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ENG 205--Survey of Medieval and Renaissance British Literature

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 English 205 (06)                                                                    Mary Anne Nunn

Survey of British Literature: Middle Ages – 18th Century                    Office: FD 100

Spring 2013                                                                              Office Phone: (860) 832-2778

M/W 12:15 - 1:30 EW 206                                                     Hours: M/W 2:00 - 3:00 p.m.

nunnm@ccsu.edu                                                                   T 12:00 -2:00 p.m.

                                                                                                                And by appt.



     English 110 is a prerequisite for all literature courses. You must have passed Eng 110...



     Although the title has changed, it is THE SAME COURSE as ENG 205 British Survey I.


     Text: The Norton Anthology of English Literature, vol. I, 9th edition

            Meth./App. (due 1/23)              - 10%

            Midterm (2/27)                         - 20%

            Poetry Assignment (due 3/6)      - 20%

           ID Quiz (3/13)                          - 15%               

          Class Participation                    - 15%

          FINAL (M May 6, 11:00-1:00)              - 20%

I will also give extra credit (10% an "A") for memorizing, and reciting creditably to me in my office, 40 lines of poetry from our course text (whether or not that poetry was assigned for class).


Attendance is required, and all the exams will be largely based on the substance and focus of class discussion (the process of developing our particular “interpretation” of the literature), so attendance is indispensable if you mean to do well on the exams. If you are absent up to two times this semester (the equivalent of one week of class) your grade will not suffer as a direct result of your absence. If, however, you are absent more than twice, your final grade will be lowered one third of a letter grade for each class beyond the second that you miss. Note: Your "excused" absences are designed to cover illness and other obligations. Note: You are responsible for what goes on in class, whether you are in class or not.


Classes will begin PROMPTLY at the posted times. In a semester in which we have ten centuries of literature to cover in only 15 weeks, there is no time to waste. Any announcements or other business conducted in the first minutes of class (including quizzes...) will NOT be repeated for late comers, and chronic late arrivals will be treated as absences in the ratio of two to one. Note: You are responsible for what goes on in class, whether you are in class or not.


The grade of a paper will be reduced by 1/3 of a letter grade for every day past the due date it is late.


As a courtesy, in this and every class..., please turn off your cell phones unless you are expecting an absolutely crucial call. If you are expecting such a call, please let me know, turn your phone to vibrate, and sit by the door to make it easy to step into the hall and thereby minimize the disruption of class.


This course is designed to introduce students to the range of British literature from the earliest preserved works of the Medieval period through literature of the 18th century. The course will

  • hone students' ability to read individual works of literature—that is, “close reading," or developing an interpretation— (students will use this skill in the Method/Application assignment, the short paper, the short answer portions of the exams, and of course in class discussions)

  • give students a sense of the relationships among large historical and literary developments over the course of several centuries of British Literature (students will use this understanding in all close readings and in the essay portions of the Final exam).

The course, therefore, is useful for English majors in that it covers the basic method of the academic study of literature and offers an examination of a range and variety of literature from several different periods, serving as a guide for each student in his or her selection of future courses. The course is useful for non-English majors because it challenges their analytical, reading, and writing abilities and gives them an introduction to many of the greatest works of literature written in English.

This course fulfills Study Area I in the General Education requirements, and many students take it to fill a Gen. Ed. slot. It is an introductory course, but this does NOT mean that the course is easy or elementary—it means that English 205 introduces the discipline of the study of literature as well as a selection of specific literary works drawn from ten centuries’ worth of literature written in Britain. I will expect each student to master key elements of that discipline:

  • to READ the assigned material carefully and thoughtfully so as to have identified the literal meaning and noticed issues of interpretation (that is, to note things about which a careful reader has questions, not necessarily to come in with a complete understanding or interpretation of the reading)

  • to ATTEND to class discussions, noting both the SPECIFIC POINTS made about an individual work of literature AND using discussions as a model of the PRACTICE OF CLOSE READING that is indispensable to the study of literature

  • to follow and REMEMBER points made about a work or period, as our discussions will be cumulative over the course of the semester.


This is a course both on specific literature and designed to teach a method of reading any literature. Many students, however, believe they can pass the course without reading the assigned material—that is, without reading it at all, or without reading it according to the method the course teaches. Be aware, however, that all the standards for grading work done for this class are predicated on a student’s having mastered both the method presented and the material assigned to be treated with that method. Falling behind on the reading, or failing to allot sufficient time and attention to the reading, will virtually guarantee poor grades in this course.


