Literature Pre-1850 Fall 2023

ENGL 301: King Arthur through the Ages

Instructor: Misty Schieberle
24776 | TuTh 1:00-2:15 PM | Wescoe 4051 – LAWRENCE

Arthurian literature may be the medieval equivalent of popular entertainment, but medieval and post-medieval treatments of King Arthur also reveal the values, ideals, and anxieties of the cultures that produced them. We will trace the development of the English Arthurian legend from its mythic and quasi-historical beginnings through medieval romance and early modern royal propaganda. Questions driving the course will include how Arthur and his knights are represented differently in different genres, what cultural issues and problems authors use Arthurian literature to address, and how authors reinvent Arthurian narratives to reflect changing social ideals over hundreds of years. Requirements: regular class attendance and participation, quizzes, informal written assignments, one short essay, one researched or creative project, and two exams. This course fulfills the English 312 or equivalent requirement for the English major.

Illustration King Arthur

ENGL 312: Major British Writers to 1800

Instructor: Geraldo Sousa
26700 | TuTh 11:00-12:15 PM | Wescoe 4035 – LAWRENCE

“Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested,” wrote Francis Bacon. He added that “reading” makes us fully human, conversation makes us “ready,” and “writing” makes us “exact.” This course focuses on some of the greatest English literary masterpieces, such as Beowulf, Canterbury Tales, Spenser’s Faerie Queene (Bks 1 & parts of 2), Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus, Webster’s Duchess of Malfi, essential Milton’s Paradise Lost, and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. We will read, analyze, discuss, and write about these and other early texts from different genres and authors. In the process, we will have an introduction to literary history, scholarship and exciting new critical approaches. This course fulfills the English 312 or equivalent requirement for the English major. For additional information, contact Dr. Sousa:

Placeholder image of stairway railing in foreground with shelves of books in background

ENGL 320: American Literature I

Instructor: Laura Mielke
24784 | TuTh 11:00-12:15 PM | Wescoe 4076 - LAWRENCE

This course surveys works of American literature from many points of origin through the mid-nineteenth century, placing emphasis on indigenous and African American experience. Over the course of the semester, we will read a wide range of texts, including prophecies, sacred tales, conquest narratives, sermons, poetry, short fiction, life writing, political tracts, and more. Through intensive reading, discussion, and writing, we will consider the variety of ways in which the many different residents of North America used texts: to create community, to promote settlement, to worship and proselytize, to control those in the minority (especially through the category of “race”), to establish or challenge political authority, to contemplate the beautiful, to make money, to pursue social reform, and to shape identity. Students will complete multiple papers and exams.

Illustration of 18th Century America

ENGL 525: Shakespeare and the Sea

Instructor: Geraldo Sousa
26708 | TuTh 9:30-10:45 AM | Wescoe 4035 – LAWRENCE

In his Devil’s Dictionary (1906), Ambrose Bierce defines “ocean” as “A body of water occupying about two-thirds of a world made for man—who has no gills.” This humorous, ironic definition underscores the paradoxical position of the ocean in human life and the importance of the sea to terrestrial inhabitation. This course will focus on the intersection of Shakespearean studies, ecocriticism, and emerging cross- and interdisciplinary oceanic studies in the early modern period. Topics of concern include travel, exploration, and discovery; colonization and national identity; trade routes and global commerce; sailors and pirates; shipwreck and seashores; ports and brothels; home and abroad; terrestrial life and aquatic life; monsters of the deep; climate change, sea level rise, and despoliation of the oceans. Readings include selected plays; and selections from Dan Brayton’s Shakespeare’s Ocean; Steve Mentz’s At the Bottom of Shakespeare’s Oceans; articles by Mentz and Hester Blum; and other scholarship on Shakespeare and the sea. Students in an English capstone course are expected to demonstrate mastery of skills and knowledge but also to develop confidence to innovate, to move forward from materials and positions they have been taught to staking out their own positions and supporting them with original research. Seafarers report that travel by sea can change one’s perspective of the world: nights are darker; the stars are brighter. The rhythm of our bodies intertwines with tides and waves.
ENGLISH 525 is designed as a capstone course in the English major, and also fulfills KU Core Goal 6. For additional information, contact Dr. Sousa:

Illustration of ship