Course Group I

ENGL 1

Literary History I: Literature up to the mid-Seventeenth Century

This course will provide an overview of English literature from the Anglo-Saxon period through the Middle Ages and into the seventeenth century. Dist: LIT; WCult: W. Course Group I.

ENGL 10

Anglo-Saxon and Scandinavian Epic and Saga

An introduction both to Old English literature and to Old Norse sagas. In the first half of the course we concentrate on reading, translating and setting into cultural context selected Anglo-Saxon poems, most notably 'The Wanderer,' 'The Dream of the Rood,' and 'Beowulf.' In the second half of the course we read a variety of Icelandic sagas, including 'Egil's Saga,' 'The Saga of the People of Laxardal,' and two shorter sagas recounting contacts with North America. Dist: LIT; WCult: W. Course Group I.

ENGL 11

Chaucer: The Canterbury Tales

An introduction to Chaucer, concentrating on ten of the Canterbury Tales, and studying him as a social critic and literary artist. Special attention will be paid to Chaucer's language, the sounds of Middle English, and the implications of verse written for the ear. Dist: LIT; WCult: W. Course Group I.

ENGL 12

Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde and Other Poems

A study of Chaucer's major works other than the Canterbury Tales, focusing on some of the early dream visions (Book of the Duchess, House of Fame) and Troilus and Criseyde, which many consider to be the greatest love epic in the English language. Some attention will be given to the French and Italian context of these works (in translation). No familiarity with Middle English is required. Dist: LIT; WCult: W. Course Group I.

ENGL 13

Medieval English Literature

An introduction to the literature of the "Middle English" period (ca. 1100- ca. 1500), concentrating on the emergence of English as a literary language in the twelfth and early thirteenth centuries and on some of the great masterworks of the late fourteenth century. Readings will include early texts on King Arthur, the Lais of Marie de France, the satirical poem The Owl and the Nightingale, the romance Sir Orfeo, Pearl, and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, The Book of Margery Kempe, and The York Cycle. Most readings in modern English translation, with some explorations into the original language. Dist: LIT; WCult: W.  Course Group I.

ENGL 14

Renaissance Poetry

English lyric and narrative poetry from the early sixteenth century to the mid-seventeenth century. Poets will include Thomas Wyatt, Edmund Spenser, Philip Sidney, Christopher Marlowe, William Shakespeare, Ben Jonson, John Donne, George Herbert, and Andrew Marvell, among others. The course will attend to prosody, the evolution of verse forms, European and classical influence, and modes of circulation. Dist: LIT; WCult: W. Course Group I.

ENGL 15

Shakespeare

A study of about ten plays spanning Shakespeare's career, including comedies, histories, tragedies, and romances. Attention will be paid to Shakespeare's language; to his dramatic practices and theatrical milieu; and to the social, political, and philosophical issues raised by the action of the plays. Videotapes will supplement the reading. Exercises in close reading and interpretative papers. Dist: LIT; WCult: W. Course Group I.

ENGL 16

Renaissance Drama

A study of commercial theater in London from about 1570 until the closing of the theaters in 1642. Anonymous and collaborative plays will be read as well as those by such playwrights as Kyd, Marlowe, Dekker, Jonson, Webster, and Ford. The course will focus on the economic, social, political, intellectual, and theatrical conditions in which the plays were originally produced, on their continuing performance, and on their status as literary texts. Research into the performance history of a play or participation in a scene production is required. Dist: LIT; WCult: W. Course Group I.

ENGL 17

John Milton: England's Most Influential Poet

No poet has had more influence on the subsequent literature and culture of England than John Milton. Therefore no English major can be considered complete without close attention to his poetry and prose. Milton was a philosopher, dramatist, political pamphleteer, theologian, and controversialist in addition to being the author of Paradise Lost, generally considered to be the greatest poetic achievement in English.

Students in English 17 shall

  • Become expertly alert readers of Milton's major poems and prose
  • Develop a critical familiarity with ongoing professional discussions in Milton studies, including historical studies relating to Milton's first appearances in print
  • Join one or more threads of that professional discussion with a significant contribution to the understanding and interpretation of some aspect of Milton studies

Writing assignments for this course are scaffolded: a review of recent criticism, a close reading of a poem or portion of a play, and a 9-page paper suitable for delievery at a conference. The best essays will be submitted to the annual Medieval/Renaissance Forum at Keene State University.

Text for this course: The John Milton Reading Room (Links to an external site.)

Dist: LIT; WCult: W. Course Group I.

