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Literature of Great Britain

Учебный год
Обучение ведется на английском языке
Курс по выбору
Когда читается:
1-й курс, 3, 4 модуль


Course Syllabus


Literature of Great Britain is a rigorous two-module course designed for the undergraduate students of the Foreign languages and intercultural communication programme who are interested in the development of British literature from its beginnings to the present in relation to its historical, linguistic, and cultural contexts. To fulfill the requirements of the course students need to have a good command of written and spoken English (required CEFR language proficiency level is B2). Through a wide range of selected readings in prose, poetry, and drama from the Old English period to the 21st century, this course introduces students to British literature and examines its development in the context of stylistic, cultural, historical, and linguistic changes and influences. It increases one’s understanding of literary conventions, enhances the enjoyment of various forms of literature, and encourages personal exploration and interpretation of the diversity of human experience, which British literature affords. Students will critically read and evaluate a number of assigned Key Texts (significant examples of the given period representing a diversity of British writers) as well as engage in independent reading outside of class. They will both develop skills of literary analysis and acquire knowledge of British cultural history. The course combines activities of a traditional (quizzes, essays, discussions etc.) and a nontraditional (debates, presentations, journal writing etc.) nature. Designed to emphasize independent thought, it also envisages various research projects conducted individually or in small groups on a wide range of topics related to its subject matter. This syllabus sets minimal requirements for the knowledge and skills of students and determines the contents of the course. It targets both lecturers and teaching assistants, and 1st-year undergraduate students of the Foreign languages and intercultural communication programme, to whose needs it is specifically tailored.
Learning Objectives

Learning Objectives

  • To broaden one’s knowledge about the body of written works produced in the English language by the inhabitants of the British Isles from the 7th century to the present day, putting it in the larger context of the thematic concerns of the writers, as well as the specific historical events and cultural influences to which these writers responded.
  • To engage with, close read, reflect upon, and respond to a range of assigned Key Texts in the three main forms (prose, poetry, and drama), noticing such features as tropes and figures of speech, structural elements, oppositions and correspondences, themes, motifs, symbols, allusions, and cultural or historical references, as well as to discuss the reception and present-day relevance of these texts.
  • To hone one’s Critical Reading, Critical Thinking, and Critical Writing skills necessary for advancing clear and compelling arguments in the interpretation of a text, which in its turn will enable students to further apply the knowledge gained in professional, scholarly, and interpersonal communication in the multicultural world of today.
Expected Learning Outcomes

Expected Learning Outcomes

  • To know the history of the manuscript (Beowulf. S. Heaney ). The structure of the poem. The main themes and digressions. Christian elements in the poem.
  • To know Geoffrey Chaucer’s life. Chaucer’s style and sources. The General Prologue as a microcosm of the medieval world. Chaucer’s characterization. The significance of the first-person narrator (Chaucer as a persona vs. Chaucer as a character). The Knight’s Tale: the ideal vs. the reality. The theme of courtly love. The Wife of Bath’s Prologue and Tale: rhetoric, learning, and comic realism. The presentation of women and the function of female characters in the plot.
  • To know the origins and evolution of the legend of King Arthur and his knights. Thomas Malory’s life. The history of the manuscript. Malory’s sources. The style and main themes. Three typologies of knighthood. Le Morte d’Arthur as a tragedy.
  • To know the life and works of William Shakespeare. The Shakespeare authorship question. The Sonnets. The date of composition. Sonnets to the Fair Youth and the Dark Lady. Sonnet structure. The main themes. Close reading (selected sonnets).
  • To know about Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet: The sonnets and other poetic forms used in the tragedy. Shakespeare’s sources (The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet by Arthur Brooke, Romeo and Juliet by William Painter): the Bard’s innovation in language, characterization, plot, and genre. The “fate or free will” problem.
  • To know about Shakespeare’s King Lear: The date of composition. Shakespeare’s sources. The central motifs (the Wheel of Fortune, Body / Mind dichotomy etc.). The poetics of despair. The Fool’s function in the play.
  • To know John Donne’s religious background and career. The discourses of spirituality and carnality. The style, main themes, and motifs.
  • To know John Milton’s life. His political and religious aspirations. The divisions of Milton’s creative work. Paradise Lost as an epic poem. The plot, style, characters, main themes, and motifs. The synthesis of Baroque and Classical elements in Paradise Lost.
  • To know Daniel Defoe’s life and occupations. The style and language of Robinson Crusoe. The mode of presentation. Defoe’s sources. The search for the natural man. The protagonist as homo economicus.
  • To know Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s life and works. The versions of the poem. The use of archaisms and the gloss. The meaning of the title. The form, symbolism, main themes, and motifs.
  • To know Charles Dickens’s life. The periods of Dickens’s creative work. The genre of Great Expectations. The main themes and motifs. The panorama of social classes. Dickens's criticism of society The motif of doubles. Dialect as a literary device. The two versions of the ending.
  • To know Oscar Wilde’s life. The issues of marriage and femininity in the play. Wilde’s use of characterization, contradictions, and paradoxes. The symbolic properties of the objects.
  • To know George Bernard Shaw’s life and political views. The issues of class, gender, and language in the play. The transformation of the Pygmalion myth. The subtitle of the play (“a romance”) and its connotations. Different versions of the play and Shaw’s comments.
  • To know Virginia Woolf’s life. The mode of narration in Mrs. Dalloway. Stream of consciousness. The main themes and motifs. The significance of time. Existential issues. The function of allusions to and quotes from Shakespeare.
  • To know George Orwell’s life and his vision of the future gone wrong. The society as presented in the novel. Attitudes to history. Controlling love, information, and language.
  • To know the problems of English history and identity. (Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Buried Giant). The setting and spatial organization. The allusions to King Arthur. The main symbols and motifs (the quest, the island, and the mist). The themes of memory (historical and personal), trust, and deception.
Course Contents

