English 258: Major English Authors I


Textbook Availability

If you were unable to acquire the textbook by the beginning of the semester, you may download the first readings by clicking the links below:

Please print these PDF documents and bring them with you to class (after reading them, of course).

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The course surveys English literature from the Anglo-Saxon period to the middle of the eighteenth century, encompassing a number of major writers and important genres and themes. The course aims to provide a basic context for understanding literature written during the first millennium of English literary history by focusing on the historical and cultural contexts in which the literature was written and the changing conventions it employs. Note: This course does not attempt in depth readings of the texts; instead, it emphasises understanding the historical contexts which formed the basis for all intellectual and material culture during the period studied. As such, you will be expected to learn (i.e. remember) a fair amount of history: names, dates, and cultural terminology. This is a crash course on all the chronological background you may have missed out on but which is crucial for understanding the origins and early development of western culture.

Students in this course will:

  • Acquire a basic knowledge of the early period in British literature from the sixth to the eighteenth centuries, including historical, cultural, and intellectual influences.
  • Acquire some familiarity with works by major authors from the early period in British literature.
  • Acquire a basic familiarity with the language of early British literature.
  • Practice reading and writing about early British literature using critical reading skills and the written conventions of literary criticism.