ENGL 2525:
Whittemore 257 3:30 CRN 93020


Mr. Radcliffe drad@vt.edu
Office Hours: MW 2-3:00 — 412 Shanks Hall


This class follows the development of English literature from its beginnings in oral and manuscript culture in the medieval period to the beginnings of modern commercial publishing in the eighteenth century. We will read a selection of seminal works in the more important genres of poetry and prose, considering how the sentiments they express address matters of concerns of their times and ours, and how the forms in which those sentiments were expressed laid the groundwork for literature as we know it today. Evaluation will be based on attendance and class participation, short assignments (10%), three 5 page papers (60%), and a final examination (30%).

A survey course like this has several goals. Since English literature is filled with allusions to landmark works, surveys of earlier literature are obviously useful for grasping references in later literature. Surveys also introduce the ways of reading works in their historical, social, and intellectual contexts. Still another purpose is to cultivate an awareness of long-term historical continuity and change since literary works typically speak to contexts beyond those that originally gave rise to them. And then, not the least important purpose of a survey course is to equip contemporary readers and writers with "the best that has been thought and said" by their predecessors.

To pursue these goals it is necessary to absorb a good deal of information intended for future use: in other literature and humanities courses, but also for making sense of the world beyond the walls of the academy. Because there is much information to be absorbed in a short time, students are required to do the readings, attend the lectures, participate in discussions, and do the assignments. Attendance will be taken and late work will be accepted only with the prior permission of the instructor. Work done for this class is expected to be your own.

Students with disabilities are encouraged to contact the instructor; all students are expected to abide by the Virginia Tech Honor System. Late work will be accepted only with the prior permission of the instructor: plan ahead. Office Hours: Mondays and Wednesdays at 2:00, and by appointment. Come by to chat about literature, your essays, future plans, whatever.


Week 1 August 27: Introduction

August 29: Norton pp. 3-25. Beowulf (36-77)

Week 2 September 3: Beowulf (77-108)

September 5: Gawain and the Green Knight (183-209)

Week 3 September 10: Gawain and the Green Knight (209-238)

September 12: Chaucer: General Prologue (238-63)

Week 4 September 17: Chaucer: Wife of Bath's Tale (282-310)

September 19: Norton pp. 531-561; Thomas Wyatt, "Whoso list to hunt" (649); Henry Howard, "The soote season," "So cruel prison how could betide" (662, 665).

5 pp. Essay due 19 September

Week 5 September 24: Sonnets: Philip Sidney, Astrophel and Stella ( 1-6, 1084-86) William Shakespeare (Sonnets 1, 3, 12, 15, 18, 1171-72); Marlowe "The Passionate Shepherd" (1026); Raleigh, "The Nymph's Reply" (1024)

September 26: Spenser, Faerie Queene Book III Cantos 11-12 (960-84)

Week 6 October 1: Francis Bacon, "Of Great Place" (1666), "Of Studies" (1673); Donne, "The Good Morrow" (1373), "The Canonization" (1377), "A Valediction forbidding mourning" (1385); Holy Sonnets 5, 7, 14 (1411-13)

October 3: Marlowe, Doctor Faustus (1127-63)

Week 7 October 8: Norton pp. 1341-67; Jonson, "Epigrams" (1539-45); Herrick, "Delight in Disorder" (1758), "Corinna's Gone A-Maying" (1760), "To the Virgins, to Make much of Time" (1762), "The Hock Cart, or Harvest Home" (1762); Lovelace, "The Grasshopper" (1780); Philips, "Friendship's Mystery" (1786)

October 10: Marvell, "To his Coy Mistress" (1796), "The Mower against Gardens" (1800), "An Horatian Ode" (1806); Herbert, "The Altar (1707), "Church Monuments" (1712)

Week 8 October 15: Milton: Paradise Lost Books I-II (1943-86)

October 17: Milton: Paradise Lost Book IX (2091-2116)

5 pp. Essay due 17 October

Week 9 October 22: October 28: Norton pp. 2057-84. Butler, Hudibras excerpt (2289-96); Rochester (2296-2301); Bunyan, The Pilgrim's Progress excerpt (2269-78)

October 24: Dryden: Absolom and Achitophel (2212-2136)

Week 10 October 29: Congreve: Way of the World Acts I-III (2359-95)

October 31: Congreve: Way of the World Acts I-III (2295-2420)

Week 11 November 5: Addison & Steele, The Spectator excerpts (2639-64)

November 7: Swift: Gulliver's Travels Book I, chapter 1, Book IV (2587-2632)

Week 12 November 12: Pope: The Rape of the Lock Cantos I-III (2685-97)

November 14: Pope: The Rape of the Lock Cantos IV-V (2697-2704) Swift: "The Lady's Dressing Room" (2767) Montague, "The Reasons that induced Dr. Swift to write a Poem" (2770)

Week 13 November 19: Anne Finch: "A Nocturnal Reverie" (2433); Gray: "Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College" (3047)

November 21: Gray: Elegy written in a Country Churchyard (3051)

5-6 pp. Essay due 19 November


Week 14 December 3: Collins, Ode to Evening (3057); Goldsmith: The Deserted Village (3061)

December 5: Johnson: Rasselas (2856-87)

Week 15 December 10: Johnson: Rasselas (2887-2923)

Final Examination: December 13 10:05