This course surveys literature from the earliest period of British literary history to the middle of the eighteenth century, encompassing a number of major writers and important genres and themes. The course aims to provide a basic context for understanding early British literature by focusing on the historical and cultural contexts in which the literature was written and the changing conventions it employs. Note: This course does not attempt in depth readings of the texts; instead, it emphasises understanding the historical contexts which formed the basis for all intellectual and material culture during the period studied. As such, you will be expected to learn (i.e. remember) a fair amount of history: names, dates, and cultural terminology. This is a crash course on all the chronological background you may have missed out on but which is crucial for understanding the origins and early development of western culture. Students in this course will:
We are using a custom course pack based on The Broadview Anthology British Literature, 3nd edition: Concise Edition, Volume A. The course pack is available from the Matador bookstore. If they run out of copies, you may order a copy of the full edition from the Broadview web site. The PDF version is actually $2 cheaper than the custom edition and is in a good move if you need the textbook in a hurry.
If you have a digital version of the textbook, it is a good idea to print out a copy of the text we are studying whilst we are Zooming so that you do not have to swap between the Zoom screen and the text.
The class will have meetings on Zoom every Monday at 11:00. These meetings will last approximately 30-45 minutes and will consist of a combination of lecture and question/discussion time. The remainder of our assigned class time is intended for asynchronous work, especially on the Canvas discussion forum. Attendance at the meetings is not required; however, if you do not attend, you are encouraged to watch the recordings, which will be posted on Canvas shortly after the session. The Zoom link and will be available on the Canvas course site. Attendance at the Zoom meetings constitutes your permission for the meeting to be recorded and made available only through the Canvas course site.
Your grade will consist of the following elements: a journal, posts to an online forum, multiple short quizzes, and a final exam.
Throughout the course, you will keep a journal (a simple word processing file) detailing your thoughts and questions about the reading. Journal entries may contain summaries of the text, interpretations, questions, and notes. Full details are given in a separate journal assignment on Canvas.
You will be required to contribute two posts on the Canvas discussion forum in response to prompts I provide. The drafts for your posts may be entries in your journal, and they should be well thought out mini essays. Additional posts (including the introduction of new topics) and responses to earlier posts will count towards your grade for the forum. Full details are given in a separate forum assignment on Canvas.
There will be four quizzes administered via Canvas, which will consist of a combination of multiple choice, fill in the blank, and short answer questions. These quizzes will be partially graded by me and partially graded by you using a rubric designed to assess your progress in meeting the course objectives.
There will be one-hour exam at the end of the course administered via Canvas. The exam will be similar in format to the quizzes.
By enrolling in this course you agree to be bound for the purposes of this class by the policies below, which serve as a formal legal agreement. You may reject these policies by dropping the class within the time allotted by the University.
Grades are A, B, C, D, or F and can receive a plus or minus. To receive a grade other than a WU, you must have completed more than half the coursework (no exceptions).
Since students in English courses are expected by society at large to be acquiring writing skills, I privilege grammar, spelling, and editing in my grading. Work containing distracting numbers of typos, spelling mistakes, or grammatical errors will be graded primarily on these criteria on a sliding scale which may supersede any percentages given in the Coursework and Grading section above. That is, the more distracting these factors are, the more they are worth (up to 100% of your grade). A rough guide to what is distracting is any sign that might give an employer pause when evaluating a job application.
Journal assignments are due on the dates given on the class schedule. If you have a problem meeting the assignment deadline, please contact me. If you do not contact me, I will not provide as much feedback on the journal, and you may only receive partial credit.
Forum posts should be submitted at least 24 hours prior to our scheduled discussion of the subject matter. If your post is a response to our discussion, it may be submitted up to a week after the discussion begins. Posts submitted on or after the date of the final exam will not be counted.
I typically make online tests available for a 24 hour period. If you do not take the test during this period, I am not required to provide you with the opportunity to take make-up tests. I will only administer make-up tests if 1) you have a legitimate excuse recognised by the university, 2) I am able to do so without adversely impacting other students either by taking time from my other duties or by creating conditions that would give you an unfair advantage for the purposes of grading.
In some semesters opportunities may arise for non-required activities such as guest lectures, and I will offer extra credit for attendance at or participation in these activities. I will always offer this extra credit to the entire class. Because my time commitments do not allow me to grade extra assignments, I do not award extra credit to individual students for any reason. I keep to this policy very strictly.
In order to receive full credit in the course, you must do the readings in advance, be prepared to discuss the texts in our online forum, and complete all assignments. You are not required to attend synchronous Zoom sessions, but, if you do not, it is highly recommended that you watch the recordings, which will be posted on Canvas.
Enrolling in this class requires a commitment to participate in a community of learners in which you agree to contribute to and not to detract from the learning environment. I reserve the right to ask you to leave Zoom sessions, ban you from the forum, and/or impose grade penalties if you cause disruptions of any sort to the learning environment.
To receive a passing grade in this class, you must abide by the terms of the code of conduct outlined below. This code is based on the one produced by Northeastern University's Feminist Coding Collective, adapted by Ryan Cordell.
See further the statement on Diversity and Inclusion below.
Throughout the class, you are expected to conduct yourself professionally. This means respecting your professor and your classmates by producing work that is well-edited and free from spelling and grammatical errors. My own posts on the forum should be a standard for you to emulate (which is not to say that I will never make mistakes). Putting effort into polishing your writing is a professional courtesy to others; not doing so is insulting.
