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Thompson Rivers University
Thompson Rivers University

ENGL 2111: English Literature from Chaucer to Milton

This course is a brief, selective survey of English literature from Chaucer to the late seventeenth century. The reading list is drawn from a list that includes Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra, and Milton’s Paradise Lost (selections) as well as some of the works of such Elizabethan and Jacobean poets as Spenser, Shakespeare, Donne, and Jonson.

Learning outcomes

  • Read closely and understand Middle and Early Modern English, from Chaucer's rhyming couplets to Milton's blank verse.
  • Recognize and understand figurative language, such as allegory and metaphor, and literary techniques, like irony, rhyme, and allusion.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the style, structure, and content of the assigned literary texts, from Chaucer to Milton.
  • Identify the unique qualities of the authors studied, and compare and contrast them.
  • Situate the assigned literary texts in their historical contexts and recognize the impact of major events and transitions.
  • Develop a well-written argument about one or more literary texts or authors, and accurately cite literary and other sources.

Course topics

Unit 1: Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales and English Literature in the Fourteenth Century

Unit 2: Elizabethan Literature: The Verse Exchange, the Epic Romance, and the English Sonnet

Unit 3: William Shakespeare's The Tempest: Text, Criticism, Performance, and Appropriation

Unit 4: Four English Poets of the Seventeenth Century: John Donne, Aemilia Lanyer, Katherine Philips, and John Milton

Required text and materials

The following materials are required for this course:

  1. Greenblatt, Stephen, et al., eds. The Norton Anthology of English Literature: Major Authors. Volume 1, 10th ed. New York and London: W.W. Norton, 2019.
    Type: Textbook ISBN: 978-0-393-60308-8
  1. Hulme, Peter and William H. Sherman, eds. The Tempest: William Shakespeare. Second Norton Critical Edition. New York and London: W.W. Norton, 2019. Type: Textbook ISBN: 978-0-393-26542-2

Note: Students will be receiving a text bundle which includes both the above-noted books under one ISBN: 978-0-393-44957-0

Students require the following e-textbook, which can be purchased directly from the link at:

  1. Barnet, Sylvan and William Cain. A Short Guide to Writing about Literature. 12th ed. Boston: Pearson, 2012.
    Type: E-Textbook. ISBN: 9780133887426

Please Note:
ENGL 2111 makes use of the textbook publisher’s Digital Resources website. To access the online materials, you will need to create an account following the instructions on the website.
Thompson Rivers University is not responsible for the content or privacy policies of third-party websites. Please read the terms of use of third-party websites carefully. If you need help accessing the site, please contact the publisher directly.


Please be aware that should your course have a final exam, you are responsible for the fee to the online proctoring service, ProctorU, or to the in-person approved Testing Centre. Please contact with any questions about this.

To successfully complete this course, students must achieve a passing grade of 50% or higher on the overall course, and 50% or higher on the final mandatory exam.

Assignment 1: Canterbury Tales 15%
Assignment 2: Elizabethan Literature 15%
Assignment 3: Shakespeare’s The Tempest 15%
Assignment 4: Seventeenth Century Literature 15%
Final Exam (mandatory) 40%
Total 100%

Open Learning Faculty Member Information

An Open Learning Faculty Member is available to assist students. Students will receive the necessary contact information at the start of the course.

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