ENGL 2001 British Literature to 1800

“ ’Tis easy to mark out the general course of our poetry.  Chaucer, Spenser, Milton, and Dryden are the great landmarks for it.”

So declared Alexander Pope sometime in the 1730s, fully confident that he, too, would soon be considered a “landmark” of English literature.

This course offers an introduction to the history of British Literature from its beginnings to the year 1800. (Actually, it was “English” literature until 1707, when the nations of England and Scotland were formally united as “Britain.”) Starting with a brief look at some Old English texts, we will move on to Middle English, Early Modern, and Eighteenth-Century literature, looking at poems, plays and prose writings by such landmark authors as Chaucer, Shakespeare, Donne, Milton, Swift, and Pope.

The course is designed to offer some basic knowledge that you should have in order to do well in upper-level English courses, and it puts special emphasis on developing skills in literary historical research and close analysis.