English 340: British Literature 1 – Medieval/Early Renaissance
Tu/Th 9:30 – 10:45 am ✣ Administration Building 431 ✣ Spring 2005
Dr. Brooke A. Stafford Office: CA 304C
firstname.lastname@example.org Office Hours: Tu/Th 11am – 12pm & by appointment
Phone: 280-3828 Course website: mockingbird.creighton.edu/english/Stafford
✣Course Overview ✣In this course we are charged with a monumental task: to conduct a survey of British literature from its beginnings to 1600. It is impossible for this course to provide “complete coverage” of the period’s important literature; however, we will read many important texts from the Medieval and early Renaissance periods during the term. We will use these representative texts to trace out a variety of developments in early English literature including the movement from an oral to a written tradition, shifts in genre, and issues of changing audiences throughout the term. We will also read these texts in terms of their historical and cultural contexts in order to gain a better understanding of how the literature responds to and shapes the society out of which it grew. In addition, we will consider how studying this early literature matters to us as 21st-century readers.
✣ Course Goals ✣The primary goals of this course are as follows:
1. To foster a greater sense of familiarity and comfort with reading and understanding Medieval and early Renaissance texts. By the end of this semester, you should be comfortable with reading texts written during this time period – you should have a sense of what questions to ask about these early texts and of how to engage critically with them.
2. To read these texts figuratively – to go beyond “what it says” in order to think about “what it means” by gaining greater familiarity with the language of these texts and to develop skills in “unpacking” this language.
3. To engage in conversations about these texts that will lead to the development of arguments that address larger “cultural conversations.”
4. To develop and support arguments about the texts, arguments, and conversations we engage with; to develop your own argument about a text that is well thought out and to be able to articulate, support, and defend it both verbally and in writing.
5. To create a learning environment in which all participants take a responsible and active role in the creation of knowledge.
To achieve these goals, all of us will have to arrive in class prepared and ready to go. It is essential that reading is done on time and that it is done thoughtfully.
✣Texts and Materials ✣The following required texts are available at the bookstore. Be sure to buy the editions listed below so that we can all (literally) be on the same page when discussing texts in class.
The Longman Anthology of British Literature Vols. 1A and 1B (2nd edition) Ed. David Damrosch Middle English Romances. Ed. Stephen H. A. Shepherd
You must also have access to the following:
- A good college-level dictionary
- A good writer’s handbook. I like the following: The Everyday Writer, Andrea Lunsford; A Writer’s Reference, Diana Hacker; MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 6th Edition.
- Your CU email account – I will occasionally send emails to the class using the Blackboard email function. These go to your CU email and I will expect that you check it regularly.
✣Course Requirements ✣✣Reading Quizzes
As one demonstration of your preparedness, you will need to be prepared for a number of quizzes given throughout the semester. These quizzes will not be announced in advance, so be sure to come prepared each day. Quizzes will cover main points of the day’s required reading. Together, these quizzes will comprise 100 points.
During the semester, you will write three (3) 2 full to 3 page close reading papers. For each paper, you will analyze a particular passage, theme, or image in your chosen text in the context of the complete text. This assignment asks you to pay extra close attention to the language of the texts we read from a formal as well as a metaphoric perspective. These shorter papers provide you with an opportunity to test out some ideas that you might develop later in your longer paper, as well as to get some feedback on your writing throughout the term.
Due dates for the papers will be staggered so that some are due most every day. Thus, we will often draw on the response papers due on any given day for discussion so do be prepared to share what you have written in an informal manner. These papers will comprise 15% of your course grade (150 points, 50 points each). You may rewrite one of these papers for a new grade if you so desire. Rewrites must be turned in by Thursday, April 21.
You will each work on a group presentation on a particular topic during the semester. These presentations will be 15-20 minutes in length and should include audio/visual elements (webpages, videos, power point presentations, etc.). Groups should be sure to consult with me as they design and complete their presentations.
You will write one 10-12 page paper, due near the end of the term. This paper will provide an opportunity for you to develop, articulate, and thoroughly support an original argument about our course material. I encourage you to consider using one of your response papers as a starting point for this research paper. You may choose to do this either by incorporating another text that we have read or by complicating your initial argument and focusing even more closely on the original text. Whatever you choose, I will expect you to engage with recent criticism on the text(s) in this paper. This being the case, I will require you to turn in an annotated bibliography of 5 recent scholarly articles along with your abstract for the second paper. Though not required, I am happy to comment on drafts; I will need them well in advance of the paper’s due date in order to have time to read and comment on them and to give you time to make revisions. I will distribute more detailed descriptions of the paper assignment well in advance of its due date. In general, however, I require that papers conform to MLA format, are typed using a standard 11 or 12 point font (such as Times New Roman), are stapled, and consist at least of the full minimum number of pages (i.e. a 10-12 page paper must be at least 10 full pages long). The annotated bibliography and abstract will be worth 50 points, and the final paper will be worth 200.