It is extremely important that all aspects of your work are come by honourably. Efforts to gain an advantage not given to all students are dishonest and regarded as an extremely serious matter by the academic community. Consequences range from probation to expulsion. University policy stipulates that plagiarism, the submission of another person’s work as your own, is a violation of academic honesty, even if it arises out of ignorance or oversight, rather than deliberate cheating. Enrolling in this class means that you agree to abide by my decision regarding the appropriate action to take in cases of academic dishonesty. If you have any questions about plagiarism, paraphrasing, quoting, or collaboration, please consult me.
CSUN values an inclusive learning environment, where we respect the varied perspectives and experiences of a diverse community. Students and faculty each have responsibility for maintaining a respectful space to express their opinions. Professional courtesy and consideration for our classroom community are especially important with respect to topics dealing with differences in race, colour, gender and gender identity/expression, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, disability, and age.
As a “responsible employee” at CSUN, I am required by federal and state laws to report incidences of harassment and discrimination to the campus Title IX Coordinator if they are disclosed to me. If you have experienced harassment or discrimination and do not want the Title IX Coordinator notified, instead of disclosing the experience to me, you can speak confidentially with CSUN’s Care Advocate by calling (818) 677-7492. For more information regarding your university rights and options, please visit the University’s Title IX website at http://www.csun.edu/title-ix.
Students should make sure that they follow the university’s add/drop deadlines, outlined in the Schedule of Classes. According to university policy, drops are only allowed after the set date when “a) there is a serious and compelling reason – specifically the student’s emotional or physical health or financial condition is clearly in jeopardy, and b) there is no viable alternative – including repeating the class”. Students will need to provide documentation on official letterhead – a letter, on official stationery, from a doctor or an employer – to support their reasons. No adds will be allowed unless a student can provide documented proof – e.g., a clerical error – for the reason for the tardiness. Please make sure to meet the deadline!
The standard grade if a student fails to complete the work for a class is a “WU”. This is the equivalent of an “F”, but the grade may be changed if you re-take the course at a future time. This grade is also assigned to students who have not attended after the first few classes of the semester but have not officially “withdrawn” from the course.
I may assign an Incomplete (“I”) if and only if you meet all of the following conditions:
Once you take an incomplete, you have a year from the date recorded on the form to complete the requirements of the course and have your grade changed; therefore, you should submit work early enough to allow me to grade your work and fill out the necessary forms to assign you a new grade.
Keep in mind that, after you take an Incomplete, any grading of your work becomes an added burden on my busy timetable during the following year. Therefore you should not expect the normal amount of comments on your work or any extra teaching beyond my normal office hours.
You are responsible for completing the reading by the date for which the reading is assigned. Page numbers for background readings refer to the custom Broadview Anthology unless otherwise stated. In general, you should locate texts using your book's table of contents. Prior to the scheduled class, you should read the relevant posts on the Canvas discussion forum. In addition to the assigned readings on the schedule, you will receive regular announcements of supplementary videos and/or presentations through Canvas.
Reading: Extracts from Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English People, pp. 36-46 (the first three extracts)
Background Reading: pp. 1-11; Introducing the Literature of the Middle Ages, pp. 1-12
Reading: Bede, pp. 46-50 (the last extract)
Background Reading: Introducing the Literature of the Middle Ages, pp. 1-12, 20-24
Reading: The Wanderer (pp. 51-54)
Background Reading: pp. 29-31
Reading: The Dream of the Rood, pp. 55-34
Reading: Beowulf, ll. 1-990
Please also look at the helpful background material on pp. 103-107.
Reading: Beowulf, ll. 991-1887
Reading: Beowulf, ll. 1888-2390
Reading: Beowulf, ll. 2391-3182
Reading: Lanval, ll. 1-414
Background Reading: pp. 12-20; History of Medieval England (1066-1413)
Reading: Lanval, ll. 415-646
Reading: The General Prologue to The Canterbury Tales, ll. 1-358
|MON||10/12||Reading: The General Prologue, ll. 359-858|
Reading: The Miller's Prologue and Tale from The Canterbury Tales, ll. 1-387
Reading: The Miller's Tale from The Canterbury Tales, ll. 388-746
Background Reading: British History (1485-1714)
Reading: Christopher Marlowe, "The Passionate Shepherd to His Love" (pp. 221-223), and Sir Walter Raleigh, "The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd" (pp. 218-220) (please read the Marlowe poems first)
Background Reading: pp.166-185; 200-211; 215-217
Background Reading: How to Understand Early Modern Poetry
Reading: Shakespeare’s sonnets 18, 19, and 55
|WED||11/04||Reading: Shakespeare’s sonnets 127, 129, 130, 138|
Reading: John Donne, "The Flea" and "A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning"
Reading: Christopher Marlowe, Doctor Faustus, Prologue and Act I
Reading: Doctor Faustus, Acts II-IV
Reading: Doctor Faustus, Act V and Epilogue
Reading: Paradise Lost, Book I, ll. 1-330
Reading: Paradise Lost, Book I, ll. 331-798
Reading: John Wilmot, Early of Rochester, "A Satire on Charles II" and "The Imperfect Enjoyment"; Aphra Behn, "The Disappointment"
Compiling a bibliography for this type of course is a daunting task. It cannot be expected that you will read too deeply about an single author or work, and that you only have a limited amount of time to get to know each historical period. Hence I have included a list of Companion volumes published by Cambridge University Press, which you should be able to delve into for background material and current thought about some of the texts we are studying. The links take you to the publisher’s web site, but you can also find these volumes in the university library (where indicated by a call number) and sometimes in local bookshops.
A: You need a multi-part plan.
A: Pretty much like the quizzes in format. It will just be longer. The scope of the material will be cumulative–meaning that it will cover everything we have discussed from the first day of class to the end of the Middle Ages. This does lead to a few differences in how you should study.