British Literature is a survey course in writings from the Anglo-Saxon period to the 20th century. Students read a variety of poetry, drama, and prose, including essays, short stories, and novels. Authors and genres studied include medieval ballads and lyrics; Beowulf; Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales; Shakespearean tragedy and comedy; the sonnet form (Shakespeare; Spenser); 17th century metaphysical poetry; 18th century poetry and prose (Pope and Swift); Romantic lyrics, odes, and ballads; 19th century poetry; 20th century short stories and novels.
There is also an emphasis on British history’s influence on literary themes and content, as well as the evolution of the English language itself. Relevant vocabulary is taught and practiced. Composition instruction emphasizes proper grammatical construction, precision, and clarity of expression, and depth of analysis. Students write a variety of analytical and critical essays, and have the opportunity to write reflection papers, and original creative works of prose and poetry.