Brock university st. Catharines, Ontario engl 1F91, Section 3 English Literature: Tradition and Innovation

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St. Catharines, Ontario
ENGL 1F91, Section 3

English Literature: Tradition and Innovation (Fall & Winter 2003-2004)
Instructor: Dr. James Allard

Teaching Assistants: TBA

Office: MC A318

Voice Mail: (905) 688-5550 ext. 3531


Office Hours: Tues. 3:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m., Wed. 11:00 a.m - 12:00 p.m., or by appt.

Course Web Page:

***Please Note: This syllabus is intended to clarify the requirements for course readings and assignments, outline the regulations we all must follow, and offer some strategies for succeeding in the course. You are therefore responsible for knowing the contents of this syllabus.***
Course Description
Calendar Description
Works from the mediaeval to the contemporary period, including such authors as Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, Swift, Wordsworth, the Brownings, Woolf and Rushdie. Genres include tragedy, romance, epic, and the novel.
Detailed Description
This course serves as both an historical survey of literature in English and an introduction to the study of literature and literary history at the university level. It is designed to engage students in a critical exploration of the ways in which intellectual, moral, and cultural issues are raised and addressed in literature, and to examine their continuing importance in our lives. The structure of the course traces, too, the development of literary forms, ideas, and attitudes in the history of English literature from the medieval period through the 21st century. But over and above any of these considerations, the course aims to begin to teach you how to be sensitive and critical readers of all kinds of texts; how to develop a greater sense of awareness about what exactly it is you do when you read (how you make connections within and between texts and ideas, what kinds of things you find important, what kinds of questions or ideas interest you, and so on); how to articulate these readings to a critical audience effectively; and, perhaps most importantly, how to develop further and sharpen a set of complex skills that you already possess and that you will employ every single day of your lives--after all, we’re really talking about reading, thinking, and writing. Be sure to visit and bookmark the course web pages at for a further breakdown of the course’s aims and procedures.
Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice. 1813. Ed. Claudia L. Johnson and Susan J. Wolfson. Toronto: Longman, 2003. [This text will be bundled together with the course anthology, so you will not have to buy it separately.]

Damrosch, David, ed. The Longman Anthology of British Literature. 2 vols. 2nd Compact ed. Toronto: Longman, 2003.

Woolf, Virginia. To the Lighthouse. 1927. Ed. Margaret Drabble. Toronto: Oxford UP, 1999. [This text will not be available in the bookstore until near the end of the first term.]
Troyka, Lynn Quitman. Simon and Schuster Handbook for Writers. 3rd Canadian Ed. Toronto: Prentice-Hall, 2002.

I also recommend, especially if you plan to be an English major, that you get a good dictionary and a dictionary of literary terms. I’m happy to recommend some to you if you do not already own such texts and, of course, a wide variety can be found in the library.

Assignments and Grading Scheme
Fall Term
Seminar Attendance and Participation 10%

Essay One (1000 words; approx. 4 pages) 5% (Due October 9, 2003)

Essay Two (1250-1500 words; approx. 5-6 pages) 10% (Due November 20, 2003)

Mid-Year Examination 15% (Scheduled by the University)

Winter Term
Seminar Attendance and Participation 10%

Essay Three (1250-1500 words; approx. 5-6 pages) 10% (Due February 5, 2004)

Essay Four (1750-2000 words; approx. 7-8 pages) 15% (Due March 30, 2004)

Final Examination 25% (Scheduled by the University)

