ENGL 2211: English Literature of the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries

This course examines some of the key writings of major authors in English literature from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries (continuation of ENGL 2111). The reading list is drawn from a list that includes Pope, Blake, Coleridge, Wordsworth, Keats, Emily Bronte, Arnold, Tennyson, and Browning. Attention is also given to the political, philosophical, social, and religious atmospheres of what we now call the Neo-Classical, the Romantic, and the Victoria periods of English literature.


After successfully completing this course, you will be able to:

  1. Read closely and understand English literature from Dryden's humorous couplets in "Mac Flecknoe" to Arnold's distressing stanzas of "Dover Beach."
  2. Recognize and understand figurative language, such as metaphors and symbols, and literary techniques, like irony, satire, rhyme, and allusion.
  3. Demonstrate knowledge of the style, structure, and content of the assigned literary texts, from The Restoration to The Victorian Age.
  4. Identify the unique qualities of the authors studied, and compare and contrast them.
  5. Situate the assigned literary texts in their historical contexts and recognize the impact of major events and transitions.
  6. Develop a well-written argument about one or more literary texts or authors, and accurately cite literary and other sources.

Course outline

ENGL 2211: English Literature of the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries includes the following four units:

Unit 1:

  • An introduction to English literature of The Restoration and Eighteenth Century through a selection of works by five different authors. Students read Dryden's "Mac Flecknoe," Swift's "Modest Proposal," Pope's Rape of the Lock, Montagu's "Epistle from Mrs. Yonge to Her Husband" and selections from Burney's Journal and Letters. The historical context of this period is considered with a focus on conditions of literary production and the issues of social and political importance treated in the assigned texts. Activities and commentaries guide students through setting up a course notebook, reading with pencil in hand, detecting and understanding satire and irony, and unpacking heroic couplets. At the end of the unit, students complete Assignment 1, an essay with a well-developed thesis on some aspect of one or more of the assigned literary texts. See the Assignment File for specific details.

Unit 2:

  • An introduction to Romanticism and Romantic poetry in which students read poetry by Barbauld, Smith, Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge and Keats. Poems are clustered according to content under four topics central to Romantic poetry: Poets in Their Poems (Blake and Keats), Childhood Perspectives (Barbauld, Blake and Wordsworth), Natural Perceptions (Barbauld, Smith, Blake, Wordsworth and Keats) and Poetic Excursions into the Supernatural (Coleridge and Keats). Activities focus on the relationship between the speakers and authors of poems, the movement of thought and narrative in poetry, and the images, symbols and sound effects used by poets. At the end of the unit, Assignment 2 has students writing an essay with an argument developed from the close reading of one or more of the assigned poems. See the Assignment File for specific details.

Unit 3:

  • An introduction to Austen and her inimical prose through the novel Northanger Abbey. Students read the novel within its contemporary social and literary context, but they also have the opportunity to compare it to a recent film version of Northanger Abbey by Andrew Davies, and to reflect on the enduring popularity of Austen's writing. Excerpts from conduct literature for women, novels that influenced Northanger Abbey, and critical writing of the time about novels will also be considered. Activities guide students through analyzing Austen's sophisticated use of irony, her development of character, her literary allusions, and her social and political message. To complete Assignment 3 at the end of the unit, students choose from a number of topics and write an essay on Northanger Abbey that uses at least one additional source in developing its thesis. See the Assignment File for specific details.

Unit 4:

  • An introduction to English literature of The Victorian Age through the poetry of Barrett Browning, Tennyson, Browning and Arnold. Students read two poems by each author: Barrett Browning's "Runaway Slave at Pilgrim's Point" and selections from Aurora Leigh; Tennyson's Arthurian poems, "The Lady of Shalott" and "The Passing of Arthur"; Browning's "My Last Duchess" and "The Bishop Orders His Tomb at Saint Praxed's Church"; and Arnold's "Scholar Gypsy" and "Dover Beach." Activities focus on literary presentations of women, social commentary via poetry, the poetic use of the historical and literary past, meaningful descriptions of setting and scenery, reading dramatic monologues, and detecting the conflicts of Victorian society in its poetry. Assignment 4 asks students to write an essay on a choice of topics requiring close reading, analytical thinking, and the careful development of a literary argument. See the Assignment File for specific details.

Required text and materials

This is a companion course to ENGL 2111. Therefore, a portion of the following texts are required but not included in the course package.

If you did not take ENGL 2111 and don't already own the required materials, please be aware that you will need to purchase them. To do so, contact Enrolment Services at student@tru.ca or phone 1.800.663.9711.

  1. Ed. Stephen Greenblatt et al. The Norton Anthology of English Literature: Major Authors Edition. Volume 1, 9th ed. New York and London: W. W. Norton, 2013.
    Type: Textbook ISBN: 9780393919646
  1. Barnet, Sylvan and William E. Cain. A Short Guide to Writing About Literature. 12e. 2012.
    Type: Textbook ISBN: 9780205118458

Students will receive the following:

  1. Jane Austen. Masterpiece: Northanger Abbey. 2008.
    Type: DVD WG42189

Students will need to source the following on their own:

  1. Ed. Stephen Greenblatt et al. The Norton Anthology of English Literature: Major Authors Edition. Volume 2, 9th ed. New York and London: W. W. Norton, 2013.
    Type: Textbook ISBN: 9780393919653
  1. Jane Austen. Northanger Abbey. 1e. W. W. Norton, 2004.
    Type: Textbook ISBN: 9780393978506

Additional requirements

DVD player is required for this course.


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. It is strongly recommended that students complete all assignments in order to achieve the learning objectives of the course. The total mark will be determined on the following basis:

Assignment 1 15%
Assignment 2 15%
Assignment 3 15%
Assignment 4 15%
Final examination (mandatory) 40%
Total 100%

Open Learning Faculty Member

An Open Learning Faculty Member is available to assist students. Primary communication is by phone if you are taking the print version of the course and through the Learning Management System "Mail" tool if you are taking the web version. You will receive the necessary contact information when you start your course

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