Effective Date of this Description/Syllabus: Spring 2019

Prepared by: Dr. Rhonda Wilcox

Office: Honors House 104

Phone: (678) 359-5296

email: rhonda_w@gordonstate.edu

Office hours: T 11:00-12:20, 2:00-3:15, 5:00-5:30;

W 11:00-12:20, 4:30-5:30; R 11:-12:20, 2:00-3:15





Course Designation: English 3220

Course Title: Renaissance British Literature

Class hours per week: 3

Credit hours: 3

Division offering course: Humanities

Prerequisite for the course: A grade of C or better in English 1102 and completion of a 2000-level English course

If you need academic accommodations for a disability, you should contact the Office of Counseling Services, in the Student Center (second floor). You may call that office at 678-359-5585.


Course description for college bulletin: A survey and study of  Renaissance British Literature.


Teacher’s Course objectives:

For students to gain a thorough knowledge and genuine enjoyment of a selection of the period’s best works;

For students to gain understanding the cultural milieux in which these works were produced;

For students to acquire a background for appreciating the values and concerns of modern literature by studying the traditions that preceded it;

For students to be confident that they can appreciate Renaissance literature outside the classroom.



Course Content:

We will cover the writings of Sir Thomas More, Elizabeth I, Edmund Spenser, Christopher Marlowe, William Shakespeare, John Donne, Ben Jonson, George Herbert, Katherine Philips, Andrew Marvell, John Milton, and others. (See the Tentative Schedule.) We will be reading world-famous creations; people have enjoyed them for generations. 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 good amount of time—then relax and enjoy yourself. The best pleasures cannot be hurried.


Required Texts:

The Norton Anthology of English Literature, Volume B, The Sixteenth Century and the Early Seventeenth Century, Tenth Edition, edited by Stephen Greenblatt, et al. Norton, 2018. ISBN 978-0-393-60303-3

Grading: Standards: A=90-100, B=80-89, C=70-79, D=60-69 (B+=88; B=85; B-=82, C+=78, etc.)


Class participation/pop quizzes:                         10%

Short Papers:                                                    20%

Term Paper:                                                     25%

Midterm Exam:                                                20%

Final Exam:                                                      25%


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 or other in-class work, 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. If you know that you are going to need to miss a class, call or email me beforehand if at all possible in order to avoid grade penalty.

Each student will write an Author Report, choosing a different author (from a list) on whom to write a short (500-700 word) biographical/historical/critical introduction (with bibliography) and read it aloud to the class when we cover the author. Each student will also sign up for a particular Shakespeare sonnet and write a short (700-1000 word) Sonnet Analysis of it and read the sonnet aloud to the class. Each student will also, near the end of the semester, write a short (400-500 words) persuasive Literary Choice Essay, making the case for choosing a particular piece or section of literature as our reading for the last week; students will read their essays aloud and the class will vote to choose the last week’s reading assignment(s). These short essays averaged together constitute 20 percent of your grade. Your Term Paper (3000-4000 words or more) will present your view on one or more of the plays/poems/prose selections, using research to explore the topic but expressing your own opinion. The subject must be approved. If you have a strong opinion—either admiration or irritation based on the literary text, or a sense that you have a point you need to make—then that is the subject you should probably choose.

                Your exams (midterm and final) will include some “objective” questions (e.g. identifying quotations; matching biographical/literary terms and historical context, etc.); they will also include some essay/discussion questions that will require interpretive responses. 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. (Significant tardiness will do the same.) 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. People that miss more than three weeks of classes normally cannot keep up and thus fail the course as a result. 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 landline phone number (which I maintain for my students) is (404) 373-5328. Leave a voicemail giving your name and phone number (either home or office, 678 359 5296) if you call me and I do not answer. If you cannot contact me or a classmate, then read the next assignment 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.