Please note that essays will be given a letter grade (on a scale from A+ to F) which will be converted to the appropriate number value when final grades are prepared for submission. Consult the Calendar, page 44 (or the section on “Evaluation” on the web at ."> ), for University grading guidelines. All grading will be done by your seminar leader; if you have a question about your grade on a particular assignment, or wish to discuss strategies for improving, see your seminar leader first.
Seminar Attendance and Participation (10% Fall + 10% Winter = 20% Total)
Regular attendance at seminar sessions is mandatory, and attendance will be taken regularly; occasional absences are sometimes unavoidable, but you should make every effort to attend every session. Make careful note of the following statement on the course web page: “Students who have not attended at least 80% of course lectures and seminars per term will forfeit the right to extended commentary on essays.” However, simple attendance, even perfect attendance, will guarantee neither top marks for this portion of your final grade nor greater success in the other course requirements, but regular attendance coupled with consistent, active participation may do both. “Active participation” primarily means preparing a 1-page draft response to the day’s seminar question(s); while these responses will not be collected and formally graded, you may occasionally be asked to volunteer to read or summarize your responses as a way to initiate general discussion and debate. There are no “right” or “wrong” responses, only thoughtful contributions to on-going debates: a response that begins with, “I didn’t understand what Chaucer meant when he said this because I didn’t quite figure out the language, but here’s what I think might be going on,” is, in many cases, just as if not more generative than a response that aims to “get it” and offer a long philosophical discussion right from the start. But please also remember that active participation can mean many things in addition to your answer to the day’s questions: engaging respectfully and rigorously with both the seminar leader and other students; offering productive comments concerning the readings, lectures, and seminar materials; and simply asking questions about words, phrases, and ideas you don’t understand all count as active participation. Furthermore, to do as well in the course as possible, make sure you come to every class fully prepared. Being prepared means primarily three things: first, actively read (that is, with a pen in hand and note paper and dictionary near by) the week’s material before you come to class; second, bring all necessary material (this syllabus, your notes including your response to the day’s seminar question, the text for the day, and so on); third, come prepared with questions, comments, or other contributions to class discussion.

Essay Assignments
The specific guidelines for the two essay assignments are detailed below, but these general guidelines apply in all cases; please read all guidelines carefully before you begin. Choose one of the suggested topics, and remember that the earlier you begin thinking about the assignment the better the finished product will be. If you wish, you may explore a variation on one of the suggested topics (and note that for all but the first paper the last suggestion is to develop a topic of your own), but be sure to discuss your ideas with me or your seminar leader before you go too far into the process. In all cases, remember that an essay is an argument: you must develop a clear and explicit thesis based on careful close readings of the primary text or texts, defend that thesis with carefully chosen and discussed textual evidence, and provide a conclusion in which you suggest the relevance of your argument. Essays should be word-processed or typed, double-spaced, and printed on plain, white, 8½ X 11 paper. Staple essays in the upper left-hand corner; please do not use folders or plastic covers. All essays must be formatted according to MLA guidelines; consult The MLA Handbook for the Writers of Research Papers,, the documentation section of most writing handbooks, your seminar leader, or the instructor if you are unsure how to use the MLA. Please consult the “Class Policies” section of this syllabus for information about assignment submission, late penalties, and so on.
Essay One (5%; 1000 words; Due October 9, 2003)

Choose one of the topics listed below and write a 1000-word essay (roughly 4 pages, word-processed or typed and double-spaced). For this essay, you will be focussed on a careful close reading of a single short text or short part of a longer text both to begin putting into practice for yourself some of the close-reading strategies we have been discussing in lectures and seminars and to begin exploring the relationship between critical reading and critical writing. You should as close to these questions as possible and do no research for this assignment: we are interested in hearing what you have to say about the text you have chosen to discuss.

1. Read carefully the opening of Chaucer’s “General Prologue” (lines 1-18). With careful reference to the text itself, write an essay in which you offer an explanation for why Chaucer goes to such lengths to let us know that the pilgrimage takes place at the beginning of spring.

2. Read carefully the narrator’s description of the Prioress in “The General Prologue” (lines 118-62). With careful reference to the text itself, write an essay in which you discuss the effect of the narrator’s detailed attention to the Prioress’ appearance.

3. Read carefully lines 101-38 of “The Pardoner’s Prologue.” With careful reference to the text itself, write an essay in which you discuss why the Pardoner pays more attention to how he preaches than to what he preaches.

4. Read carefully Shakespeare’s sonnet 55. With careful reference to the text itself, write an essay in which discuss whether the narrator is really praising the beloved or the poem.

