Download: ENGL 3327 Syllabus

English 3327:
Masterpieces of British Literature
From Anglo-Saxon through the 18th Century

Dr. Mark Womack Fall 2016
Skype Username:
Skype Office Hours:
T/TH 6:00pm–7:00pm

You will submit ALL your work for this course (Stylistic Analyses, Critical Essays, and Final Exam) online through Blackboard.

This site contains all course materials — including this syllabus, assignment sheets, handouts, and so forth.

Class Format

Since this is a distance learning course, we will have no face-to-face classroom meetings. Instead, you can listen to the class lectures online at or download them from iTunes. One great advantage of this format is that you can listen to the lectures at your own pace; one potential disadvantage is that it it very easy to fall behind. (See suggested schedule below.)

If you have questions, you can email me: (Don’t rely on the BlackBoard email system to contact me.) I will also hold virtual office hours on Skype from 6:00pm to 7:00pm on Tuesday and Thursday (and by appointment). My Skype username is drmarkwomack. In addition, I will monitor and occasionally post on the BlackBoard Discussion Forums.

Course Description

This course will introduce you to major works of British literature from the Anglo-Saxon period through the 18th century. We will study these literary texts as literary texts — works of verbal art designed to delight readers and auditors — not primarily as historical documents. We will spend virtually all our time analyzing specific passages in great detail, thinking about how the text in front of us works on our minds and ears as we read it. This course will thus provide an opportunity to learn how to read literature closely and to write about it with precision and clarity.

Although not organized around any particular themes, the course will grapple with two critical questions: 1) “Why have these works persisted in our culture for so long?” and 2) “How do these writers manipulate the resources of language to shape our experience as readers?” As you will see, I believe these questions about canon formation and about literary form are inseparably related.

Required Texts

The Norton Anthology
of English Literature: Volume 1

(9th Edition)
William Shakespeare

You may use ANY well-annotated edition of Hamlet for the class.


Recommended Text

John McNamara
(introduction & translator)

This book includes both Professor McNamara’s valuable introductory essay on the poem and his own modern English verse translation of the original Old English text.


You will write ten short Stylistic Analyses of texts discussed in class and two Critical Essays: one comparing translations of Beowulf, one analyzing a Renaissance sonnet. You will also take a comprehensive Final Exam. All the material for the final will come directly from readings and lectures. I do not assign extra credit or make-up work. Failure to complete any assignment may result in a failing grade for the course. You will submit all your work (analyses, essays, and final exam) online through Blackboard. Assignments not submitted on time will receive a zero. I never assign extra credit or make-up work. I discuss grades only in private, and only forty-eight hours (at least) after I have returned an assignment.

Stylistic Analyses

Throughout the semester, you will write ten brief analyses (about 300 words each) of specific stylistic choices in the works covered in class. For each analysis, you should pick a few lines from one of the assigned texts, then focus on a particular linguistic detail in them (a surprising word choice, an arresting metaphor, a complex allusion, a striking use of enjambment), and offer your insights into what that specific stylistic nuance does for a reader.

Everything you say in your analysis should relate directly to the actual words of the text. Don’t get sidetracked; stick with the words. Think about how the author has shaped and arranged the language. I am looking for fine-grained analysis, not mushy generalizations.

Post your Stylistic Analyses in the Journal component of Blackboard. Please DO NOT submit your analyses as attached files. The final deadline for all analyses is December 2. But I encourage you not to wait till the last minute to submit them.

Critical Essays

You will find detailed assignment sheets for the Critical Essays on the main website: Essay 1: Compare Two Translations of Beowulf and Essay 2: Analyze a Renaissance Sonnet. I will also discuss the essay assignments in detail during class lectures.

Submitting Essays

  • Find the submission link on the main Blackboard page. (Use only the Blackboard links; do not use the TurnItIn web site.)
  • Click the View/Complete link for the assignment.
  • Enter your Name from the drop-down Author menu.
  • Enter a Title for your paper.
  • Click the “Browse” button.
  • Find the document file on your computer and click “Open.”
  • Click the “Upload” button.
  • Review the file and click on the “Submit” button.

Final Exam

The final will be an essay exam: you will pick four topics from a list of eight or nine questions and write short essay answers for each of them.

The final will be available on Blackboard all day on Saturday, December 10. You will have 3 hours to complete the exam. On the honor system, you may use your text books during the exam but no other materials.

Course Grade
Stylistic Analyses 20%
Essay 1 20%
Essay 2 20%
Final Exam 40%

Numerical Values of Letter Grades
A+ (100–97) A (96–93) A- (92–90)
B+ (89–87) B (86–83) B- (82–80)
C+ (79–77) C (76–73) C- (72–70)
F (59–0)

