English | Literatures in English to 1600
E301 | 6779 | Shannon Gayk

Shannon Gayk

6779 - 11:15a-12:30p TR (30 students) 3 cr. A&H.

Open to majors and declared minors only.

TOPIC:  “The Invention of English Literature”

This course offers a survey of Early English literature, ranging
from Beowulf to Shakespeare.  Over the course of the semester we
will examine in detail the processes of early poetic invention and
consider the following questions: To what purposes was early poetry
put?  How does the literature represent the poet?  Where does early
English literature find its roots, sources, and subjects?  To what
extent does Early English literature value originality?  What is the
relationship between early poetry and rhetoric? How is the
imagination understood?  What are the representational practices
employed (and how do they differ from modern modes of
representation)? How does early English literature distinguish
between genres and modes?  And what can early English teach us about
modern creativity, literary invention, and the craft of writing more

In order to explore these questions we will read widely in early
English literature.  Most of the course texts will be taken from the
first and second volumes of the Broadview Anthology of British
Literature (available at the bookstore).  Readings will include
Beowulf, Old English Elegies, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight,
Pearl, selections from Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, lyrics by
Chaucer, Lydgate, Hoccleve,  Henryson,  Dunbar, Skelton,  Hawes, and
the ever so prolific Anon., Everyman, selections from Spenser’s
Faerie Queene, sonnets by  Wyatt, Surrey, Sidney, Spenser,
Shakespeare, and Elizabeth I, and Marlowe’s Hero and Leander.  Some
readings (including required secondary sources) will be made
available on Oncourse.  We will approach the material by close
reading and discussing it but also by practicing, performing, and
imitating it.  Course requirements include daily attendance, engaged
participation, midterm and final exams, a final paper, and a number
of short assignments.