Essay Two (10%; 1250-1500 words; Due November 20, 2003)
Choose one of the suggested topics (topics will be provided on October 9, 2003) and write an essay between 1250 and 1500 words in length (roughly 5-6 pages, word-processed or typed and double-spaced). For this essay, you will compare two short texts (or short parts of texts) in order to explore how the juxtaposition of one text with another affects your reading of both. Once again, you should do no research for this assignment: we are interested in hearing what you have to say about the interrelations between the texts you have chosen to discuss.
Essay Three (10%; 1250-1500 words; Due February 5, 2004)
Choose one of the suggested topics (topics will be provided during the first week of classes in January) and write an essay between 1250 and 1500 words in length (roughly 5-6 pages, word-processed or typed and double-spaced). For this essay, you will begin to learn how to incorporate secondary readings into your argument will still maintaining focus on your own thoughts and impressions of the primary material. You must incorporate at least one (1) but no more than two (2) secondary sources into your argument based on a careful close reading of one text (or part of one text); “incorporation” can mean either quoting or paraphrasing the words or ideas of another person. We will talk more about sources and how to use them as the term proceeds, and you are encouraged to discuss your ideas about your topic and possible sources with your seminar leader or instructor as early as you can.
Essay Four (15%; 1750- 2000 words; Due March 30, 2004)
Choose one of the suggested topics (topics will be provided before Reading Week) and write an essay between 1750 and 2000 words in length (roughly 7-8 pages, word-processed or typed and double-spaced). This paper should begin to look like a standard University-level research paper: you will incorporate multiple primary and secondary sources in an effort to develop an tight and coherent argument about something important to you. You must use a minimum of two (2) but no more than four (4) secondary sources in your discussion of at least two (2) primary texts.
Examinations (15% Mid-Year and 25% Final; both scheduled by the University)
The exams are cumulative; in other words, the mid-year exam in December will cover all of the material from the Fall term, September to December, and the final exam will cover material from the entire course, September to April. We will discuss the exams in greater detail--including study strategies and tips--as the course proceeds.
Class Policies
Note that the following policies reiterate and amplify statements that appear on the course web page. It is the responsibility of all students to familiarize themselves with these policies.
Assignment Submission
Written assignments are to be submitted directly to the instructor at the beginning of class or placed in the essay deposit box outside the English Department Office (MC A310) by 3:30 p.m. on their due date. DO NOT, under any circumstances, slide your paper under an office door; papers submitted this way will not be accepted for grading. Email submissions will be accepted only as an absolute last resort and only if followed by a hard-copy within 24 hours; seminar leaders will not print out essays for you, and the date and time on the email will count as the time of submission (however, emailed papers not submitted in hard-copy within 24 hours will begin accumulating late penalties). The instructors do reserve the right to ask students to submit essays in electronic form, either on disk or as an attachment, and to keep copies of essays for our files. Furthermore, instructors reserve the right to meet with students before returning graded essays.
Late Penalties and Extensions
Late assignments will be penalized at the rate of 2% per day late (including weekends), to a maximum of 20% of the grade for that particular assignment. After ten (10) days, a late assignment will not be accepted and a grade of zero (0) will be registered. Extensions will only be granted in case of illness (with medical certificate) or other extenuating circumstances, and arrangements must be made with the instructor before the assignment deadline. Instructors have the right not to accept essays submitted after the due date or an extension date.
Academic Misconduct
Plagiarism and other forms of academic misconduct are serious offenses and will be treated as such. Students are responsible for knowing what constitutes such offenses, and students committing them will be penalized to the fullest extent allowed by the University (see the University’s statement, definitions, and policies regarding academic misconduct available in the Calendar or on the web at .">; the course web pages contain summaries of these statements). Note, as well, that the University subscribes to, a web-based plagiarism detection system; see the links at for more information regarding this service. I do, of course, understand the difference between mistakes and explicit attempts to commit fraud, but every effort should be made to avoid making mistakes that may lead to a very serious misunderstanding. If you are at all unsure if you are citing something correctly, or using a source properly, or have any questions relating to these policies, be sure to speak to your seminar leader or the instructor at any time in person, by email, or over the phone.
Class and Reading Schedule
All texts, with the exception of the Austen and Woolf novels, can be found in the course anthology; the numbers in square brackets refer to the volume and page numbers in the anthology. Please note that you are expected to have read all material before the class in which we will begin discussing it and to come to class, especially the seminars, prepared to ask and answer questions about the material for that day. The comments and series of questions provided under the heading of “Seminar” each week are designed to provide a framework for discussion; use the questions as a guide as you prepare your 1-page draft answer/notes for the week’s seminar, but feel free to disagree (thoughtfully and respectfully, of course) with the statements, question the terminology, and so on. Remember, though, that your primary goal is to respond to the day’s readings; don’t get side-tracked by a vague, philosophical discussion that’s not tied to the text(s). As class discussions proceed, we can spend more or less time on some texts as students’ interests dictate; thus, the titles for each day are given here in the order in which they appear in the anthology and not necessarily in the order or priority with which they will be discussed.
Sept. 4: Welcome and Introduction
The Middle Ages
Sept. 9: “The Middle Ages” [A: 3-25]

