Literature Survey Courses

General Survey Courses: Descriptions, Objectives and Student Learning Outcomes

English 250

English 251

English 260

English 261

English 270

English 271

Literature Survey Course Descriptions

Prerequisite: Completion of English 111 and 112 or their equivalents.
The surveys do not have to be taken in sequence.

200-001 Introduction to English Studies TR 9:30-10:45 CRN: 41281
Jeff Longacre

“You know, for majors . . .”

What does it mean to major in English? Is English just one discipline or an umbrella over a variety of sub-disciplines? Is it just the study of literature? Or is it the study of language? Or is it practicing the craft of writing? Is it all of these things? When you graduate, what do you plan on doing with a degree in English? These will be some of our guiding questions as we explore the “ins,” “outs,” and “what-have-yous” of our major. This course will address the significance and even the vital importance of your decision to major in English in the twenty-first century. In addition to preparing you for upper-division course work in the discipline itself through introduction to some major critical approaches to language and literature, we will also explore how to use the major to your advantage, and what it can do for you in the post-graduation wider world of “real life.” We will also spend some time discussing graduate school options as well as the—perhaps surprising—variety of other career paths of the modern English major.


250-001 British Literary Tradition I MWF 8:00-8:50 CRN: 41226
Chris Hill
This will be a fast-paced, reading-intensive introduction to the beginnings of English literature. Starting with Beowulf, we will read multiple works involving knightly heroism, love and desire, and how people determine what makes for true goodness. We will focus on social and material contexts of the works we read, but we will also spend a good amount of time discovering how writers respond to each other and to the demands of the forms they choose to write in: epic, romance, lyric, drama, religious prose, and so on. Major writers we are sure to cover include Shakespeare and Chaucer, Milton and Pope, Jonson and Johnson, Sidney and Donne.


250-002 British Literary Tradition I MWF 1:00-1:50 CRN: 41264
Daniel Pigg
Discover the adventures that shaped British culture and literary traditions as they emerged. Where did they begin? How do monsters, villains, heroes, tyrannical leaders, devils, philosophers, and chivalric “knights” help to create those traditions? In English 250, students examine literature written in Britain from approximately the eighth century to 1798. In this section of English 250, we will focus on issues of growing political and literary identity, personal introspection and examination, and conceptual otherness as social constructs. Literature including Beowulf, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, a couple of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, Dr. Faustus, Othello, Paradise Lost, Oroonoko, Gulliver’s Travels, and Rasselas present these issues in differing and intriguing ways. Students will develop an understanding of the literary traditions in Britain in the context of historical, political, economic, religious, and philosophical developments.


251-001 British Literary Tradition II MWF 2:00-2:50 CRN: 41272
Lynn Alexander
With the rise of industrialization and the extension of empire in the nineteenth century, Great Britain became the most powerful nation in the world. Its literature reflects both its increasing power and the problems that accompany its rise. During the twentieth century, we see how the social and political issues begin to shift power structures so that by the close of the century the sense of empire is gone. As we read the literature of these two centuries, we will look at three key cultural influences: class, gender, and ethnicity. We will also look at major forms of poetry, fiction, and prose to understand the links between art and society.


260-001 American Literary Tradition I TR 1:00-2:15 CRN: 41293
John Glass
It’s about more than Pilgrims and whales. Students in English 260 will read and discuss works by major and some minor authors who shaped and continue to reflect the culture and character of America from the arrival of the first European explorers to the crisis and the division of the Civil War. Assignments will focus on understanding individual readings within the broader cultural contexts in which they appear. Study and discussion will be guided by overarching questions about the forming of America’s national character and the relationship between the concerns and desires of those long dead and the lives and ideas of those now living. Students should expect to read extensively, participate meaningfully in class discussions, write two papers, and take mid-term and final exams.


261-001 American Literary Tradition II MWF 9:00-9:50 CRN: 41235
Melvin Hill
This course is a chronological survey of American literature that begins with the literature of realism and naturalism written after 1865 and concludes with a sample of the contemporary memoir. The course provides a broad overview of what constitutes American literature from the Civil War to the present. We will read and study works of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction prose, including autobiographies written by a range of writersmen and women of diverse backgrounds and interests. Our objective will be to study some of the many voices that constitute what we call American literature, addressing questions such as: How does gender, race, and class affect the creation and reception of a literary text? What constitutes a literary canon? What does “American” mean?

261-002 American Literary Tradition II TR 11:00-12:15 CRN: 41288
David Williams
This course surveys American literature from the mid-nineteenth century to the present. We will explore a broad range of literary works and their cultural implications. Significant attention will be paid to the ways in which each work reflects the cultural realities of its day, suggests the psychology of its author, and demonstrates the changing nature of our country. Highlighted authors include Walt Whitman, Eugene O’Neill, William Faulkner, and Sylvia Plath—all authors whose influences can still be felt today. Student writing and presentations will play an important role in the course, as will lively class discussion.

270-001 World Literature MWF 9:00-9:50 CRN: 41236
Chris Hill
Students in English 270 will read a selection of masterpieces of world literature from different genres—epic, tragic and comedic drama, poetry, and narrative prose. While paying special attention to the particular qualities and effects of each kind of work, and the ways in which these works are constructed, we will think about the kinds of stories humanity has told and why we continue to tell the stories we do. What does it suggest about cultures, about humanity, about ourselves that stories told thousands of years ago can still move readers in the twenty-first century? Authors covered will include Homer, Sophocles, Virgil, Boccaccio, Dante, and Cervantes.


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