Representative British Writers
ENGL 208 A | Section 01 | MWF 2:10-3:00PM | Fall 2013 | Calhoun Hall 218
Professor Emily King | Email: [email protected]
Office Hours: Wednesdays, 12:10-1:45PM & by appointment in Benson 423
Course Description
This course traces the evolution of British literature over almost one thousand years (7001660) and four major periods. As we explore salient cultural and literary developments, we
will examine the content, form, and historical context of works such as Beowulf, The
Canterbury Tales, The Book of Margery Kempe, Astrophil and Stella, The Duchess of Malfi,
Paradise Lost, and The Convent of Pleasure. In order to connect disparate periods and genres,
we will attend to the changing conceptions of what constitutes the state and its subject,
gender norms and sexuality, and, of course, literature itself. By the conclusion of this course,
students will be able to recognize and describe British literary history as chronological,
developmental, and thematic, and, as in other literature courses, students will be expected to
identify and explain the fundamental features of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and drama.
Course Requirements
Required Texts: Our required text – The Norton Anthology of English Literature, Volume 1 (9th
edition) – may be purchased at the campus bookstore. All other materials may be found online
at OAK. Please print out these readings and bring them to class on the day that they are
Attendance and Participation: Some of the most significant discoveries occur during class,
and as such, there is no way to make up for the loss of a classroom learning experience. I
permit three absences from my class for illness, family emergencies, and other personal
matters. After three absences, I will subtract 1/3 letter grade for each subsequent absence.
Should you miss class, the class material and any associated assignments are still your
responsibility. Please note that Vanderbilt athletic or extracurricular activities do not
constitute “allowed” absences beyond the two permitted for our class.
The educational benefits of a dynamic, interactive classroom that features engaging and
respectful discussions are numerous. However, I will not simply award full participation
credit to students who talk the most. I recognize that there are a myriad of ways to
productively participate in a classroom, and I will stimulate discussion to encourage this
diversity. If you tend to be a “talker” in a class, please make sure that you’re listening to the
ongoing discussion and encouraging the participation of your peers. If you are hesitant to
speak in larger groups, please push yourself to speak once or twice during each class period.
Both you and your peers will reap the rewards of this effort.
Essays, Exams, and Grading Procedures
Essays: You will write two formal essays. The first paper will be 4-5 pages, and the second
essay, which will require outside research, will be 7-9 pages.
Exams: Exams include short answer questions, passage identification, and short essays.
Please note that the midterm and final are comprehensive; however, I will facilitate an
optional review session before each exam to assist you.
Leading Class Discussion: Each student will lead discussion during one class period. This
means that you, along with a partner or two, will be running the class for the opening 15-20
minutes. You will summarize the subject for day and select an issue or theme drawn from the
assigned reading. Because your goal is to stimulate discussion, you should come prepared
with questions and/or activities to do so.
To reflect on these experiences, you are required to write a 2 page paper that addresses the
following questions. How did you prepare for this activity? Were the preparatory tasks shared
equitably? How do you feel the discussion went? And why? Anything you wish you could do
This reflection paper is due one week after you lead discussion.
Quizzes: I reserve the right to give out surprise quizzes if I suspect that students are not
keeping up with the readings.
Grading: Your final grade will be based on the following:
15% for Formal Essay #1
25% for Formal Essay #2
20% for Midterm Exam
25% for Final Exam
15% for Teaching Activity and class participation
Course Policies
Late Policy: Tardy students disrupt the learning environment, so if you arrive late to class
more than 3 times, I will count this tardiness as an absence. As this is an early class, please feel
free to bring breakfast and/or your preferred form of caffeine, but please be on time.
Late Papers: I collect papers at the beginning of class on the due date. I penalize late papers
1/3 letter grade for each subsequent calendar day (e.g., B becomes B-).
Academic Integrity: Vanderbilt’s Honor Code governs all work in this course, and a violation
of this code carries serious consequences that may include a failing grade on the plagiarized
assignment, a failure in the course itself, suspension, or even expulsion. More importantly, you
cheat yourself out of a valuable learning experience. When you turn in an assignment, you
tacitly acknowledge that this is your own work. To avoid unintentional offenses, please
document your work according to MLA style. Should you have any questions concerning
plagiarism or documentation, please don’t hesitate to ask me.
Students with Disabilities: If you haven’t already done so, please visit Vanderbilt’s EAD
website to help secure appropriate documentation: In addition,
please come to me with your concerns, and I will do my best to accommodate your needs.