It has become very common to begin any student writing project by first surfing the web. This practice, however, can very easily lead to plagiarism, intentional and unintentional. So that there will be no misunderstandings, let me say a few words about using source material.

In general, IF YOU FEEL THE NEED TO CONSULT SOURCES (and this includes web sources), YOU MUST DOCUMENT THE SOURCES YOU CONSULT!! Most students know that you must indicate direct quotations with parenthetical citations and a list of Works Cited containing the full bibliographical information about the source consulted. But often students believe that one may borrow language from a source without citing it as long as one alters words here and there. THIS IS NOT TRUE!! If you borrow sentence structures, even if you make changes to those sentence structures, and then fail to indicate that borrowing, YOU ARE PLAGIARIZING. If you borrow IDEAS and do not credit those ideas to the original source, even if you completely re-write those ideas into your own words, YOU ARE PLAGIARIZING. Even if the ideas you use come from class notes taken in some other class at some other institution, you must indicate your indebtedness with a footnote crediting the original teacher, the institution at which the class was presented, and the year in which you took the notes. If the ideas arose in a conversation with a class member, friend, or family member YOU MUST INDICATE THAT INDEBTEDNESS WITH A FOOTNOTE TO THE EFFECT: “for these ideas I am indebted to _____ in a conversation held on such and such a DATE.” The grade I give you at the end of the semester is designed to certify the level of YOUR competence in the discipline the course is designed to teach. It is not merely a record that you handed in something for each assignment.

For any written assignment I am glad to review a draft ahead of the due date, but, IF YOU HAVE CONSULTED SOURCES AND MADE USE OF THEM FOR IDEAS OR LANGUAGE, YOU MUST HAVE FULL CITATION IN THE DRAFT!! Lack of such citation IN A DRAFT will be grounds for the same penalties as any other academic misconduct. Citation MUST be a part of your use of research material FROM THE VERY BEGINNING OF YOUR PROCESS.

Should you present some other author's work, words, or ideas as your own in ANY of these ways, you will receive a failing grade on your paper, you will be liable to dismissal from the course, and I will, according to CCSU policy, record an entry into your permanent student file documenting your academic misconduct. If you have ANY doubts or concerns about the propriety of your writing approach, COME SEE ME IN MY OFFICE HOURS TO DISCUSS YOUR PAPER. Do not risk permanently tarnishing your intellectual reputation by cheating.  You must understand that, once you do so, ALL other work you have ever done or will ever do will be suspect.

For this course, NONE of the assignments in this course requires you to consult sources. If you do consult sources, however, your documentation should conform to the Modern Language Association (MLA) guidelines. There will always be a current edition of the MLA Handbook in the Reference Room at the Library. THE MLA HAS NOW ISSUED GUIDELINES FOR THE CITATION OF MATERIAL ACCESSED ON THE WEB. These guidelines include the date on which you consulted the source. Be sure, therefore, that you keep careful records of your research process to ensure that you have all the relevant information when it comes time to put your Works Cited List together. Here is a link to a good, brief overview of MLA citation practices:



Here at the beginning of the semester I want to set down something about grades, both in this class and indeed in classes within this discipline and beyond. As the section on Methodology makes clear, this is an INTRODUCTORY course—it is designed to introduce both the material and the method of approaching that material to students who are new to both. For this reason, I do not see the final grade for the semester as being uncomplicatedly cumulative. It is unreasonable to expect that anyone learning a new discipline, or confronting strikingly new and different material with a familiar discipline, would produce stellar work from the very beginning. The goal of the course is for students to learn, and learning almost invariably requires making mistakes. In this class, then, there are particularly compelling reasons to view grades as I view them in any class: grades deliver information.

I will do everything in my power to be as clear as possible regarding what it is I’m asking you to do for all graded work, and for many of the assignments this semester you will have opportunities to revise in response to my feedback. The grade I will assign to each piece of your work will give you a measurement of how closely that work aligns with what was assigned. It does NOT suggest anything specific about your potential, your facility in the discipline in general, or indeed necessarily your grade for the course as a whole. A lower grade simply alerts you to a need to recalibrate either your understanding of the assignment or the method the assignment requires. As I often say, nothing gives me more pleasure than to reward improvement. In every case this semester, an early assignment will be followed later in the semester with a similar assignment giving you every opportunity to advance your skills. I give these assignments percentage weights on the first page of this syllabus to indicate their relative significance, but improving grades weight later work very significantly. At the same time, excellent early work will never be worth less than these percentages indicate presuming that such weight is to your advantage.