Plagiarism, Cheating:

            The English faculty of Gordon College views any form of cheating as a serious violation of commonly accepted standards of honesty. (I. e., don’t be a dirtbag.) All student work must be solely that of the person submitting the work (unless the teacher has approved a collaboration). Any giving or receiving of unauthorized help from others or from notes or other materials during the course of taking a quiz, test, or exam or in writing a paper will result in an F on the work; any use of forbidden materials such as rough drafts during the course of in-class writing will also result in an F for the assignment. Note that an F on the work involved in cheating is the minimum punishment; a zero on the work is another possible consequence; if justified by aggravating circumstances, the matter may be referred to the Academic Dean or (according to a rule approved by the Faculty Senate in Fall 2009) the Dean of Students. See the Academic Dishonesty Policy in the Academic Catalog.

            Moreover, when source materials are used in the writing of papers, the student must document such use of sources both by clearly indicating material being used as quotation and by giving proper recognition when an idea or information has been paraphrased or summarized; the following principles enunciated in the section on avoiding plagiarism in James D. Lester's Writing Research Papers: A Complete Guide, 8th edition, should be scrupulously observed:


1. Acknowledge borrowed material by introducing the quotation or paraphrase with the name of the authority. This practice serves to indicate where borrowed materials begin.

2. Enclose within quotation marks all quoted materials.

3. Make certain that paraphrased material has been rewritten into your own style and language. The simple rearrangement of sentence patterns is unacceptable. [To illustrate: It is unacceptable to simply rearrange sentence patterns.]

4. Provide specific in-text documentation for each borrowed item. For example, MLA [Modern Language Association] style requires [scholar’s] name and page for all in-text references. Requirements differ for other fields . . . .

5. Provide a bibliographic entry on the Works Cited page for every source cited in the paper.

6. Omit sources consulted but not cited in [your paper]. This point is important.You do not want your instructor leafing back through the paper trying to find your use of a source that, in truth, was not cited. (140-41)


Note, by the way, that the indention of the material above indicates that it is quoted.


Furthermore, you must avoid collusion. Here is a definition from the Humanities Department Chair:

Collusion is defined as receiving excessive help to the point that a work can no longer be considered the product of a single author and therefore cannot be accurately assessed an individual grade. If I suspect a submitted work to be the result of collusion, I reserve the right to refuse credit for that work if the claimed author is unable to demonstrate sole authorship. A good way to avoid this problem is to get help from the Student Success Center rather than from family or friends.


I may or may not decide to have you submit some of your work to Turnitin.com. Terms and Conditions of Use may be found at http://www.turnitin.com/static/usage.html.


In general, if you have a question, feel free to ask it. Also feel free to come by and talk to me about literature during office hours. My goal is for you to learn and to enjoy learning.


ADA and 504

If you have a documented disability as described by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Section 504, you may be eligible to receive accommodations to assist in programmatic and/or physical accessibility.  The Counseling and Accessibility Services office located in the Student Center, Room 212 can assist you in formulating a reasonable accommodation plan and in providing support in developing appropriate accommodations to ensure equal access to all GSC programs and facilities.  Course requirements will not be waived, but accommodations may assist you in meeting the requirements.  For documentation requirements and for additional information, contact Counseling and Accessibility Services at 678-359-5585. 

Title IX

Gordon State College is committed to providing an environment free of all forms of discrimination and sexual harassment, including sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking.  If you (or someone you know) has experienced or experiences any of these incidents, know that you are not alone. All faculty members at Gordon State College are mandated reporters.  Any student reporting any type of sexual harassment, sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence or stalking must be made aware that any report made to a faculty member under the provisions of Title IX will be reported to the Title IX Coordinator or a Title IX Deputy Coordinator.  If you wish to speak with someone confidentially, you must contact the Counseling and Accessibility Services office, Room 212, Student Life Center.  The licensed counselors in the Counseling Office are able to provide confidential support.


Gordon State College does not discriminate against any student on the basis of pregnancy, parenting or related conditions.  Students seeking accommodations on the basis of pregnancy, parenting or related conditions should contact Counseling and Accessibility Services regarding the process of documenting pregnancy related issues and being approved for accommodations, including pregnancy related absences as defined under Title IX.


Religious Holidays: Gordon State College acknowledges that the academic calendar can sometimes conflict with major holidays from among our diverse religious traditions.  If a student must miss class due to the observance of a religious holiday, that absence may be excused.  To be excused, the student must inform his/her instructors before the absence and make alternate arrangements for any work due at the time of the absence.  An excused absence for the observance of a religious holiday does not excuse a student from responsibility for required course work. If you are going to be absent for a religious holiday, tell me by the end of week 2.


