Pre-1900 Courses

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 Summer 2019


ENGB06 Canadian Literature to 1900

Instructor: Karina Vernon

A study of Canadian literature from pre-contact to 1900. This course explores the literatures of the "contact zone", from Indigenous oral and orature, to European journals of exploration and discovery, to the works of pioneer settlers, to the writing of the post-Confederation period.


ENGB27 Charting Literary History I

Instructor: Urvashi Chakravarty

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.


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 imporatnt literary texts in English that retell classical myths.


ENGB35 Children’s Literature

Instructor: Christine Bolus-Reichert

An introduction to children's literature. This course will locate children's literature within the history of social attitudes to children and in terms of such topics as authorial creativity, race, class, gender, and nationhood.


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 & 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.


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.


ENGC35 Imagined Communities in Early Modern England, 1500-1700

Instructor: Urvashi Chakravarty

A study of the real and imagined multiculturalism of early modern English life. How did English encounters and exchanges with people, products, languages, and material culture from around the globe redefine ideas of national, ethnic, and racial community? In exploring this question, we will consider drama and poetry together with travel writing, language manuals for learning foreign tongues, costume books, and maps.


ENGC42 Romanticism

Instructor: Anne Milne

A study of the Romantic Movement in European literature, 1750-1850. This course investigates the cultural and historical origins of the Romantic Movement, its complex definitions and varieties of expression, and the responses it provoked in the wider culture. Examination of representative authors such as Goethe, Rousseau, Wollstonecraft, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Blake, P. B. Shelley, Keats, Byron and M. Shelley will be combined with study of the philosophical and historical backgrounds of Romanticism.


ENGD14 Topics in Early Modern English Literature and Culture

Instructor: Yulia Ryzhik

Topic: Shakespeare and Satire

We will read several of Shakespeare's plays in the context of early modern satirical traditions, their sources, influences, and afterlives. To what extent did Shakespeare engage with contemporary debates over the form and function of satire--particularly the fashionable formal verse satire, with its cultivated harshness and obscenity? How do his plays compare with the more overtly satirical dramas of his contemporaries and rivals? We will consider satire from a theoretical perspective, especially in relation to hierarchies of class, race, and gender, and will interrogate the ability (or inability) of satire to address social injustice. Through plays such as As You Like It, Troilus and Cressida, Othello, King Lear, and Timon of Athens, we will see how Shakespeare puts diverse satirical modes into conversation and develops his own satirical strategies. 



ENGB50 Women and Literature: Forging a Tradition 

Instructor: Ann Gangé

An examination of the development of a tradition of women's writing. This course explores the legacy and impact of writers such as Christine de Pizan, Julian of Norwich, Mary Wollstonecraft, Anne Bradstreet, Margaret Cavendish, Jane Austen, Mary Shelley, Emily Dickinson, and Margaret Fuller, and considers how writing by women has challenged and continues to transform the English literary canon.