English 20 introduces students to the three hundred years of English literature, language, and culture stretching from Chaucer through Spenser, Shakespeare, and Milton. Our special focus in this class will be on how the writers of this period thought and wrote about the self. Specifically, we will examine the rich and varied traditions of poetry and prose written about erotic desire and sexuality, and we will discuss how desire organizes and structures individual identity. Texts will include selections from Chaucer's _Canterbury Tales_ and _Troilus and Cressida_, Shakespeare's _Venus and Adonis_ and _Othello_, Christopher Marlowe's _Hero and Leander_, Sidney's _Astrophil and Stella_, Spenser's _Faerie Queene_ and _Amoretti_, John Donne's _Songs and Sonnets_, and Milton's _Paradise Lost_. Our discussion of these writers will also integrate selective samplings from the classical (Greek and Latin) and continental writers whose ideas about Eros and personal identity influenced English writers, such as Sappho, Plato, Ovid, St. Augustine, Dante and Petrarch. This organization is designed to give students a sense of the roots and sources of the English literary tradition, but the class will also provide an excellent introduction to the humanities generally.
This course will teach the specific methods and skills of textual analysis and critical reasoning, developing students' abilities to write and research papers in the humanities. English 20 satisfies the Arts and Letters requirement, and is a requirement for English Majors.