There will be two exams over the course of the semester. The mid-term will be worth 150 points and will consist of a short in-class objective/identification portion and a brief take-home portion. The final will be worth 200 points and will be a similar combination of in-class and take-home elements. More details will be distributed in advance of each exam.
✣Preparation and Participation
This course will be conducted primarily as a seminar and will thus depend on thorough preparation and active participation by all members of the class for its success. Preparation will include various homework assignments, thoughtful reading, and careful completion of all other assignments. Participation in class – largely through discussion – will also be a key part of this component of the course requirements. The guidelines for participation are as follows:
A Level: These students are visible and obvious class leaders. Such a student contributes consistently, regularly, and enthusiastically to class discussion but does not dominate discussion. Talking a lot doesn't guarantee an A. Rather, talking in a way that develops the conversation, builds on the comments of others, and is thoroughly grounded in the text under discussion will lead to an A. A-level participants don't ramble. Perhaps the most noteworthy characteristics of the A participant is that s/he always has very clear evidence from the text (being able to point to relevant passages and concrete details). Moreover, s/he doesn't just talk to the instructor. S/he engages everyone in the class, asks questions or builds on the comments of others, and addresses others' remarks as well as promoting his or her own position. These students are excellent and exceptional in their performance in every class.
B Level: These students contribute regularly to each class meeting. The B-level student has much in common with the A student; what differentiates the two is the degree of consistency of performance. The B student is sometimes a class leader, but not always. The B student is reliable in giving concrete evidence and details, but less specific than the A student. S/he always does good work, usually engages others, but may not do so every class meeting. These students are above average in their contributions in terms of both content and delivery.
C Level: These students give useful and relevant ideas and opinions; however, they may not support their ideas with evidence from the text or they may not contribute very frequently. The C student only rarely engages others in the class by asking questions or furthering points. These students are very obviously not the class leaders, although they come prepared to all class meetings and are productive members of the class. They are average in their work, doing what is required but no more.
D Level: These students are physically present and actively listen, but do not contribute with any regularity, or if they do, their contributions are vague and not carefully articulated. Their preparation and participation is never reliable and they do not make an effort to engage with others in the class.
F Level: These students are often absent. If they attend regularly, they are obviously and frequently unprepared and inattentive. An F-level student may also be one who makes insulting and unproductive comments, talks while others are speaking, or engages in other disruptive or disrespectful behavior. Numerous absences or flagrant rudeness should guarantee a failing grade.
At a three points during the semester, you will be asked to do a self-evaluation of your participation. I will read the first two self-evaluations and assign a provisional grade which will not be entered in the grade-book (or factored into your grade) but will be for informational purposes only and will form the basis of any discussion of how to improve your participation. At the end of the semester, your work over the course of the term will be holistically evaluated and the grade will be counted toward your final course grade.
If you are uncomfortable speaking in class, come talk to me in office hours and we can work on strategies for making class participation less intimidating.
Your grade will be a composite of the previously mentioned elements:
Quizzes: 100 points
Response Papers: 150 points
Mid-Term Exam: 150 points
Annotated Bibliography and Abstract: 50 points
Analytical Research Paper: 200 points
Group Presentation: 50 points
Final Exam: 150 points
Preparation and Participation (including attendance): 150 points
Total = 1000 possible points.
All assignments must be completed in response to the requirements in order to receive a passing grade for the course. In other words, “skipping” an assignment will result in a failing grade for the course, not just the assignment.
Final grades will be assigned according to the following scale:
A: 900-1000 B: 800-869 C: 700-769 D: 600-669
B+: 870-899 C+: 770-799 D+: 670-699 F: 0-599
✣Late and Missing Work
Much of the work we do in this course depends upon each member of our academic community coming to class fully prepared to participate. The failure to arrive prepared hurts your own development as a reader and writer and also hampers our efforts as a class; further, it demonstrates a lack of respect for your classmates and our common goals. Additionally, assignment due dates serve to determine your ability to deal with the course material at a specific point in time and, in the interest of fairness, it is important that everyone have the same amount of time to complete an assignment. For these reasons, I do not accept homework or in-class writing assignments late for credit and I will deduct a full letter grade from your paper grade for each day (including weekends) that it is late. If you miss a class meeting, it is your responsibility to get any assignments from one of your classmates as well as to complete and submit them on time. Please note that there will be no make-up quizzes – if you miss a quiz, you will receive a zero for it. If you are having problems with an assignment, come talk to me! Do not wait until the day before the assignment is due. Early communication can help you avoid the problems of late homework and papers. Special considerations may be made in extreme circumstances.
