©D.W. Mosser

ENGL 2515

Survey of British Literature

Daniel Mosser

Office: Shanks 229

(540) 231-7753

Classroom: Torgersen 1040

FAX: 231-5692

CRN 92771

Office Hours: 2-3 TR & by appointment

Fall 2010: TR 12:30-1:45PM

Scholar Site

©D.W. Mosser


This course examines the literature of the Old, Middle, and Early Modern English periods and the contexts (literary, historical, social) that informed it. Some texts that we will read include Beowulf, Chaucer's "General Prologue" to the Canterbury Tales, the "Pardoner's Prologue and Tale," Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, selections from Morte Darthur, Book 1 of Spenser's Fairie Queene, Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, Books I & IX of Paradise Lost, extracts from Pepys' Diary, and Gulliver's Travels. Evaluation will be based on translation critiques, quizzes, a paper/project, midterm, and final exam.


Norton Anthology of English Literature 1a+1b+1c + the (free) Beowulf Prose Norton Critical Edition 2e [ISBN for the bundle is 978-0-393-16893-8]

(These will be referred to as "NAEL" and "Donaldson," respectively.)



Translation critiques


Term paper/project


Quizzes (minus 3 lowest), class participation




Final exam


Plagiarism is a violation of the Tech Honor System and, more to the point, a violation of intellectual integrity. Such violations will be subject to the severest academic penalties. DON'T DO IT! If you don't understand what plagiarism is, be sure to visit the link at the head of this paragraph. If you still have questions, or have questions at anytime during the semester, ASK BEFORE YOU TURN IN YOUR WORK.

If you need adaptations or accommodations because of a disability (learning disability, attention deficit disorder, psychological, physical, etc.), if you have emergency medical information to share with me, or if you need special arrangements in case the building must be evacuated, please make an appointment with me as soon as possible.




[Readings are to be done before class on the date they are assigned]

Revised Sept. 30 to update page references to NAEL 8th ed.

Tues., Aug. 24

Introductory sort of stuff: resources, language, etc.

Thur., Aug. 26

NAEL 1a, pp. 1-23; Donaldson, vii-xiv; Beowulf (through line 835, or p. 16 in the Donaldson translation)

Tues., Aug. 30

Finish Beowulf

Thurs., Sept. 2

Discuss translations of Beowulf and first translation critique assignment

Tues., Sept. 7

No Class; Quiz 1 due by midnight (See Scholar "Tests and Quizzes"); read NAEL 1a, pp. 24-7: "Cędmon's Hymn"; begin Sir Gawain: pp. 160-72, through line 490

Thurs., Sept. 9

No Class; Finish reading Sir Gawain; work on Translation Critique

Tues., Sept. 14

Discuss Sir Gawain

Thurs., Sept. 16

Quiz 2 due by midnight; begin Chaucer's General Prologue: pp. 213-29, through line 446

Tues., Sept. 21

Finish the General Prologue; Quiz 3 due by midnight

Thurs., Sept. 23

Pardoner's Prologue & Tale; first translation critique due by midnight

Tues., Sept. 28

Morte Darthur, pp. 438-56

Thurs., Sept. 30

NAEL 1b, The English Bible (617-22); "The First Examination of Anne Askew" and John Foxe (628-32); Ascham, "The Schoolmaster" (641-45).

Tues., Oct. 5

Spenser's Faerie Queene, pp. 705-8; 714-42 (Headnote, first two cantos of Book I); "Roadmap" to Book I of the Faerie Queene"; Quiz 4 due by midnight

Wed., Oct. 6

Take-home midterm due by midnight

Thurs., Oct. 7

Faerie Queene, pp. 742-820 (Book I, cantos 3-9)

Fri., Oct. 8

Fall Break

Tues., Oct. 12

Faerie Queene, pp. 820-56 (to end of Book 1)

Thurs., Oct. 14

Sidney, The Defense of Poesy, headnotes (pp. 947-8; 953-4); pp. 954-75; Marlowe, headnote (pp. 1002-4); "The Passionate Shepherd to His Love" (1022); Quiz 5 due by midnight

Tues., Oct. 19

Shakespeare's Sonnets, NAEL 1b, pp. 1058-77

Thurs., Oct. 21

Twelfth Night pp. 1077-1108 (Acts 1 & 2); second translation critique due by midnight

Tues., Oct. 26

Quiz 6 due by midnight; Twelfth Night (finish)

Thurs., Oct. 28

Video clips of Twelfth Night

Tues., Nov. 2

NAEL 1b, 1234-62; Donne, "The Flea" (1263), "Song" (1264-5), "The Bait" (1274), "Elegy 19. To His Mistress Going to Bed" (1283-4); Aemilia Lanyer (1313-14); "Eve's Apology in Defense of Women" (1317-19), "The Description of Cooke-ham" (1319-24); Ben Jonson (1324-6); "To Penshurst" (1434-6); "To the Memory of William Shakespeare" (1444-6); NAEL 1b, Andrew Marvell (1695-7); "To His Coy Mistress" (1703-4)