Sept. 11: Geoffrey Chaucer, “General Prologue” [A: 252-71]

Seminar: What does the word “literature” mean to you? Why is it important that we read and study it? Is it important at all? More specifically for the moment, what does “medieval” mean to you, in general and in the context of this course? As a side note, come prepared with any questions you may have about the syllabus or the course in general.
Sept. 16: Chaucer, “The General Prologue,” cont.

Sept. 18: Chaucer, “The Pardoner’s Prologue” [A: 315-19]: Guest Lecturer, Professor Neta Gordon

Seminar: Why do you think it’s important to note that Chaucer wrote The Canterbury Tales in the “vernacular” (look that word up if you don’t know what it means)? Chaucer, or at least the narrator “Geoffrey,” provides detailed description of most of the pilgrims; what effect do you think this will have on a reading of the tales themselves? Besides providing a framework and background for the coming tales, what else does Chaucer seem to be doing in “The General Prologue”?
Sept. 23: Chaucer, “The Pardoner’s Tale” [A: 319-30]

Sept. 25: Chaucer, “The Pardoner’s Tale,” cont. and “The Retraction” [A: 350]

Seminar: Both Geoffrey in “The General Prologue” and the Pardoner in his prologue and tale demonstrate a concern with what language is and how it works; how are their treatments of language and story-telling similar? how are they different? What about their focus on the teller rather than the tale--similarities? differences?
The Early Modern Period (16th and 17th Centuries)
Sept. 30: “The Early Modern Period” [A: 391-411]; Sir Thomas Wyatt, “Whoso List to Hunt” [A: 420]

Oct. 2: Edmund Spenser, sonnets 1[A: 579] and 75 [A: 580] from Amoretti; Sir Philip Sidney, sonnets 1 [A: 592] and 71 [A: 593] from Astrophil and Stella

Seminar: Does Chaucer’s “Retraction” undercut the social commentary and criticism we’ve seen in what we’ve read of the text, or does it underscore his comments and criticisms?
Oct. 7: William Shakespeare, sonnets 18 [A: 737] and 130 [A: 741]; Lady Mary Wroth, sonnets 16 [A: 817-18] and 77 [A: 819]

Oct. 9: Shakespeare, Twelfth Night; or, What You Will, Act 1 [A: 743-55]; **Essay One must be submitted directly to your seminar leader at the beginning of the lecture.**

Seminar: We talked in class about the strict nature of the sonnet form, the seemingly “confining” rules of the form itself. Read carefully again one of the sonnets (by Wyatt, Spenser, or Sidney) and discuss the relationship between the text’s form and its content--the connection between what it says and how it says it. Does the strictness of the sonnet form seem to help or hinder the poets as they try to make their point?
Oct. 14: Shakespeare, Twelfth Night, Acts 2 & 3 [A: 755-82]