Class attendance is required. What is discussed and presented in class cannot be replicated outside of it, so absences will negatively affect your grade. If you must be absent, please contact me in advance. If, in an emergency, this is impossible, please contact me as soon as possible to let me know what is going on. After more than six (6) absences, you do risk automatic failure of the course.
In the case of a weather emergency, I will notify you via the course blackboard site if class is cancelled. Even if class is not cancelled, please do not come to class if you feel that doing so would put you (or others!) in danger.
✣Communication and Office Hours
You are strongly encouraged to speak to me about your reading and writing throughout the semester. I very much enjoy meeting and talking with students so, please, feel free to stop by my office to discuss class concerns with me – or just to say hello! Other modes of communication include email and the course blackboard site. I encourage you to e-mail me with any questions and concerns. I have also set up our class blackboard site (you can access this by logging in to Blackboard at courses.creighton.edu and clicking on the link for our class). I will use this site to distribute various announcements and instructions or to notify you of changes in our class schedule, so please check it regularly. The discussion board area of the site will serve as a place for you to ask questions of one another, follow up on threads of discussion or initiate new ones, and to work through paper ideas with one another as well. Substantive posts to this board will count toward your participation grade.
A note concerning email: While you can generally assume that I will check my email regularly during business hours (9-5, M-F), and that I will try to answer emails within 24 hours, please remember that it is impossible for me to guarantee that I will be able to get back to you immediately. If you have a question or concern, please get in touch with me as soon as possible – don’t wait until the last minute.
Please let me know if you need accommodation of any sort. I can work in conjunction with the appropriate offices to provide what you need. I’m also very willing to take suggestions specific to this course. This syllabus is available in large print– please ask.
✣Academic Honesty and Integrity
In this class, we will work together as an academic community of readers, writers, and thinkers. This said, it is also important that each of you experience the course as an individual, creating work that is your own and giving credit where credit is due (using the MLA format) when you use others’ ideas/words in your work. Additionally, all work submitted in this course must be original work that you have done for this course and this course alone. If you do not know how to properly cite a source you are referencing, I will be happy to help you figure it out. The essence of plagiarism is claiming someone else’s work (ideas and/or words) as your own. Plagiarism will result in a zero for the assignment in question and possible failure of the course. Plagiarism is never a good choice. If you are feeling confused, overwhelmed, or unsure about any of our assignments at any time during the semester, please talk with me, during my office hours, before or after class, or via e-mail.
✣Tentative Semester Schedule ✣This schedule is meant to provide you with a basic sense of what we’ll be doing this semester and when we’ll be doing it. Please read the texts in their entirety for the first day of discussion unless otherwise indicated. Also, please remember that all schedules are subject to change. You must attend class regularly in order to remain informed.
Th 1/13 Introductions, Medieval/Renaissance Timeline, Sign-up for response papers
Tu 1/18 Beowulf
Th 1/20 Beowulf
Tu 1/25 Judith and Dream of the Rood
Th 1/27 Perspectives: Ethnic and Religious Encounters
Tu 2/1 Marie de France, Lais – Chivalry, Courtly love, and the Chivalric Romance
Th 2/3 Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
Tu 2/8 Morte D’Arthur
Th 2/10 Intro. to reading Middle English; Begin The Weddyng of Syr Gawen and Dame Ragnell (MER)
Tu 2/15 The Weddyng of Syr Gawen and Dame Ragnell (MER)
Th 2/17 Havelok (MER)
Tu 2/22 Havelok (MER)
Th 2/24 Chaucer – Chaucer and The Canterbury Tales
Tu 3/1 Chaucer
Th 3/3 Chaucer – Mid-Term
3/5-13 Spring Break
Tu 3/15 Julian of Norwich, Margery Kempe – Medieval Mysticism
Th 3/17 Julian of Norwich, Margery Kempe
Tu 3/22 Utopia – Renaissance Humanism
Th 3/24 Utopia
Tu 3/29 Raleigh and “England in the New World” – New World Exploration
Th 3/31 Sidney, Apology and “The Apology” and its Time – Lyric Poetry and Patronage
Tu 4/5 Skelton, Wyatt, Howard, and Spenser’s Amoretti ; Abstract and Annotated Bibliography due
Th 4/7 Herbert, Elizabeth I, Lanyer – selected poems
Tu 4/12 Dr. Faustus
Th 4/14 Dr. Faustus
Tu 4/19 “The Roaring Girl” and its Time; Perspectives: City Life – Sumptuary Laws
Th 4/21 The Roaring Girl
Tu 4/26 The Roaring Girl; Paper Due
Th 4/28 The Roaring Girl; Wrapping things up.
M 5/2 1:00 pm Final Exam