Thurs., Nov. 4

NAEL 1b, John Milton, (1785-9); Paradise Lost, Book 1: pp. 1831-50

Tues., Nov. 9

NAEL 1b, Milton, Paradise Lost, Book 9: pp. 1973-98; Quiz 7 due by midnight

Thurs., Nov. 11

NAEL 1c, pp. 2057-82; Dryden (2083-4), "In Praise of Chaucer" (2132); Pepys' Diary, (2133-42); John Locke (2151-2); "Concerning Human Understanding" (2152-5); Samuel Johnson (2664-6); "A Dictionary of the English Language" (2749-55); "The Preface to Shakespeare" (2755-66)

Tues., Nov. 16

Swift (2301-3), Gulliver's Travels, pp. 2323-56

Thurs., Nov. 18

Swift, Gulliver's Travels, pp. 2356-405; Quiz 8 due by midnight

Nov. 20-26
Thanksgiving Break

Tues., Nov. 30

Swift, Gulliver's Travels, pp. 2405-49

Wed., Dec. 1

Term papers/projects due

Thurs., Dec. 2

Quiz 9 due by midnight; finish Gulliver's Travels; Dream of the Rood (NAEL 1a, pp. 27-9).

Tues., Dec. 7

Evaluations; Final Exam info.

Tuesday, December 14: 10:05AM-12:05PM

Final Exam




Translation Critiques

Since much of what we read in the early part of this class is translated from an early form of English into a modern equivalent, it is worth considering, I think, what that means: on the plus side, this makes your access to those texts easier and expedites your reading of the material. But there is always a trade-off involved in reading a translated text, and these excercises are intended to make you more aware of these consequences.

We will practice for these by looking at several translations of a passage from Beowulf and the "original." The two texts you will write on will be Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and early English translations of the Bible. Your critiques should be 2.5-3 pp. each and consider issues such as word choice (does a particular word or phrase constrain meaning in a particular way, provide greater resonance or ambiguity, or what?); reflection of poetic devices in the original (where appropriate: e.g., rhyme, alliteration); syntax (the organization of words into phrases and sentences); clarity of expression. For the Bible passages you won't really have an "original" to work from, so you will have to look closely at what the passages have in common and consider the impact of the ways in which they vary.

In evaluating your critiques, I will look at how well you frame your discussion (thesis statement), its organization, your use of specific detail to support and illustrate the assertions of your thesis, and the quality of your own writing (cohesiveness, word choice, sentence structure, absence of grammatical and mechanical problems). More details as we get closer to the first assignment...





The quizzes for this class are available through the Scholar site for our class. You will have two opportunities to take a quiz, with the highest score being the one recorded as your grade, but note that the quizzes are compiled from question pools and the likelihood of having the same quiz twice is generally remote. Quizzes are worth a maximum of 5 points each; I will drop the three lowest scores (or as many as there might end up being over the six that will be counted) . Any quizzes taken after the day and time the quiz is due will receive no higher than half credit. Be sure to click on the "Submit for grading" button at the bottom of the quiz!

Here is a tentative description of what the quizzes will cover:

Quiz 1 covers the Introductory Material in NAEL 1a, Beowulf.

Quiz 2 covers "Cædmon's Hymn" and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.

Quiz 3 covers Chaucer's General Prologue, and the Pardoner's Prologue and Tale.

Quiz 4 covers the Morte Darthure, NAEL 1b, pp. xxxvi-1, pp. 538-542; 547-553; 565-567.

Quiz 5 covers The Faerie Queene, Book 1; Sidney (933-4; 935-54); Marlowe (970-1;989-90).

Quiz 6 covers Twelfth Night .

Quiz 7 covers the Donne, Lanyer, and Johnson readings (NAEL 1b, pp. 1209-35; 1236; 1237-8; 1256-7; 1281-2; 1287-92; 1292-4; 1399-1401; 1414-16; 1684-5; 1691-2); John Milton (1771-74); Paradise Lost, Books 1 and 9.

Quiz 8 covers NAEL 1c, "Introduction: (pp. 2045-70); Dryden (2071-2); "In Praise of Chaucer" (2121-2); Pepys' Diary, (2122-31); Locke (2145-6); "Concerning Human Understanding" (2146-50); Johnson (2660-2); "A Dictionary of the English Language" (2719-25); "The Preface to Shakespeare" (2725-36); Gulliver's Travels, pp. 2329-64.

Quiz 9 covers Gulliver's Travels, pp. 2364-2479.


























The modern Globe Theatre, Southwark. [back]

Detail from the tomb of John Gower at Southwark Cathedral. The effigy's head rests on his three major works: Vox Clamatis (in Latin), Mirour de l'omme, also known as the Speculum Meditantis (French), and Confessio Amantis (English). [back]