Final Thought on Attendance: Tom Wayman, “Did I Miss Anything”
Question frequently asked by
students after missing a class
Nothing. When we realized you weren't here
we sat with our hands folded on our desks
in silence, for the full two hours
Everything. I gave an exam worth
40 percent of the grade for this term
and assigned some reading due today
on which I'm about to hand out a quiz
worth 50 percent
Nothing. None of the content of this course
has value or meaning
Take as many days off as you like:
any activities we undertake as a class
I assure you will not matter either to you or me
and are without purpose
Everything. A few minutes after we began last time
a shaft of light descended and an angel
or other heavenly being appeared
and revealed to us what each woman or man must do
to attain divine wisdom in this life and
the hereafter
This is the last time the class will meet
before we disperse to bring this good news to all people
on earth
Nothing. When you are not present
how could something significant occur?
Everything. Contained in this classroom
is a microcosm of human existence
assembled for you to query and examine and ponder
This is not the only place such an opportunity has been
but it was one place
And you weren't here.
Course Calendar – British Writers to 1660
Fall 2013 – Emily King
Please note that this calendar is subject to change as we progress through
our semester together.
21 (W)
Introduction to Course
Section One: Anglo-Saxon Literature
23 (F)
Introduction to Anglo-Saxon literature, pp. 1-10
Beowulf, Introduction, pp. 36-41
Beowulf, lines 1-490
26 (M)
Beowulf, lines 491-1798
28 (W)
Beowulf, lines 1799-end
Section Two: Anglo-Norman Literature
30 (F)
Introduction to Anglo-Norman literature, pp. 10-13
Andreas Capellanus, De Amore (online)
2 (M)
Marie de France, “Guigemar,” (online)
4 (W)
Chrétien de Troye, Erec and Enide (online)
6 (F)
Chrétien de Troye, Erec and Enide (online)
9 (M)
Chrétien de Troye, Erec and Enide (online)
11 (W)
Geoffrey Chaucer, Introduction, pp. 238-243
The General Prologue, lines 1-446
13 (F)
The General Prologue, lines 447-end
16 (M)
The Wife of Bath, lines 1-671
18 (W)
The Wife of Bath, lines 672-end
20 (F)
The Book of Margery Kempe, pp. 425-438
Section Three: The Sixteenth Century
23 (M)
The Sixteenth Century, Introduction, pp. 531-561
Due: Thesis Workshop
25 (W)
Sir Thomas Wyatt, Sonnets, pp. 648-661
27 (F)
Sir Philip Sidney, Astrophil and Stella, pp. 1084-1093 (to #47)
30 (M)
Due: Paper #1
Sir Philip Sidney, Astrophil and Stella, pp. 1093-1101
2 (W)
Christopher Marlowe, Doctor Faustus, pp. 1127-1147
4 (F)
Christopher Marlowe, Doctor Faustus, pp. 1147-1165
7 (M)
No Class
9 (W)
Shakespeare, Sonnets 94, 130, 138, 147
Excerpt from Madhavi Menon’s Shakesqueer (online)
11 (F)
Fall Break (No Class)
14 (M)
Elizabeth I, Speeches and Writings, pp. 753-766
Section Four: The Seventeenth Century
16 (W)
The Early Seventeenth Century, Introduction, pp. 1341-1367
John Donne, “The Flea,” “The Canonization,” and “The Relic”
18 (F)
John Donne, Holy Sonnets, pp. 1410-1415
21 (M)
Exam 1
23 (W)
Aemilia Lanyer, Selections, pp. 1431-1440
25 (F)
Ben Jonson, Selections, pp. 1540-1543 & online poems
28 (M)
John Webster, Duchess of Malfi (Acts 1 & 2)
30 (W)
John Webster, Duchess of Malfi (Acts 3 & 4)
1 (F)
John Webster, Duchess of Malfi (Act 5)
4 (M)
Critical Reading, TBD
Wrap-up Discussion of Duchess
6 (W)
Joseph Swetnam and Rachel Speght, pp. 1650-1655
8 (F)
John Milton, The Tenure of Kings and Magistrates, pp. 1846-1849
Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, pp. 1855-1867
11 (M)
Holy Poetry, Excerpts from Crashaw, Herbert, and Vaughan
13 (W)
Richard Rambuss, Excerpts from Closet Devotions (online)
Continued discussion of Holy Poetry
15 (F)
John Milton, Paradise Lost, Book 2
18 (M)
John Milton, Paradise Lost, Book 4 (lines 1-775)
20 (W)
John Milton, Paradise Lost, Book 10
22 (F)
John Milton, Paradise Lost, Book 12 (lines 466-end)
2 (M)
Margaret Cavendish, The Convent of Pleasure (online)
4 (W)
Cavendish, The Convent of Pleasure (online)
6 (F)
Due: Paper #2
Please note that our final exam will be held on Tuesday, December 10 th at 9AM.
I’ll bring the donuts and coffee; you can bring a blue book.