Oct. 16: Shakespeare, Twelfth Night, Acts 4 & 5 [A: 782-96]

Seminar: **Thanksgiving; no seminar this week. As per the notes in the Undergraduate Calendar, a make-up seminar will be held on Thursday, December 4th.**
Oct. 21: John Donne, sonnets 6 [A: 815] and 10 [A: 815] from Holy Sonnets; George Herbert, “The Altar” [A: 851] and “Easter Wings” [A: 851]

Oct. 23: Donne, “The Flea” [A: 810]; Robert Herrick, “To The Virgins, to Make Much of Time” [A: 848]; Andrew Marvell, “To His Coy Mistress” [A: 855-56]

Seminar: We discussed the conventions of “courtly love” in class, and I suggested (following numerous critics) that Shakespeare parodies those conventions throughout this play. But to parody conventions one has to use them, so what do you think is the ultimate effect here: does Shakespeare successfully undermine the conventions of courtly love and make fun of them, or does he reinforce them and imply that they have some kind of value (and, if so, what kind of value does he give them)? We also talked about the traditional role of the Fool in Early Modern drama; choose one of Feste’s songs or speeches and discuss how it contributes to our understanding of the play as a whole.
Oct. 28: John Milton, from Paradise Lost, Book 1 [A: 921-40]

Oct. 30: Milton, from Paradise Lost, Book 1, cont.

Seminar: Do you see any similarities between the deeply religious and the highly sexual poems of Donne, between the Holy Sonnets and “The Flea”? What about between a poem like Herbert’s “Easter Wings” and Herrick’s “To the Virgins”? It’s fairly easy to see the relation between the form and content of Herbert’s poems (though, if you disagree, make your case), but what about in the other poems? Choose one of the other poems (by Donne, Herrick, or Marvell) and discuss form and content.
Nov. 4: Milton, from Paradise Lost, Book 9 [A: 987-1013]

Nov. 6: Milton, from Paradise Lost, Book 9, cont.

Seminar: What in the first book of Paradise Lost would lead many later readers to conclude that Satan, rather than Adam or Christ, is the real hero? Read carefully again Satan’s speech at 1.242-70 and write a paraphrase of it. Do you think Satan is really happier in Hell, or do you think the speech suggests something else? Make your case either way.
The Restoration and Eighteenth Century
Nov. 11: “The Restoration and Eighteenth Century” [A: 1041-64]

Nov. 13: Aphra Behn, Oroonoko [A: 1134-75]

Seminar: Read carefully again Satan’s temptation speeches, 9.532-48 and 9.568-612, and outline his argument: what strategies does he use to try to convince Eve to eat the fruit? Read carefully again Eve’s speech at 9.795-833 and compare it with one of her prelapsarian speeches (see, for example, 9.205-25, 9.273-89, or another of your choosing, and be sure to look up “prelapsarian” if you’re not sure what it means); what’s different about her language, about what she says and how she says it?
Nov. 18: Behn, Oroonoko, cont.

Nov. 20: Jonathan Swift, from Gulliver’s Travels, from “Part 4” [A: 1198-1231]; **Essay Two must be submitted directly to your seminar leader at the beginning of the lecture.**

Seminar: How does Behn remind her readers that Oroonoko is a novel about paradise lost, and why do you think she does that? Though the novel’s main character is the slave prince, Behn also examines the plight of the marginalised woman in a hierarchical or patriarchal society; paraphrase the novel’s statements on this issue. How are Behn’s treatment of women and the slave prince similar? how are they different? Do the connections (assuming you see connections) help or hurt her cases?
Nov. 25: Swift, from Gulliver’s Travels, from “Part 4,” cont.

