English 258: Major English Authors I

Fall 2021

Course Details

Course Number: 14935

Meeting Time: MW 12:30 am-1:45 pm

Office Location: Sierra Tower 803

Office Hours: See Teaching

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About the Course

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.

Course Objectives

Students in this course will:

  • Acquire a basic knowledge of the early period in British literature from the sixth to the eighteenth centuries, including historical, cultural, and intellectual influences.
  • Acquire some familiarity with works by major authors from the early period in British literature.
  • Acquire a basic familiarity with the language of early British literature.
  • Practice reading and writing about early British literature using critical reading skills and the written conventions of literary criticism.


The Broadview Anthology of British Literature, Concise Edition: Volume A

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.