This course offers an overview of literature produced in Britain from the tenth century to the seventeenth. We will think about how literature shapes cultural understanding of the family, the nation, gender, race, and sexuality. Organized around the principle of genre and form, our readings will explore the realm of the ‘premodern.’ While many of our older texts will be provided for you in translation, we will make a concerted effort to read some passages in Old and Middle English. No previous experience with medieval or Renaissance literature is required; in fact, this course serves as the department’s main introduction to early British literature. Assignments will include two short essays, and two take-home exams.