P.S. re Harry’s House:

The mission of Harry’s House is to distribute food and toiletries to students to alleviate stress associated with short term food insecurity and other financial constraints in order to effectively reduce hunger and support educational success.







Read the material before the class period in which it is listed below; it will be discussed during the class period in which it is listed. If you miss class, keep up with the reading listed below. Some listings are excerpts from a longer work. When a specific selection is not listed, then read all the material in the book under a given title or author.


Week One (1/10) Introduction; note that Author Reports are due at the beginning of the first period the author is covered in class.


Week Two (1/15) Sir Thomas More, Utopia, pages 47-118 (including letter); (1/17) Book of Common Prayer, pp. 162-64; Elizabeth I, “Verses Written with a Diamond,” p. 222; further writings pp. 229-234; Mary Queen of Scots. “A Letter to Elizabeth I,” p. 212-214


Week Three (1/22) Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queen, Letter; Book I, Cantos 1-3, pp. 249-89; (1/24) Cantos 4-5, pp. 289-315


Week Four (1/29) The Faerie Queen continued, Cantos 6-10, pp. 315-82; (1/31) Cantos 11-12, pp. 382-406


Week Five (2/5) Sir Philip Sidney, Astrophil and Stella 1,5,7,16,18,20,28,45,71,87, pp. 586+; Mary (Sidney) Herbert, Countess of Pembroke, “Psalm 139,” pp. 606-608; (2/7) Christopher Marlowe, Doctor Faustus, Scenes 1-5, pp. 680-699


Week Six (2/12) Doctor Faustus, continued, Scenes 6-end, pp. 699-715; (2/14) Shakespeare, Twelfth Night, Act 1, pp. 741-56

Week Seven (2/19) Twelfth Night, continued, Act 2, pp. 756-770; (2/21) Act 3, pp. 771-787

Week Eight (2/26) Twelfth Night, Act 4-5, pp. 787-802 (2/28) Midterm Exam

Monday March 4: Last day to drop classes without WF


Week Nine (3/5) Shakespeare’s Sonnets; Sonnet Analysis due; (3/7) John Donne, Songs and Sonnets, pp. 923-42


Week Ten (3/11-15) SPRING BREAK


Week Eleven (3/19) John Donne, continued, Holy Sonnets and poems and Meditation 17, pp. 960-71; (3/21) Ben Jonson, poems, pp. 1089-1109


Week Twelve (3/26) Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy, pp. 1240-1246; Sir Thomas Browne, Religio Medici, pp. 1247-1255; (3/28) Sir Francis Bacon, Essays and other prose, pp. 1213-1236


Week Thirteen (4/2) George Herbert, The Temple, pp. 1257-1276; (4/4) Robert Herrick, “Delight in Disorder,” “His Farewell to Sack,” “Corinna’s Going A-Maying,” pp. 1308-1312; Richard Lovelace, “To Lucasta, Going to the Wars,” p. 1329, “To Althea, from Prison,” pp. 1331-1332


Week Fourteen (4/9)) Katherine Philips, “A Married State,” “Upon the Double Murder of King Charles,” “Friendship’s Mystery, To My Dearest Lucasia,” “To Mrs. M.A., at Parting,” “On the Death of My First and Dearest Child, Hector Philips,” pp.1334-39; Andrew Marvell, “To His Coy Mistress,” pp. 1346-47; Term Paper due; (4/11) John Milton, Paradise Lost, Book I, pp. 1495-1514

Week Fifteen (4/16) Paradise Lost, Book II, pp. 1514-1537; (4/18) Book 3, 1537-1553; Milton’s Sonnets, pp. 1489-93; Aemilia Lanyer, “Eve’s Apology,” pp. 983-86


Week Sixteen (4/23) Literary Choice Essays and class vote for choice of literature to read; (4/25) Literature from our text chosen by the class


Week Seventeen (4/30) Literature from our text chosen by the class



Additional work may be assigned. Any variation in syllabus policy is at the instructor’s discretion.