Schedule of Lectures, Readings & Assignments

Week One
M 8/22 First Day Lecture: a review of instructions, policies, & syllabus
W 8/24 Beowulf (lines 1–1650)
F 8/26 Beowulf (lines 1650–3182)
Week Two
M 8/29 Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Fitts 1 & 2
W 8/31 Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Fitts 3 & 4
F 9/2 The Canterbury Tales, “General Prologue” (lines 1–446)
Week Three
M 9/5 Labor Day
W 9/7 The Canterbury Tales, “General Prologue” (lines 446–860)
F 9/9 “Miller’s Prologue & Tale”
Week Four
M 9/12 “Wife of Bath’s Prologue & Tale”
W 9/14 “Pardoner’s Prologue & Tale”
F 9/16 Final Deadline for Essay 1
Week Five
M 9/19 Wyatt & Surrey, selected poems*
W 9/21 Astrophil and Stella, sonnets 1–56
F 9/23 Astrophil and Stella, sonnets 61–108
Week Six
M 9/26 The Faerie Queene 1.1
[The Redcrosse Knight vs Error]
W 9/28 The Faerie Queene 1.9.21–54
[The Redcrosse Knight & Despair]
F 9/30 The Faerie Queene 2.12
[The Bower of Bliss]
Week Seven
M 10/3 The Faerie Queene 3.6
[The Garden of Adonis]
W 10/5 The Faerie Queene 3.12
[The Masque of Cupid]
F 10/7 Doctor Faustus, Prologue–scene 6
Week Eight
M 10/10 Doctor Faustus, Chorus 2–Epilogue
W 10/12 Shakespeare’s Sonnets
(1, 3, 12, 15, 18, 20, 29, 30, 33, 60, 71)
F 10/14 Shakespeare’s Sonnets
(73, 94, 116, 127, 129, 130, 138, 144, 146, 147, 152)
Week Nine
M 10/17 Hamlet, Act 1
W 10/19 Hamlet, Act 2
F 10/21 Hamlet, Act 3
Week Ten
M 10/24 Hamlet, Act 4
W 10/26 Hamlet, Act 5
F 10/28 Final Deadline for Essay 2
Last day to drop a course or withdraw with a “W.”
Week Eleven
M 10/31 John Donne, love poems*
W 11/2 John Donne, religious verse*
F 11/4 Paradise Lost, book 1
Week Twelve
M 11/7 Paradise Lost, book 2
W 11/9 Paradise Lost, book 3
F 11/11 Paradise Lost, book 4
Week Thirteen
M 11/14 Paradise Lost, book 5 & book 8: lines 250–653
W 11/16 Paradise Lost, book 9
F 11/18 Paradise Lost, book 10: lines 1–228, 414–584, 720–1104
& book 12: lines 466–649
Week Fourteen
M 11/21 An Essay on Criticism Part 2, lines 337–83
The Rape of the Lock
W 11/23 Thanksgiving Holiday
F 11/25
Week Fifteen
M 11/28 Gulliver’s Travels, Part 1
[A Voyage to Lilliput]
W 11/30 Gulliver’s Travels, Part 4
[A Voyage to the Country of the Houyhnhnms]
F 12/2 Final Deadline for Stylistic Analyses

Final Exam
The final will be available on Blackboard all day on December 10. You will have three hours to complete the exam. On the honor system, you may use your text books during the exam but no other materials.

Selected Poems
Wyatt “The long love that in my thought doth harbor,” “Whoso list to hunt,” “Farewell, Love,” “I find no peace,” “My galley,” “Divers doth use,” “They flee from me,” & “The Lover Showeth How He Is Forsaken of Such as He Sometime Enjoyed”
Surrey “The soote season,” “Love, that doth reign and live within my thought,” “Alas! so all things now do hold their peace,” “Th’Assyrian king, in peace with foul desire,” & from The Fourth Book of Virgil [Dido in Love]
Donne Love Poems: “The Flea,” “The Good-Morrow,” “The Canonization,” “A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning,” “The Relic,” & “Elegy 19, To His Mistress Going to Bed”

Religious Verse: Holy Sonnets, “Good Friday, 1613, Riding Westward,” & “A Hymn to God the Father”

Withdrawal Policy

I strongly encourage every student to complete the course, but I recognize that occasionally a student may need to withdraw, especially for non-academic reasons. Please bear in mind that it is your responsibility to fill out and turn in the necessary forms in order to withdraw formally from the course.

According to university policy, if you wish to withdraw from the course you must do so by October 28, the “Last Day to Drop a Course” on the official academic calendar.

Please note that if you do not withdraw by October 28, then you must be given a grade for the course. Current university policy dictates that students who fail to submit their required work and do not qualify for an Incomplete will receive a failing grade for the course.

Policy on Incomplete Grades

The grade of “I” (Incomplete) is a conditional and temporary grade given when students are passing a course or still have a reasonable chance of passing in the judgment of the instructor but, for non-academic reasons beyond their control, have not completed a relatively small part of all requirements. Students are responsible for informing the instructor immediately of the reasons for not submitting an assignment on time or not taking an examination. Students must contact the instructor to make arrangements to complete the course requirements.

An Incomplete is granted only if (a) the student has sufficient non-academic reason for not completing the coursework within the term allotted; (b) the student has already completed a substantial portion of the coursework; and (c) the student requests a grade of Incomplete before the date of the Final Examination. Students who receive an Incomplete grade must complete all the course requirements by a deadline set by the instructor. If the student fails to submit the work on time, the grade will be changed to reflect the work completed in the course. Bear in mind that a grade of “I” automatically changes to “F” at the end of a calendar year if all course requirements are not fulfilled by that time.

Your instructor, Mark Womack, reserves the right to amend any policies listed here with sufficient written notice.

Page Last Updated: 5 September 2016