 535-540). Read Sonnets 15, 18, 20, 29, 73, 116, 129, 130, 138. You should come to class ready to paraphrase and discuss each sonnet. Choose a single sonnet to do a close-reading of in greater depth and be prepared to write about it in detail in class. Also get on started reading King Lear; read the first act.

Note: for a guide to the sonnet form see the post on Poetic Closure and the Sonnet. For a guide to poetic meter see the post on Poetry and Meter.

(6) T. Mar. 4: Shakespeare, Sonnets 15, 18, 20, 29, 73, 116, 129, 130, 138

Assignment: Read the rest of King Lear. 

You can also watch a performance of King Lear here.

Extra Credit: Write a sonnet following the rules of the Shakespearean or English sonnet form and responding, in some way, to one of Shakespeare’s sonnets. This will count as much as a quiz and so can help make up for a bad first quiz grade.


(7) T. Mar. 11: Shakespeare, King Lear (the complete play, in the Norton Critical Edition copy – see required texts)

Assignment: Milton, Paradise Lost, books 1-3 (Norton 801-854); Also bring copies of King Lear for continued discussion


 (8) T. Mar. 18: Milton, Paradise Lost, books 1-3 (Norton 801-854); Also continue discussion of King Lear


(9) T. Mar. 25: Milton, Paradise Lost cont’d., books 5-12 (854-929)

Homework: read the introduction to the Romantic Period (1411-1438); William Blake, “The Chimney Sweeper” (1465), “London” (1469); Wordsworth, “The world is too much with us” (1593), “Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey…” (1539 – *pay special attention to this poem), “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” (1585), “My Heart Leaps Up” (1586), ; Coleridge, “Kubla Khan” (1680); Shelley, “To a Skylark” (1822); Keats, “Ode to a Nightingale” (1900), Letter “To Richard Woodhouse” (1931)

Note: Pay special attention to Wordsworth’s “Lines Composed…” (1539). Also read the introduction to romanticism that I’ve posted to the main page of the blog before class. You are encouraged to read the biographical introductions for each poet in the Norton Anthology as well.


 (10) T. Apr. 1: Romantic Poetry: Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Shelley, Keats



(11) T. Apr. 8: Mary Shelley, Frankenstein



**Monday April 14th: ESSAY #2 DUE (emailed to your professor) 


SPRING BREAK: Monday, April 14 – Tuesday, April 22

*No Class: Tuesday, April 15

*No Class: Tuesday, April 22


 (12) T. Apr. 29: Charles Dickens, Hard Times

Homework: Read Yeats, “The Second Coming” (2481); T. S. Eliot, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” (2709), “The Waste Land” (2713, also check out this hypertext version online); Wallace Stevens, “Sunday Morning” (Course Blog)


 (13) T. May. 6: William Butler Yeats, T.S. Eliot, and Wallace Stevens


(14) T. May. 13: Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway

*Essay #3 due (emailed to your professor)


Reading Day: Friday, May 16

EXAM WEEK: Saturday, May 17 – Friday, May 23



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