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Pre-1900 Courses

Gothic arches and medieval text artifacts

Our department is committed to studying English literature in context, as texts indeliby connected to their cultural, regional, and historical moments of production. We also want our students to have a rounded and grounded experience of literature from different times and spaces, and a sense of the traditions and narratives of English literature as a discipline. For that reason, Specialists and Majors must take the historical survey courses ENGB27 and ENGB28 (which, as B-level courses, are also open to anyone), and are also required to take a certain number of courses with predominantly pre-1900 content.

The designation "Pre-1900" actually covers the vast majority of time that English has been around (let alone the millennia covered by "literature" as a broader category), and includes a wide variety of topics, texts, and areas of focus. We know that the idea of studying English from a past time can be daunting, but we encourage you to start exploring the trove of options as soon as you can in your undergraduate career. This page includes all the current pre-1900 courses offered for the year, and we encourage you to contact professors if you have any questions about content or expectations. Please also remember to check the Registrar's Calendar for any pre-requisites or recommended preparation.

Click HERE for Fall 2022, or HERE for a review of the Winter 2023 courses.

 

FALL 2022 PRE-1900 COURSES 


ENGB08 American Literature to 1860

Instructor: Neal Dolan

An examination of Early American literature in historical context from colonization to the Civil War. This introductory survey places a wide variety of genres including conquest and captivity narratives, theological tracts, sermons, and diaries, as well as classic novels and poems in relation to the multiple subcultures of the period.

 

ENGB27 Charting Literary History I 

Instructor: Kara Gaston

An introduction to the historical and cultural developments that have shaped the study of literature in English before 1700. Focusing on the medieval, early modern, and Restoration periods, this course will examine the notions of literary history and the literary “canon” and explore how contemporary critical approaches impact our readings of literature in English in specific historical and cultural settings.

ENGB27 is a required course for our English Specialist, English Major. You can explore our degree requirements and routes through the program HERE.

 

ENGB30 Classical Myth & Literature  

Instructor: Laura Jane Wey

The goal of this course is to familiarize students with Greek and Latin mythology. Readings will include classical materials as well as important literary texts in English that retell classical myths.

 

ENGB31 The Romance: In the Quest of the Marvelous

Instructor: Kara Gaston

A study of the romance a genre whose episodic tale of marvellous adventures and questing heroes have been both criticized and celebrated. This course looks at the range of a form stretching from Malory and Spenser through Scott and Tennyson to contemporary forms such as fantasy, science fiction, postmodern romance, and the romance novel.

 

ENGB32 Shakespeare in Context I

An introduction to the poetry and plays of William Shakespeare, this course situates his works in the literary, social and political contexts of early modern England. The main emphasis will be on close readings of Shakespeare's sonnets and plays, to be supplemented by classical, medieval, and renaissance prose and poetry upon which Shakespeare drew.

 

ENGC27 Drama: Comedy

Instructor: Laura Jane Wey

A historical exploration of comedy as a major form of dramatic expression. Comedy, like its more august counterpart tragedy, has been subjected to centuries of theoretical deliberation about its form and function. In this course, we will read representative works of dramatic comedy and consider how different ages have developed their own unique forms of comedy.

 

ENGC29 Chaucer

Instructor: Kara Gaston

Selections from The Canterbury Tales and other works by the greatest English writer before Shakespeare. In studying Chaucer's medieval masterpiece, students will encounter a variety of tales and tellers, with subject matter that ranges from broad and bawdy humour through subtle social satire to moral fable. 

 

ENGD48 Studies in Major Victorian Writers

Advanced study of a selected Victorian writer or small group of writers. The course will pursue the development of a single author's work over the course of his or her entire career or it may focus on a small group of thematically or historically related writers.

 

ENGC69 Gothic Literature 

Instructor: Christine Bolus-Reichert

A study of the Gothic tradition in literature since 1760. Drawing on texts such as Horace Walpole's The Castle of Otranto, Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey, Henry Jame's The Turn of the Screw, and Anne Rice's Interview with the Vampire, this course will consider how the notion of the "Gothic" has developed across historical periods and how Gothic texts represent the supernatural, the uncanny, and the nightmare of the unconscious mind. 

 

ENGD43 Topics in Romanticism, 1750-1850

Instructor: Yulia Ryzhik

Topics in the literature and culture of the Romantic movement. Topics vary from year to year and may include Romantic nationalism, the Romantic novel, the British 1790s, or American or Canadian Romanticism. 

 

WINTER 2023 PRE-1900 COURSES 


ENGB28 Charting Literary History II 

Instructor: Yulia Ryzhik

An introduction to the historical and cultural developments that have impacted the study of literature in English from 1700 to our contemporary moment. This course will familiarize students with the eighteenth century, Romanticism, the Victorian period, Modernism, and Postmodernism, and will attend to the significance of postcolonial and world literatures in shaping the notions of literary history and the literary “canon.”

 

ENGC10 Studies in Shakespeare 

Instructor: Laura Jane Wey

An in-depth study of selected plays from Shakespeare's dramatic corpus combined with an introduction to the critical debates within Shakespeare studies. Students will gain a richer understanding of Shakespeare's texts and their critical reception.

 

ENGC25 Victorian Poetry and Prose

Instructor: Christine Bolus-Reichert

An introduction to the poetry and nonfiction prose of the Victorian period, 1837-1901. Representative authors are studied in the context of a culture in transition, in which questions about democracy, social inequality, the rights of women, national identity, imperialism, and science and religion are prominent. 

 

ENGC26 Drama: Tragedy

Instructor: Christine Bolus-Reichert

An exploration of major dramatic tragedies in the classic and English tradition. European philosophers and literary critics since Aristotle have sought to understand and define the genre of tragedy, one of the oldest literary forms in existence. In this course, we will read representative works of dramatic tragedy and investigate how trafedy as tragedy as a genre has evolved over the centuries. 

 

ENGD48 Studies in Major Victorian Writers

Instructor: Sonja Nikkila

Advanced study of a selected Victorian writer or small group of writers. The course will pursue the development of a single author's work over the course of his or her entire career or it may focus on a small group of thematically or historically related writers. 

Bolus-Reichert,