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Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences

British Literature

english department

English Electives Offered Fall 2017


Fulfills the pre-1700 requirement

The British Isles were home to an exceptionally vibrant early literary tradition spanning English, French, Irish, Latin, and other languages. British writing connected rulers and rebels, merchants and monks, brewers and bureaucrats. This course is a survey of British literature from the beginnings to the early eighteenth century. Most texts are in English; some are read in translation. The course focuses on connections between literature, power, and the formation of literary canons. The survey covers all major genres of early British literature. Texts and authors will include Beowulf, Marie de France, Chaucer, Margery Kempe, Shakespeare, Milton, Aphra Behn, and Swift.

Eric Weiskott

Fulfills the pre-1700 requirement

In this class, we will read and discuss Shakespeare's plays with an emphasis on their status as performed texts with a variety of potential interpretations. How were these plays performed in Elizabethan England, and what shape do they take today? How might conventions of contemporary film and television empower us to reinterpret Shakespeare's genre and style? In addition to traditional readings and assignments, this course will involve in-class performance experiments and a creative project. Texts will likely include Richard III, The Taming of the Shrew, Much Ado About Nothing, Othello, and Cymbeline.

Kelsey Norwood

Fulfills the pre-1900 requirement.

In this course we will read and discuss the poetry of Burns, Blake, Barbauld, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron, Shelley, Hemans, Keats, Clare, and Landon. In addition to reading a few essays in literary criticism and theory by the poets themselves, we will consider a variety of critical perspectives, including formalism (the study of poetic and other literary devices and structures) and other approaches, such as feminism and the New Historicism, that bring out the cultural, social, and historical contexts of the poems.

Alan Richardson

Fulfills the pre-1900 requirement

In this course, we will read “like Victorians” by reading four Victorian novels in their original serial installments: Wilkie Collins’s thriller The Woman in White, Anthony Trollope’s delightful Framley Parsonage, Charles Dickens’s classic Our Mutual Friend, and Charlotte Yonge’s moralistic The Clever Woman of the Family. Each was published monthly or weekly between 1859 and 1865. As we experiment with serial and simultaneous reading, we will consider these texts as they were first produced and consumed, analyzing their accompanying illustrations, articles, and advertisements. Along the way, we will imagine the experience of reading in a world new to mass literacy.

Maia McAleavey


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