Course Contents

  • Lecture 1. Course introduction. Course requirements. Terminology. Periodization as an organizing principle. The beginnings of British literature. Old English alliterative verse. The theory of oral-formulaic composition. Epic and lyric poems. Christianity and literacy. Medieval authorship. Old English prose.
  • Lecture 2: Middle English literature: Anglo-Norman literature. Romance. Middle English literature in the 14th and 15th centuries. The development of lyric, political, and religious poems. The “Alliterative Revival.” Geoffrey Chaucer. William Caxton and the art of printing.
  • Lecture 3: Sixteenth-century literature: Renaissance humanism and anthropocentrism. Thomas More’s Utopia. The Reformation. The rise of linguistic self-confidence. The Elizabethan Age. Elizabethan poets. The arrival of the sonnet. The golden age of English drama. Public theaters and playing companies. Shakespeare and his contemporaries. The divisions of Shakespeare’s plays.
  • Lecture 4: Seventeenth-century literature: The Jacobean Age. The Authorized (King James) Version of the Bible. The Metaphysical Poets. The works of John Donne. The interaction of inherited ideas and new scientific knowledge. The revolutionary era and the Restoration. Baroque and Classical tendencies. John Milton.
  • Lecture 5: Eighteenth-century literature: The beginning of the Enlightenment. The philosophical background of the epoch: the ideas of Thomas Hobbes and John Locke. The Augustan Age. Political stability and commercial vigour. The advance of middle class literature and periodicals. Scientific discoveries and explorations. Empiricism. The plurality of worlds. Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels. The Age of Sensibility. The rise of the novel.
  • Lecture 6: Romanticism and the major Romantic poets: The transition towards the Romantic period. The political and economic context. The medieval revival and the interest in folklore. The works of William Blake, Robert Burns, and Walter Scott. The rise of Romantic poetry. The shift to individualism. The Lake school. William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads. The works of the later Romantics: John Keats, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and George Gordon Byron.
  • Lecture 7: The Victorian period. The golden age of the novel: Industrialization and economic prosperity. The heyday of the British Empire. The disputes about religion and evolution. The change in the reading public. The realistic novel. Victorian novelists and their literary concerns. The Brontë sisters. Victorian poetry: experimenting with the dramatic monologue. The Pre-Raphaelites.
  • Lecture 8: British literature at the turn of the 20th century: The decay of Victorian values. The key anxieties of the fin de siècle. Aestheticism and decadence. The beginning of the modernist movement in literature. James Joyce. World War I in British poetry: the Trench Poets. The disillusionment of the “Lost Generation.” T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land. Eliot as an American-British poet.
  • Lecture 9: British literature from the 1930s onwards: The politicization of literature. The reaction against modernism. The red decade. The post-World War II changes. The decline of the British Empire and decolonization. The Angry Young Men. The writers from Britain’s former colonies. The late-century mix of voices and styles. Postmodernism.
Assessment Elements

Assessment Elements

  • non-blocking Attendance and participation
    Lecture attendance is compulsory for everyone taking the course. Active participation in group discussions and in-class assignments is required at every seminar and will be evaluated according to a plus / minus scale .
  • non-blocking Ongoing quizzes
    During most seminars, ongoing quizzes will evaluate students’ understanding of required topics, content of required Key Texts, and / or lectures.
  • non-blocking Written home assignments
    There will be several written home assignments in the format of journal writing (analyzing poems of a given period).
  • non-blocking Projects, presentations, and other activities
    Several projects, presentations, and other activities will be given throughout the course as a way for students to demonstrate understanding and mastery in their own unique way. Each student must take part in such activities at least twice per course.
  • non-blocking Written examination
    The written examination consists of a literary analysis essay (2.5–3 A4 pages long), the purpose of which is to carefully examine an aspect of a Key Text discussed in the course and to present an argument / claim about it. The essay should be uploaded as a project via LMS before the deadline (June 20, 23:59). The list of topics and guidelines will be sent via email two weeks before the deadline. Each student taking the exam must choose a topic from the list provided and write their essay during hours of self-guided work. Scoring rubric: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1gr4fNAiD4OnC_OBQI_nS0_h2fzXYyssl/view?usp=sharing Plagiarism will not be tolerated. For each plagiarized sentence, the student loses one point (for example, 8 → 7). If there are more than five plagiarized sentences in one’s work, the grade for the essay is a zero. Sample topics for the written examination (literary analysis essay): 1. The Role of Digressions in Beowulf 2. The Biblical Subtext in Robinson Crusoe 3. Robinson Crusoe as homo economicus For the first retake, students have to write another essay (2–2.5 A4 pages long) according to the same requirements as for the examination itself, but on a different topic from the list provided. The second retake consists of an oral answer on two topics from the same list.
Interim Assessment

Interim Assessment

  • Interim assessment (4 module)
    0.25 * Attendance and participation + 0.15 * Ongoing quizzes + 0.2 * Projects, presentations, and other activities + 0.25 * Written examination + 0.15 * Written home assignments


Recommended Core Bibliography

  • MacPhee, G. (2011). Postwar British Literature and Postcolonial Studies. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=386096

Recommended Additional Bibliography

  • The Cambridge History of Early Modern English Literature. (2003). Cambridge University Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsnar&AN=edsnar.oai.pure.rug.nl.publications.0ef2238e.ac7f.4845.92a2.6c061dff4190