Sunday, July 27, 2014

Welcome to the Course Blog

Welcome to English 2643, perhaps better known as British Literature to 1800.  If this class was a bestselling novel, the back jacket of the book would read: "Shipwrecks and sea monsters.  Lust and love triangles.  Satire and scandal.  Romance and reason.  It’s all here—the most exciting stories ever written, by the most mysterious and inspired authors in the English language.  This course reconstructs the worlds each of these authors lived in, so we can appreciate how their words sounded to its contemporaries, few of whom knew they were listening to ‘classic’ literature.  The challenge for you, as a student, is to be open to the clash of cultures, languages, ideas, and genres that make up the first thousand years of English literature.  So whether you are an ardent Anglophile or are racked with Metrophobia (fear of poetry), you will find something in this class that moves you…confuses you…inspires you…and intimidates you.  Read with an open mind and don’t be afraid to ask questions."

You can find everything you need for class on this blog, including the reading assignments/questions which will start on Friday, the 22nd.  Be sure to buy the books for class as soon as possible, since the bookstore sends the books back by the 6th week.  Also note that our 3 of our 5 books have required editions, meaning that you must buy the exact editions outlined in the syllabus (and repeated below).  Why?  These editions have supplementary reading material that will help us explore and understand the historical and literary context of the works in question.  Often, it's not enough simply to read a book...we need to read the book the contemporaries of the author read, which means knowing what they knew, or at least seeing some of the ideas/issues that concerned them.  The complete reading list is below:


Beowulf (Penguin Classics or other)
Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales (Oxford’s Classics or other)
Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Bedford St.Martin’s required)
Defoe, Robinson Crusoe (Norton Critical required)
Austen, Northanger Abbey (Norton Critical required)  

Please e-mail me with any questions at: jgrasso@ecok.edu.  I look forward to guiding you on this journey through some of my favorite works of literature!