ENGL 18

Poetry, Prose, and Drama of the English Restoration, 1660-1689

Together, we shall study poetry, prose and drama written and performed during the reign of the last two Stuart kings, Charles II and James II. No period of English literature is so deeply and even obsessively concerned with both politics and religion. This makes the verse, drama and prose of John Dryden, Andrew Marvell, John Milton and John Bunyan particularly interesting. We will also take time for some comedies typical of the period by William Wycherly and William Congreve, and study Aphra Behn’s masterpiece, Oroonoko. There will be two areas of special attention:  the theater and the literary responses to public events, such as the Great Plague and Fire of 1666, the Popish Plot, and the Exclusion Crisis.

Students who successfully complete English 18 will

  • Become conversant with some of the ways English politics and religion were negotiated in the verse, drama, and prose of the Restoration period
  • Learn how to find and evaluate the professional published conversation about Restoration literature and culture
  • Take part in that conversation by composing an essay suitable for delivery at an academic conference
  • Make some portion of Restoration poetry their own by memorizing 20 lines or so of a poem or dramatic verse, recite it to the class and answer questions about its genre, meaning and art

Dist: LIT; WCult: W. Course Group I. Sample syllabus

ENGL 19

Early American Literature: Writing, Resistance, and (digital) Revolution

This course explores a multicultural history of the technologies of "writing" in North America from 1500-1800. We study three strands of that history (the pre-Columbian world; conquest and religion; European settler colonialism and the Atlantic slave trade) by focusing on four figures: Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Samson Occom, and Phillis Wheatley. All used writing in different ways to make "revolutions." Finally, we consider and contribute to the recent turn to digital archives of Early America. Dist: LIT; WCult: W. Course Group I

ENGL 51

Special Topics in Course Group I: Medieval and Renaissance Literature

These courses are offered periodically with varying content: one or more individual writers, a genre, or an approach to the literature of this historical period not otherwise provided in the English curriculum. Requirements will include papers and, at the discretion of the instructor, examinations. Enrollment is limited to 30. Dist: LIT.

ENGL 51.01

Plays, Playing and Publicity

We will read plays by Shakespeare and his contemporaries including Marlowe, Dekker, Heywood, Jonson and others. Rather than considering them primarily as authored, literary texts, however, we will investigate them as products of a professional and commercial system--not unlike Hollywood--and as popular media in an age without journalism. Plays will be grouped in clusters that foreground roughly contemporary texts and/or performances in dialogue and competition with each other. Readings will also address the physical and social spaces of performance and the controversies about theater. Students interested in twentieth-century productions of early modern plays or more general twentieth-century issues of media and performance are welcome. Dist: LIT; Course Group I.

ENGL 51.02

Shakespeare's King Lear and Macbeth: Text and Film

This course offers students the luxury of focusing exclusively on just two of Shakespeare’s tragedies­–King Lear and Macbeth–which constitute the final two of Shakespeare’s most famous four tragedies. Over the past 10 years, there have been no fewer than three major films made of each play, the latest being the brand new Macbeth, starring Michael Fassbinder. That each play still invites yet another way of imagining the play suggests both the suspicion that maybe the play hasn’t yet been done right, and simultaneously the sense that these two plays offer some kind of especially important statement for audiences in 2015. This class will focus on all such issues, textual and film production-oriented. There will be two papers and one final project. Dist: LIT; WCult: W. Course Group I

ENGL 51.03

Hamlet and King Lear: Text and Film

This course offers students the luxury of focusing exclusively on just two of Shakespeare’s tragedies. Using both the text(s) and various films of these two plays, we will begin with Hamlet, a play whose central figure is a young man, recently back from college and just now beginning to fall in love—a man whose life, in other words, would seem to offer boundless opportunities. For the title figure of King Lear, precisely the opposite conditions apply: an 80 year old father of 3 daughters who manages, in the first scene, to destroy his family and break apart the kingdom he gives away—a man who is largely responsible for the suffering he brings upon himself, and one for whom there is no time left to make amends or begin again.  So why should we care? And what is it about these two plays that makes many see them as the two greatest of Shakespeare’s tragedies? Dist: LIT; WCult: W. Course Group I

ENGL 51.13

Gender and Power in Shakespeare

The course will begin by defining the varieties of power inscribed in Shakespeare’s plays, and proceed to explore the following questions. Is language gender-inflected? Do men and women speak "different" languages? How do power and gender affect each other? How do women negotiate power among themselves? How do men? How is power exerted and controlled in sexual relationships? How do unspoken social definitions exert their power over the politics of gender? Possible works studied will be drawn from The Rape of Lucrece, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Taming of the Shrew, The Merchant of Venice, Much Ado About Nothing, As You Like It, All’s Well That Ends Well, Othello, Macbeth, Troilus and Cressida, Coriolanus, Antony and Cleopatra, and The Winter’s Tale. Dist: LIT; WCult: W. Course Group I.

