LITR 420 British Literature Survey: From the Romantics to the Modernists


This is a literature survey that I developed for NYiT’s English literature program.

Books for the Course:

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Catalog Description:

A literature survey that introduces students to major pieces of British literature from the Romantic, Victorian, and Modern eras. Prerequisite: Composition II.

Course Introduction:

This literature survey is intended to introduce students to a variety of literary works by British writers from the “Romantic,” “Victorian,” and “Modern” periods (and if time permits, we may get into some “Postmodern” literature). We will study the distinguishing features of these literary labels and examine how these literary eras are interrelated. Furthermore, we will attempt to come to a richer understanding of the social and cultural contexts creating and recreated in the literature. That is, we will look at how the works are simultaneously a product of its age and a reaction to it. One way to do this is to focus on notions of radicalism and disillusionment, sentiments that have informed Western literary production for centuries and that speak vividly to us today. In the context of this course, we will consider these sentiments as they were shaped by such events as the French Revolution, the Napoleonic Wars, the Industrial Revolution, British Imperialism (particularly in India, Ireland, and the West Indies), World War I, and World War II.

Core Learning Outcomes:

  1. Literacy: Students will be able to read and discuss poems, novels, and prose, drawing thematic connections between texts, presenting and defending cogent interpretations, and helping peers develop their own interpretive views.
  2. Critical/Analytical Thinking: Students will be able to read, analyze, and discuss literary criticism and cultural studies articles so as to engage well informed analysis of the literature and social issues, to enhance their own views, and to learn how to link other critics’ views to their own. Students will learn to discuss the relationships between a writer’s worldview and the literature he/she creates and to analyze how authors grapple with leading intellectual questions and debates of their time period through literary expression.
  3. Communication: Students will be able to discuss their own ideas and interpretations and to examine critically the views of their peers, to deliver a PPT presentation, to write coherent response journals and discussion question responses, and to write a traditional academic research paper that presents a focused interpretation and supports interpretive claims with evidence from the literary texts, literary criticism, and contextual information (such as history, religion, philosophy, political theory, and ethical theory).
  4. Interdisciplinary Mindset: Students will study the literature by combining literary criticism with historical and socio-political inquiry, thus achieving a deeper understanding of the times and the literature through interdisciplinary analysis.
  5. Ethical/Moral and Citizenship Appreciation: Students will be able to analyze questions relating to ethics in nineteenth-century science, moral interrelationships between religion and society in the Victorian period, and the moral responsibility of government in modern society.