I also find myself saying frequently to students worried about grades that a focus on grades is counterproductive. The goal should never be to get a particular grade, but to learn the discipline with solid mastery. Solid mastery will yield high grades. The pursuit of the grade separate from the discipline is an ineffective strategy to maximize your GPA, but more importantly it robs any assignment of its intrinsic value, which is most certainly not the grade assigned but the opportunity to engage in a discipline worth mastering in itself but whose mastery also gives you marketable skills. All academic disciplines are dialogues, and your classmates and professors act as surrogates for the wider disciplinary audience. As a professional working within the discipline, your professor has the perspective to offer you a valid measure of the success of your work in the form of a grade. Any discussion of that measure should not, though, focus on the measure itself, but on the scale used to establish the measurement. Seek always to know what you are doing well, and what, and how, you can improve.


If you need course adaptations or accommodations because of a disability, if you have emergency medical information to share with me, or if you need special arrangements in case the building must be evacuated, please make an appointment to talk with me as soon as possible.

If you feel you may need an accommodation based on the impact of a disability, please contact me privately to discuss specific needs. I will need a copy of the accommodation letter from Student Disability Services in order to arrange your class accommodations. Contact Student Disability Services, room 241, Copernicus Hall, if you are not already registered with them. Student Disability Services maintains the confidential documentation of your disability and assists you in coordinating reasonable accommodations with your faculty.


4/15                              Last day to drop courses without special permission

3/18-3/22 & 4/1-4/5       Pre-registration advising

4/8-4/19                        Registration

FINAL EXAM -- Monday, May 6, 11:00-1:00



                                                                            English 205

                                                                        Nunn –Spring 2013


Jan.      14 -      Introduction

            16 -      Introduction: Close Reading

            21 -      Martin Luther King Day—no class

            23 -      "The Wanderer," "The Dream of the Rood"

                        DUE: Method/Application Assignment

            28 -      Chaucer: "General Prologue" to The Canterbury Tales

            30 -      Chaucer: "General Prologue" to The Canterbury Tales

                        Hand out Practice Midterm


Feb.     4 -      Chaucer: "General Prologue" to The Canterbury Tales

                             "The Pardoner's Prologue and Tale"

                        Practice Midterm Due

            6 -      Chaucer: "The Pardoner's Prologue and Tale"

            11 -      Chaucer: "The Pardoner's Prologue and Tale"

            The Wakefield Second Shepherds’ Play

            13 -      The Wakefield Second Shepherds’ Play

            18 -      PRESIDENT’S DAY—NO CLASS

            20 -      Sonnets: Sidney: 9, 31   Spenser: 37, 67

                        Assign Poetry Assignment—Due 3/6

            25 -      Sonnets: Shakespeare: 18, 130, 138

            27 -      MIDTERM

Mar.    4 -      Herrick: "Corinna's Going A-Maying," "To the Virgins to Make Much

                      of Time," "Upon Julia's Clothes"

                      Suckling: "Out Upon It!"

                     Marvel: "To His Coy Mistress"        

             6 -   DUE: Poetry Assignment

                     Donne: "The Flea," "The Sun Rising," "The Ecstasy,"        

             11 -  Donne: "Holy Sonnets": 10, 14

                       Herbert: "Easter Wings," "The Forerunners"

             13 -   ID Quiz

3/18-3/22 & 4/1-4/5   PRE-REGISTRATION ADVISING

           18 -  Milton: Paradise Lost, Book I,          

           20 -   Milton: Paradise Lost, Book II: 629-1055, Book III

             25 -   SPRING BREAK

             27 -   SPRING BREAK

 Apr.     1 -     Milton: Paradise Lost, Books IV-V

            3 -      Milton: Paradise Lost, Books VI-VIII

4/8-4/19          REGISTRATION FOR FALL 2013

            8 -      Milton: Paradise Lost, Book IX

            10 -      Milton: Paradise Lost, Book X, Book XII: 552-649

                        Hand out Practice Final

            15-       DROP DATE

            15 -    finish Paradise Lost

                        Practice Final Due   

            17 -      Swift: Gulliver's Travels, Books I and II

            22 -      Swift: Gulliver's Travels, Books II and IV

            24 -      Pope: "The Rape of the Lock"

            29 -      Pope: “The Rape of the Lock”

May     1 -      Conclusion/Review

FINAL EXAM: Monday, May 6, 11:00-1:00


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