ENG 202 - Survey of English Literature

English 202: Survey of English Literature, from Beowulf to the Romantics

Welcome to English 202

This course is devoted to the study of English literature from its earliest roots to the beginning of the Romantic Age—literature from the eighth century (give or take) to just before 1800. Because the course covers 1000 years, it will lay out cultural contexts in broad strokes, but with enough specificity that you will be able to differentiate the literature of, say, the Middle Ages from that of the seventeenth century.

In many ways, the time periods covered in the course lay down the foundations for the modern world. We will give particular attention to how the modern world has its roots in these earlier texts. I hope that you will see the texts of the course as a “distant mirror,” to use historian Barbara Tuchman’s excellent phrase, of our own age and its concerns.

By the end of the term, you will be able to:

  • explicate the broad outlines of English history and culture that inform the texts: medieval (Old and Middle English), Renaissance (sixteenth and seventeenth centuries), and eighteenth century
  • learn the major writers from each period and be able to place them in their historical and cultural contexts
  • demonstrate your ability to discuss specific texts in both informal and formal writing, from class discussion to formal essays
  • demonstrate the basics of  literary research in your formal essays: citations, bibliographies, and formatting according to MLA guidelines