EAS1035 - Beginnings: English Literature before 1800

2011/2 Module description

Lecturer(s)Tricia Zakreski (convenor)
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15.00
Duration of ModuleOne Term
Total Student Study Time300 hours (including 1x2hr seminar and 1x1hr lecture a week)

Module aims

This module selects texts that represent some of the richest sources and most complex moments of English cultural history before 1800. These texts, and the cultural elements they combine, went on to have afterlives of great significance for English language, literature and other media. In other senses, they offered legacies that were not taken up, and what has been lost in cultural transformations will also be considered. The module will introduce students to these major literary texts. In doing so, it aims to cultivate modes of reading and critical analysis broadly informed by an attention to history and context. Such analysis will include ideas of subjectivity, identity, conflict, community, myth, the transmission of stories, storytelling, translation, transformation, and influence. This module will emphasise essay-writing skills that are fundamental to research and communication in English literature.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module, students should be able to:

Learning and teaching methods

Details of Learning and Teaching Methods:
Teaching is by weekly two-hour seminar and one-hour lecture, supported by an Exeter Learning Environment site. Students will be expected to participate in class discussion and to work in study groups in preparation for seminars. Seminar attendance is compulsory. Participation in formative work on the Exeter Learning Environment is compulsory for completion of the module.


-500 word close analysis
-Formative essay draft
-1000 word essay
-2000 word essay
-Formatve group presentation


10%- Close Analysis (500 words)
ILOs assessed: 1, 3-9
Feedback: Feedback sheet with opportunity for office hours follow up.

Formative- Essay Draft (1000 words)
ILOs assessed: 1, 3-6, 8, 9
Feedback: Peer feedback. Opportunity for office hours follow-up. Cohort feedback via lectures, seminars and/or Exeter Learning Environment.

30% - Essay (1000 words)
ILOs assessed: 1-6, 8, 9
Feedback: Feedback sheet with opportunity for office hours follow-up. Cohort feedback via lectures, seminars and/or Exeter Learning Environment

50%- Essay (2000 words)
ILOs assessed 1-6, 8, 9
Feedback: Feedback sheet with opportunity for office hours follow-up

Formative- Group Presentation (10 minutes)
ILOs assessed: 1, 3-7, 9
Feedback: Oral feedback from tutor and peers. Opportunity for office hours follow-up

10%- Seminar Participation (continuous)
ILOs assessed: 1-7, 9
Feedback: Oral feedback from tutor. Opportunity for office hours follow-up.

Syllabus plan

1. Stories of origin: extracts from Genesis and Gilgamesh
2. The Odyssey, Homer
3. Beowulf, tr. Seamus Heaney
4. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, tr. Bernard O'Donoghue
5. Christopher Marlowe, Hero and Leander
6. William Shakespeare, The Winter's Tale
7. Arabian Nights
8. John Milton, Paradise Lost, books 1-2, 4, 9
9. Alexander Pope, Essay on Man
10. Jonathan Swift, Gulliver's Travels
11. Mary Wollstonecraft, Letters Written During a Short Residence in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark

Indicative basic reading list

Indicative basic reading list:

Primary texts
You should buy copies of each of these books.
The Odyssey of Homer. Trans. Richard Lattimore (HarperCollins 2007)
Arabian Nights Entertainments. Ed. Robert Mack (Oxford UP, 1995).
Beowulf. Trans. Seamus Heaney. Ed. Daniel Donoghue (Norton, 2000).
John Milton. Paradise Lost. Ed. John Leonard (Penguin, 2003).
William Shakespeare. The Winter's Tale. Ed. Stephen Orgel (Oxford UP, 1998).
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Trans. Bernard O'Donoghue (Penguin, 2006).
Jonathan Swift. Gulliver's Travels, Ed. Claude Rawson and Ian Higgins (Oxford UP, 2008).
Mary Wollstonecraft. A Short Residence in Sweden, Norway and Denmark and Memoirs of the Author of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. Ed. Richard Holmes (Penguin, 1987).

Selected secondary texts
Listed here are a few examples of secondary reading recommended for the first two weeks of the module.
Delumeau, Jean. History of Paradise: The Garden of Eden in Myth and Tradition. Trans. Matthew O'Connell. Urbana: U of Illinois P, 2000.
Murphy, Cullen. The Word According to Eve: Women and the Bible in Ancient Times and Our Own. London: Allen Lane-Penguin, 1998.
Orchard, Andy. A Critical Companion to Beowulf (2003)
Orchard, Andy. Pride and Prodigies: studies in the monsters of the Beowulf-manuscript (1995), esp. chapters II-III.

Indicative web-based resources:
The module description, module reading pack, lecture lists, lecture materials, additional reading materials, useful web links and a discussion forum will be available via the Exeter Learning Environment.

Important please note

Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the module descriptors for the Online Module Selection process, please be aware that on rare occasions it may be necessary to remove proposed modules for reasons beyond our control. In addition, there are still some new modules going through the accreditation process. These will be offered in due course by the relevant discipline.

All modules displayed below have been approved by the approval process but may require further minor amendments before the commencement of teaching.

We are committed to providing an outstanding education and high quality teaching. You can find out details of your modules and any potential changes on these pages. If you are a returning student, joining after the first year or a postgraduate student details of your module changes will be provided in August. Find out more about the overall teaching and learning approach on your course, and please be aware that this information may supersede the specified teaching and learning activities within individual modules.

Foreign Language Centre modules 2020/21

Term 1 module codes listed above ending with C, i.e. FLF1115C, are only available to outbound students who are away in Term 2. Students studying all year must select the standard module across both Term 1 and 2.