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The course is a combination of English Studies, Literary Studies, and History. Students will learn about the history of English literature but also about the texts, works, writers, ideas, themes, and basic concepts of English writing. The course will explore fiction, non-fiction, poetry, plays, and other forms of literature written in the English language. 

In this course we shall also explore English literature by engaging with several great writers and works from the history of English writing – Anglo-Saxon writers, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, Defoe, Byron, Shelley, Blake, Austen, the Brontë sisters, Woolf, Dickens, Greene, Auden, and Orwell. Emphasis will be based on how these individual writers, and their works, contributed to the overall development of English literature as well as their connection to English society and history.

Course outline

This course is an introductory course on English Literature, for students who are interested in learning about the ideas, themes, history, and development of English writing. The course covers all the major periods of English literature from the beginning of the English language to the present day. The course is primarily for students who are interested in reading English Literature and who wish to develop their skills in understanding the main books, figures, history, and ideas of English writing.

The specific sessions of the course include:

  • Session 1 – Anglo-Saxon Literature
  • Session 2 – Medieval English Literature 
  • Session 3 – Early Modern English Literature
  • Session 4 – Eighteenth-Century English Literature
  • Session 5 – Nineteenth-Century English Literature 
  • Session 6 – Twentieth-Century English Literature 

Learning outcomes

After studying the course, students should be able to:

  • Have an introductory understanding of English literature.
  • Have a basic understanding of the history of English literature, from 450 CE to the present.
  • Identify some of the key connections between English literature and British society.
  • Critically evaluate the themes and ideas of English literature, and its role in British and international society.
  • Gain some skills to think rigorously, analytically, and critically about English literature and the set texts discussed in the course – from Anglo-Saxon literature to the present day. 
  • Develop some interest in the key writers, texts, and genres of English literature.
  • Develop some understanding of the importance of history and society in the development of English literature.

Who should enrol

The course is designed for anyone who is interested in learning about English literature between 450 CE and the present.

Course materials

The course is designed as an introduction to English literature, so it is advised that students familiarize themselves with the key texts of classical English literature. A bibliography shall be provided to students.

Specifically students should consider the following set texts:

  • Beowulf, (700-1000 CE)
  • Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales, (1400 CE)
  • William Shakespeare, Henry IV Part 2, (1596-1599)
  • William Shakespeare, The Tempest, (1610-1611)
  • John Milton, Paradise Lost, (1667/1674)
  • Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe, (1719)
  • Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice, (1813)
  • Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility, (1811)
  • Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre, (1847)
  • Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights, (1847)
  • William Blake, Songs of Innocence and Experience, (1789-1794)
  • Lord Byron, Don Juan, (1819-1824)
  • Percy Shelley, The Masque of Anarchy, (1819)
  • Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse, (1927)
  • Charles Dickens, Great Expectations, (1860-1861)
  • Graham Greene, Brighton Rock, (1938)
  • W.H. Auden, September 1, 1939, (1939)
  • George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four, (1949)

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