English Literature Course Suggestions (BA)
BA General Education Requirement: 6 credit hours (2 courses)
The Department of English offers seven literature survey courses at the 200 level: ENG 220, 221, 222, 223, 224, 225, 226. No other English course will meet this requirement. Transfer courses designated ENG 22x (not ENG 2xx) will satisfy this requirement.
All survey courses develop students’ understanding of literary forms and movements in literary history. Surveys introduce students to the basic emphases of literary study, exposing them to different genres and methodologies and building for them a vocabulary for the critical discussion of literature. Students learn to recognize and discuss key literary works within each course’s historical range and set of national and cultural traditions. They explore the complex relationships between a text and its contexts, seeking to understand what inspired people to create, remember, and read literature. Students consider why we read old and new literatures and what value they have for us today. They gain analytic techniques for critical reading, thinking, and writing about texts of all kinds.
ENG 220. Survey in Literary History. English 220 surveys a topic in literary history across multiple centuries and cultures. Examining genres such as poetry, fiction, and autobiography, students learn how literature has shaped and been shaped by fields of human knowledge and experience. Topics vary by semester and may include but are not limited to “Literature, Medicine, and Science,” “Literature and Money,” and “Literature and Law.”
ENG 221. Survey of World Literature to 1650. English 221 explores the global foundations of literary expression. Students survey texts from ancient times to the rise of modernity, and sample readings from such sources as Sophocles, Homer, the Hebrew and vernacular bibles, the Bhagavad Gītā, Confucius, Arabian Nights, and Shakespeare. Throughout, students consider the role of literature in creating human societies.
ENG 222. World Literature after 1650. English 222 introduces students to the wide array of literary works produced on almost every continent of the world. Covering a variety of genres—short stories, poems, film, etc.—from Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, and the Americas, the course investigates the work of world literatures in promoting, complicating and reinforcing relationships between peoples from the rise of modernity to today. Students examine the unique qualities of texts produced by different cultures and practice strategies for studying world cultures through literature. Possible authors include Voltaire, Fyodor Dostoevsky, James Joyce, Joseph Conrad, Chinua Achebe, Jamaica Kincaid, and Arundhati Roy.
ENG 223. American Literature to the Civil War. English 223 surveys American literature from its beginnings (variously defined), through colonization and the American Revolution, and finally to the mid-nineteenth century and the Civil War, paying particular attention to historical and cultural influences. The course engages how various groups and cultures used writing to express and debate what it meant to be a community in changing and uncertain times, and charts the contested development of a national identity. The class complicates any singular idea of “America” by considering texts and experiences other than those produced by Europeans and their descendants, including works by Native Americans, Latin Americans, and African Americans. Possible authors include Anne Bradstreet, Benjamin Franklin, Samson Occom (Mohegan), Phillis Wheatley, Henry David Thoreau, Emily Dickinson, and Edgar Allan Poe.
ENG 224. American Literature since the Civil War. English 224 provides an overview of the trends and literary movements that shaped U.S. America from the Civil War to our contemporary period. Questions of cultural belonging, social participation, and political citizenship have been and continue to be in the foreground of this nation. Students examine how U.S. writers sought to engage with these questions through literature—a powerful and problematic tool. Ranging from the rise of realism through naturalism, modernism, postmodernism, and beyond, the course covers established movements and major authors, but it also showcases its many other dynamic if less well-known developments and voices. Students read a variety of genres by Americans of diverse backgrounds, such as Charles Chesnutt, Mark Twain, Kate Chopin, Langston Hughes, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Tennessee Williams, William Faulkner, Audre Lorde, Maxine Hong Kingston, Sandra Cisneros, Sherman Alexie, and Toni Morrison.
ENG 225. Survey of British Literature to 18th Century. English 225 provides a broad survey of British literature from its Medieval beginnings through the Renaissance and Early Modern periods and into the Enlightenment and Romantic eras of the eighteenth century. Students explore how English literature reflects and shapes historical shifts (political, economic, social, religious, and linguistic) and how writers used language, genre, and persona to experiment with new possibilities for personal and national identity. Possible texts and authors include Beowulf, Geoffrey Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton’s Paradise Lost, Aphra Behn, William Blake, and Olaudah Equiano.
ENG 226. Survey of British Literature since Romantic Period. English 226 considers the development of English literature from the Romantic period to the early twenty-first century, tracing important intellectual, social, and aesthetic issues as they change over the period and across Britain and its colonies. It begins with the end of Romanticism, then across the industrialization of England and the expansion of science in the 1800s, into the world wars and imperial fragmentation of the 1900s and today. Possible authors and texts include Frankenstein, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Oscar Wilde, Virginia Woolf, Kazuo Ishiguro, and Zadie Smith.