ENGL 61

Junior Colloquia in Course Group I

Limited to 20 students, these courses will vary in content. They are intended to introduce students to advanced research and prepare them for their senior seminars and honors theses. Coursework and instruction will build toward a substantial paper of 12-15 pages of sustained inquiry and with a research component. Recommended prerequisites: two completed English courses, or permission of the instructor. Dist: LIT, WCult: Varies Course Group I.

ENGL 71

Senior Seminars in Course Group I

Senior Seminars, limited to 12 seniors and juniors, will vary in content. They will focus students on concentrated discussions and on a final research project of 20-25 pages. Recommended prerequisites: four completed English courses or permission of the instructor. Dist: LIT, WCult: W. Course Group I.

ENGL 71.01

Celtic Fringes: Medieval English Literature in Dialogue with Irish, Welsh, and Breton Traditions

From Arthur and Merlin to prophecy, poetry, and song, the literatures of medieval England drew heavily on the lively, imaginative, and sophisticated traditions of their Celtic neighbors, their musical styles and the particular aesthetic they brought to their poetry and narrative. In this course we will study some pairings of connected Celtic and English/Anglo-Norman texts, as well as contemporary writing about the Celtic connection. The politics of these exchanges are not easy. There were wars and border skirmishes; the Norman and Angevin kings of England sought to subdue the Celtic kingdoms and extend their political influence by diplomacy, coercion and conquest, creating a dynamic that is in some ways parallel to, but also interestingly different from a modern Colonial/Postcolonial situation. Readings may include early Arthurian material; Diarmaid and Grainne and the Anglo-French Tristan romances; Geoffrey of Monmouth's Life of Merlin and Merlinesque prophecies; the Welsh Mabinogi; lais by Marie de France and other writers; the borderland romance "Fulk Fitz Warren"; the anecdotes, satires and short romances of Walter Map; Gerald of Wales's ethnographic descriptions/ travelogues of Wales and Ireland. All non-English texts will be read in translation, although students with some knowledge of French, Latin, or a Celtic language may wish to explore some readings in the original. DIST: LIT; WCult: W. Course Group I.

ENGL 71.05

Romance in Medieval England

This course explores the diverse and elusive genre we now call “romance,” a capacious term that covers anything from chivalric adventures and love stories to quasi-hagiographic and pseudo-historical narratives, from a variety of historical and theoretical perspectives. Readings may include Middle English and Anglo-Normal romances such as Tristan, Havelock and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and selections from later Arthurian narratives. Dist: LIT, WCult: W. Course Group I.

ENGL 71.06

Milton

This course is an advanced seminar in the study of John Milton's poetry and prose, undertaken with attention to the context of Milton's life and times and current critical discussion and debate about all of these matters. Dist: LIT; WCult: W. Course Group I.

ENGL 71.12

Medieval English Drama

Beginning with the origins of European drama in the Eastertide liturgical rituals of the 11th century, this course focuses on the four great history-of-the-world plays performed in the 15th and 16th centuries in York, Chester, Wakefield, and East Anglia. Our critical approach to these Corpus Christi plays will emphasize their theatrical accomplishments, their "visceral" interpretations of Christ's protracted sufferings, and their political significance within their discrete cultural environments. The course then moves on to consider plays that were performed by acting troupes, rather than city guilds, namely the miracle play The Croxton Play of the Sacrament, and two morality plays, Mankind and Everyman. The course concludes with examination of medieval folk plays, and modern performances of medieval drama in England, South Africa, and North America. Reports, and two papers. Dist:  LIT; WCult: W. Course Group I (and IV in 15S).

ENGL 71.13

Gender and Power in Shakespeare (Senior Seminar)

The course will begin by defining the varieties of power inscribed in Shakespeare’s plays, and proceed to explore the following questions. Is language gender-inflected? Do men and women speak "different" languages? How do power and gender affect each other? How do women negotiate power among themselves? How do men? How is power exerted and controlled in sexual relationships? How do unspoken social definitions exert their power over the politics of gender? Possible works studied will be drawn from The Rape of Lucrece, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Taming of the Shrew, The Merchant of Venice, Much Ado About Nothing, As You Like It, All’s Well That Ends Well, Othello, Macbeth, Troilus and Cressida, Coriolanus, Antony and Cleopatra, and The Winter’s Tale. Dist: LIT; WCult: W. Course Group I.