British Lit I


What does it meant to belong to a group? What does it mean to have an identity and move through a space?

This course serves as an entry point to the study of early British literature. It examines a broad scope of texts written between the 7th and 17th Centuries that comprise a portion of what we call the “canon” of British literature. This survey engages with poetry, prose, and drama that imagine the complexities of intersectional identity, render England as part of a global stage, and challenge conventions of sexuality and gender. It traces early literature written by and about people on the margins of “Britishness” such as women, people of color, religious exiles, and political refugees. Even as it reimagines traditional ideas of “canon”, the course also analyzes works by writers like Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton in their political, social, religious, and intellectual contexts.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Develop a working knowledge of the major movements in British literary history from the medieval through the early modern periods;
  • Examine emerging and competing notions of nation and identity in literary texts through historical contexts;
  • Demonstrate facility with primary text, literary terms, and cultural theories;
  • Advance skills in critical writing, analysis, and argumentation based on a literary text.

Recognizing Indigenous and Racial Injustices:

Our classroom at Clark University, in Worcester, Massachusetts, occupies the territorial homelands of the Nipmuc Nation. The Nipmuc have called this land home for centuries – long before the invasion of white English and American settlers. We acknowledge this unceded land as theirs.

We also refuse to forget how free Black people were kidnapped from their homelands, transported across the ocean, and held in bondage here in the Colony-now-Commonwealth of Massachusetts by those whom we call founders and revolutionaries. This land remembers both the enslaved and the free, and their intimate relationship with the Nipmuc.

Course Books:

The Broadview Anthology of British Literature: Concise Volume A – 3rd Edition (2016)

Course Access Resources:

Technology and Access

  • I want you to be able to access the course in whatever way best suits your neurodivergent needs. This may include:
    • Using a laptop or mobile device to take notes
    • Taking a short break in the hall
    • Asking for large-print and/or hard-copy text
    • Sitting on the floor for a while
    • Letting the professor/TA know you’re not feeling well
    • Using an e-book instead of a physical book
    • Using your personal experience as quality evidence


  • I believe in the exploratory potential of college, and I want you to bring your best and whole selves as often as you can to the classroom. It is incredibly difficult to do this in a rigid system.
  • I endeavor to make our class as flexible as possible for you, and I hope you extend the same to me. This could mean:
    • Adjusting the syllabus when needed
    • Adding an assignment when needed
    • Taking a little extra time on an essay, with permission from the professor
    • Turning in assignments early
    • Asking to submit an assignment in a different modality
    • Moving the class to Zoom one day
    • Centering asynchronous learning

Assessment (constantly evolving):

2 Essays

2 Exams – open book, in class; mix of identification and short answer