Week-by-week schedule of readings, assignments, and issues for discussion

ENGL 3710: Course Calendar

WEEK ONE (Aug. 22—30)

Theme: The Origins of British Literature
Reading: “The Middle Ages,” Norton Anthology of English Literature (NAEL) 1-23; “Beowulf,” NAEL 26-97.
Discussion: The historical and cultural context of early British Literature; the preoccupations and prosody of Beowulf
Working ahead: Finish reading and review Beowulf
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WEEK TWO (Sept. 2—6)

Theme: The Origins of British Literature; Major themes, motifs, and symbols in Beowulf
Reading: “Beowulf,” NAEL 26-97
Discussion: The features and functions of the Epic; What is identity? How is identity created?  How is identity modeled in Beowulf (and other literature)?
Working ahead: Continue re-reading/reviewing Beowulf
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WEEK THREE (Sept. 9—13)

Theme: Major themes, motifs, and symbols in Beowulf
Reading: “Beowulf,” NAEL 26-97
Discussion: Identity in Beowulf; the Heroic “Code” and its contradictions; the Good Warrior vs. the Good King; Christianity and Paganism
Working ahead: Begin reading “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight,” NAEL 112-164
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WEEK FOUR (Sept. 16—20)

Theme: Major themes motifs, and symbols in “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight”
Reading: “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight,” NAEL 112-164
Discussion: The world before cash: Gift-giving rituals and closure; Christian, courtly, and chivalric values
Working ahead: Continue reading and reviewing “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight,” NAEL 112-164
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WEEK FIVE (Sept. 23—27)

Theme: Major themes, motifs, and symbols in “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight”
Reading: “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight,” NAEL 112-164
Discussion: The Green world vs. the Golden world; the seasonal cycle (change and renewal); binary oppositions (male-female/animal-human); Sin, shame, and laughter
Working ahead: Begin reading “Geoffrey Chaucer” and “The Canterbury Tales,” NAEL 165-69 and “Canterbury Tales Excerpts,” NAEL 170-266
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WEEK SIX (Sept. 30—Oct. 4)

Theme: Major themes, motifs, and symbols in Chaucer’s “Canterbury Tales”
Reading: “Geoffrey Chaucer” and “The Canterbury Tales,” NAEL 165-69 and “Canterbury Tales Excerpts,” NAEL 170-266
Discussion: Representations of class; medieval church
Working ahead: Continue reading and reviewing “Canterbury Tales Excerpts,” NAEL 170-266

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WEEK SEVEN (Oct. 9—11)

Theme: Major themes, motifs, and symbols in Chaucer’s “Canterbury Tales”
Reading: “Canterbury Tales Excerpts,” NAEL 170-266
Discussion: Women & Marriage; the features and functions of allegory; “Canterbury Tales” as an allegory of human life; challenges to early medieval codes and preoccupations in “Canterbury Tales”—chivalric, Christian, and heroic codes challenged by more modern (and relativistic) notions of honor, truth, duty, constancy, faith, virginity, and love.
Working ahead: Begin reading “William Shakespeare,” NAEL 493-97 and “Sonnets,” NAEL 497-509
Work assigned: The Research Project—email me your Literature Search and Prospectus on Friday, 18 October by 5:00 p.m.
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WEEK EIGHT (Oct. 14—18)

Theme: Major themes, motifs, and symbols in Shakespeare’s sonnets
Reading: “William Shakespeare,” NAEL 493-97 and “Sonnets,” NAEL 497-509
Discussion: Mr. W.H. and the “dark lady” in Shakespeare’s sonnets; the power of love and poetry over death; the trials and rewards of love
Working ahead: Begin reading Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night,” NAEL 510-71.
Assignments due: Email me your Literature Search and Prospectus on Friday, 18 October by 5:00 p.m.
Midterm Reading Test: In-class on TH, 17 October
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WEEK NINE (Oct. 21—25)

Theme: Major themes, motifs, and symbols in Twelfth Night
Reading: “Twelfth Night,” NAEL 510-71
Discussion: Elizabethan theater; the features and functions of the traditional comedy; caprice and disguise; the Petrarchan lover and love’s reality; characterization in Shakespeare
Working ahead: Continue reading and reviewing “Twelfth Night,” NAEL 510-71
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WEEK TEN (Oct. 28—Nov. 1)

Theme: Major themes, motifs, and symbols in Twelfth Night
Reading: “Twelfth Night,” NAEL 510-71
Discussion: Disguise and recognition; recognizing one’s folly/true nature; the levels of love; the potential for tragedy in comedy; gender roles
Working ahead: Begin reading “John Milton,” NAEL 693-96 and “Paradise Lost,” NAEL 723-852.
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WEEK ELEVEN (Nov. 4—8)

Theme: Major themes, motifs, and symbols in Paradise Lost
Reading: “John Milton,” NAEL 693-96 and “Paradise Lost,” NAEL 723-852
Discussion: Mid-seventeenth-century Christian values in literature; the importance of obedience to God; Milton’s view of the nature of the universe in context; the felix culpa
Working ahead: Finish reading and review “Paradise Lost,” NAEL 723-852
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WEEK TWELVE (Nov. 11—15)

Theme: Major themes, motifs, and symbols in Paradise Lost
Reading: “Paradise Lost,” NAEL 723-852
Discussion: Light and dark; the fourfold universe; Satan as antihero; the Epic without action heroes; does Milton succeed in justifying “the ways of God to men?”
Working ahead: Begin reading “The Restoration and the Eighteenth Century,” NAEL 853-78, “John Dryden,” NAEL 879, and “Absalom and Achitophel: A Poem,” 880-903
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WEEK THIRTEEN (Nov. 18—22)

Theme: Major themes, motifs, and symbols in Dryden’s “Absalom and Achhitophel”
Reading: “The Restoration and the Eighteenth Century,” NAEL 853-78, “John Dryden,” NAEL 879, and “Absalom and Achitophel: A Poem,” 880-903
Discussion: The Restoration and Eighteenth Century; the features and functions of a parable; the features and functions of 18th century satire; the Biblical Prodigal Son and the Good Sower updated by Dryden
Working ahead: Begin reading “Jonathan Swift,” NAEL 971-72 and “Gulliver’s Travels” excerpts, 974-1068
Work Assigned: Email your Research project and Evaluation Memo on Friday, 6 December by 5:00p.

No class TH in observance of Thanksgiving!

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WEEK FOURTEEN (Nov. 25—29)

Theme: Major themes, motifs, and symbols in Gulliver’s Travels
Reading: “Jonathan Swift,” NAEL 971-72 and “Gulliver’s Travels” excerpts, 974-1068
Discussion: The features and functions of 18th-century satire (continued); society and its defects; the risk-taker is rewarded with knowledge and an interesting life; the pettiness of human nature (Lilliput and Blefescu); relativity and alienation (Lilliput and Brobdinag)
Working ahead: Finish reading and review “Gulliver’s Travels” excerpts, NAEL 974-1068
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WEEK FIFTEEN (December 2-6)

Theme: Major themes, motifs, and symbols in Gulliver’s Travels
Reading: “Gulliver’s Travels” excerpts, 974-1068
Discussion: Scatological humor; humanity as degraded and stupid; love and kindness—its absence and presence
Assignments due: Research project and Evaluation Memo emailed to me on Friday, 6 December by 5:00p.
Final Reading Test: In-class on TH, 5 December

Have a peaceful and joyful Winter Break!