Effective Date of this Description/Syllabus: Fall 2011

Prepared by: Dr. Rhonda Wilcox

Office: Fine Arts 202

Phone: (678)359-5296

email: rhonda_w@gordonstate.edu

Fall office hours: TR 12:30—1:45; 3:30-4:15; W 10:00—2:00





Course Designation: English 2121

Course Title: British Literature I

Class hours per week: 3

Credit hours: 3

Division offering course: Humanities

Prerequisite for the course: A C or better in English 1101.


Course description for college bulletin: A study of important works of British literature from the Old English period through the Neoclassical Era.


Teacher’s Course objectives:

To acquaint students with seminal works of British literature and the cultural milieux in which they were produced;

To give students a background for appreciating the values and concerns of modern literature by studying the traditions which preceded it;

To awaken in students an interest in literatures and cultures quite different from their own and an awareness of literary/cultural richness and diversity; in short—

To have fun.


Humanities Division Literature Course Objectives


Course Objectives: Upon completion of ENGL 2121, British Literature I, the student will have:

  1. gained awareness of major writers and literary periods in the canon of British Literature.
  2. demonstrated competence in literary analysis.
  3. demonstrated an understanding of fundamental literary and critical terminology.
  4. developed an awareness of aesthetic experiences as a dimension of life by demonstrating competence in literary studies.

If you need academic accommodations for a disability, you must first see Ms. Kristina Henderson, Student Counselor, in the Student Center (second floor). Her telephone number is 678-359-5585.


Course Content:

                The course plan is to focus on the following works/authors; others will also be assigned:

Beowulf; Marie de France; Chaucer; Julian of Norwich; Margery Kempe; Morte Darthur; Spenser; Shakespeare; Jonson;  Donne; Herbert; Marvell; Herrick;  Milton; Congreve; Behn; Dryden; Pope; Swift; Johnson; Equiano , and others. These are literally world-famous stories, poems, and plays. People have enjoyed them around the world. However, if you do not budget enough time for your reading, you may start to view them as a burden rather than a pleasure. Instead, expect to take a great deal of time—then relax and enjoy yourself. The best pleasures cannot be hurried.


Required Text: The Norton Anthology of English Literature. Vol. 1. 8th ed. Ed. Stephen Greenblatt. New York: Norton, 2006.

Grading:               Class participation/pop quizzes:      15%

First Paper:                                            15%

Second Paper:                                      15%

Midterm Exam:                                    25%

Final Exam:                                          30%

Standards: A=90-100, B=80-89, C=70-79, D=60-69. There will be some opportunities for extra credit.


Your failure to do any assignment listed above (except a limited number of pop quizzes) will result in your failing the course. If you believe you have a good reason for being excused from a pop quiz, discuss it with me promptly; I will decide on a case-by-case basis whether or not to keep the zero, excuse the quiz, or give a make-up with or without grade penalty.

                Your first paper should not have outside sources: it should represent your own response to the reading, supported by copious specific evidence from the reading, including multiple quotations. The subject should be one of the pieces of literature from our text; the specific subject choice must be approved by me beforehand. A planning conference is required.

Your second paper will be a researched assignment. You may choose to do either an annotated bibliography with oral presentation or a traditional term paper. Again, the subject must be approved.

                MLA form for quotation, bibliography, etc., should be used for both these assignments.

                Your exams (midterm and final) will include some “objective” questions (e.g. identifying quotations, recognizing historical/biographical information and terms); they will also include some discussion questions. Each exam will cover approximately half the course work.


Attendance policy: Without class discussions and lectures, you might as well read this literature on your own. You will find that experiencing a group’s reaction to a piece of writing is something that cannot be recreated through merely reading class notes. This is not just a lecture class. Furthermore, you can contribute to the class: thoughtful questions can be just as valuable as insightful comments (though they should be the questions of a person who has read the material). Missing classes will reduce your ability to contribute and will therefore lower your class participation grade. Furthermore, specific in-class activities will be used to help establish your participation grade, and in most cases these activities must be carried out during a particular class period.If you must miss a class, let me know beforehand if you can (or leave a phone or email message even during class if need be); ask me or a classmate about assignments so you can prepare in case there is a pop quiz when you return to class. My home phone number is (404)373-5328. If you cannot contact me or a classmate, then read the next assignment listed on the syllabus.

Student Evaluation of Instruction: Near the end of this course, you may be asked to evaluate the instruction of the course. Your honest responses will help make this a better course. Also, please feel free to make suggestions during the course. Remember, I want to hear from you.



N.B. If a specific title is not given, then read all the material by that author in our book.

Beginning, not ending, page numbers of the assignment are given.

Week One: 8/16-18: Introduction; Beowulf, page 34

Week Two:8/23-25: Beowulf cont’d;  Layamon, “[King] Arthur’s Dream,” 124; Various artists,
“The Myth of Arthur’s Return,” 127; Marie de France, “Lanval,” 142

Week Three: 8/30-9/1: Chaucer: General Prologue, 218; Prologues/tales for: Miller, 239;  Wife of Bath, 256; Pardoner, 28

Week Four: 9/6-8: “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight,” 160; Julian of Norwich, 372; Margery Kempe, 384

Week Five: 9/13-15: Malory, Morte Darthur, 439; Spenser: The Faerie Queene Book I, 719; “Epithalamion,” 907; Elizabeth I, poems, 688, 695

Week Six: 9/20-22: Paper One (short essay) due; Shakespeare’s sonnets, 1063: sonnets numbered18, 29, 30, 73, 87, 116, 129, 130, 138, 147

Week Seven: 9/27-29: Midterm exam; Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, 1077

Week Eight: 10/4-6: Twelfth Night, continued

Last day to drop classes without penalty is Thu. Oct. 6

Week Nine: 10/11-13: Fall Break Mon-Tues; Jonson; Donne: poems TBA

Week Ten: 10/18-20: Lovelace, Marvell, Herrick, poems TBA; Congreve, 2228

Week Eleven: 10/25-27: Herbert, poems TBA; Milton: Paradise Lost Books I, II, 1830; sonnets, “When I Consider…” and “Methought I Saw…,” 1828

Week Twelve: 11/1-3: Behn: Oroonoko, or the Royal Slave, 2183; Dryden, “Essay of Dramatic Poesy,” 2125; Pope: Essay on Man, 2540

Week Thirteen: 11/8-10: Swift, A Tale of a Tub, 2315; Burney, 2811

Week Fourteen: 11/15-17: Boswell: Life of Johnson, 2779; Johnson, On Twelfth Night, 2764, and “[A Brief to Free a Slave],” 2849; Equiano, The Interesting Narrative of the Life…, 2850

Week Fifteen: 11/22-24: Gray, “Elegy…,” 2867;  Goldsmith, 2877; Thanksgiving break Wednesday-Friday

Week Sixteen: 11/29-12/1:Review;  Paper Two (Term papers and/or oral presentations with annotated bibliographies) due

Final Exam: Thursday December 8, 1:30-3:30


Additional readings and writing may be assigned. Please see your email from me for information on Turnitin.com. And please check your email often.