Nov. 27: Alexander Pope, from An Essay on Criticism [A: 1241-47]

Seminar: Though frequently identified as the “Age of Reason,” the Neoclassical period of English literature is often characterized by a deep suspicion of excessive rationalism; how does Swift’s depictions of the Houyhnhnms both celebrate and critique reason? Identify some of the dystopian features of Houyhnhnmland and explain why Swift included them in this seemingly utopian place.
Dec. 2: Thomas Gray, “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard” [A: 1374-77]

Regular Seminar, Mon. Dec. 1: Paraphrase Pope’s statements regarding the critics; how would you characterize Pope’s relation with the critics? out-right hatred? grudging respect? casual dismissal? something else? Try to paraphrase what you think Pope is saying about the relation between poetry (perhaps art in general) and nature? What is it about the classical poets that Pope so admires?

Make-Up Seminar, Thurs. Dec. 4 (follow a normal Monday schedule): Mid-Year Exam Review. Students should come prepared with focussed study questions; your seminar leaders will be happy to answer questions to the best of their ability, but they will not repeat the entire term’s work.
***Good Luck with all of your exams!***
***Enjoy your Holidays! See you in the New Year!***
**Please note that seminar topics for the second term will be provided before the Holiday Break.**
The Nineteenth Century
Jan. 6: “The Romantics and Their Contemporaries” [B: 3-28]; William Blake, “The Tyger” [B: 88-89]

Jan. 8: William Wordsworth, “Lines Written a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey” [B: 202-06]
Jan. 13: Samuel Taylor Coleridge, “The Eolian Harp” [B: 325-26]; Felicia Hemans, “Woman and Fame” [B: 414-15]

Jan. 15: Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice (pages 5-119, “Volume I”)
Jan. 20: Austen, Pride and Prejudice (pages 119-208, “Volume II”)

Jan. 22: Austen, Pride and Prejudice (pages 208-329, “Volume III”)
Jan. 27: Percy Bysshe Shelley, “Ozymandias” [B: 399] and “Ode to the West Wind” [B: 399-401]; John Keats, “On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer” [B: 423-24]

Jan. 29: “The Victorian Age” [B: 451-73]; Elizabeth Barrett Browning, sonnets 13 [B: 530] and 28 [B: 531] from Sonnets from the Portuguese
Feb. 3: Alfred, Lord Tennyson, “Ulysses” [B: 593-94]

Feb. 5: Robert Browning, “My Last Duchess” [B: 663-65]; Christina Rossetti, “In an Artist’s Studio” [B: 758-59]; **Essay Three must be submitted directly to your seminar leader at the beginning of the lecture.**
Feb. 10: Elizabeth Gaskell, “Our Society at Cranford” [B: 691-705]

Feb. 12: Rudyard Kipling, “Without Benefit of Clergy” [B: 723-36]
***Reading Week***

Feb. 24: Matthew Arnold, “Dover Beach” [B: 751-52]; Gerard Manley Hopkins, “God’s Grandeur” [B: 774-75]

Feb. 26: Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest [B: 848-86]
The Twentieth Century
Mar. 2: Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest, cont.

Mar. 4: “The Twentieth Century” [B: 921-42]; William Butler Yeats, “The Second Coming” [B: 1122-23]
Mar. 9: Thomas Hardy, “The Convergence of the Twain” [B: 1076-77]; W. H. Auden, “Musée des Beaux Arts” [B: 1333]

Mar. 11: T. S. Eliot, “The Wasteland” [B: 1203-15]
Mar. 16: Eliot, “The Wasteland,” cont.

Mar. 18: Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse (pages 7-167, “The Window”)
Mar. 23: Woolf, To the Lighthouse (pages 197-281, “The Lighthouse”)

Mar. 25: Woolf, To the Lighthouse (pages 171-94, “Time Passes”)
Mar. 30: Samuel Beckett, “Krapp’s Last Tape” [B: 1375-80]; **Essay Four must be submitted directly to your seminar leader at the beginning of lecture.**

Apr. 1: Beckett, “Krapp’s Last Tape,” cont.
Apr. 6: Salman Rushdie, “Christopher Columbus and Queen Isabella of Spain Consummate Their Relationship” [B: 1366-71]

Apr. 8: Sound Poetry [“texts” to be provided in class]
Apr. 13: Wrap-Up and Exam Review.

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