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ENGL 1500 Masterpieces of British Literature


Darin Graber, PhD


This is a survey of major authors, movements, and topics of British literature from its first extant texts to the twentieth century.  The reading schedule may be strenuous at times, in order to provide a reasonable representation of this vast field.  The course is organized into three units, each moving independently and chronologically to track the development of particular themes through the history of British literature.  The three units will be entitled “The Monster and the Monstrous,” “Desire—The Individual and Society,” and “Blackness, ‘Others,’ Colonies, and the British Homeland.”


  • Gain an awareness of major movements in the field of English literature, along with historical and contemporary trends in literary study and interpretation. Particularly, we will seek to understand the historical continuity between thematic, cultural, political, and other problematic topics that persist beyond concepts of literary periodization and genre definitions.
  • Develop close reading skills and gain competence in carrying out broader analysis informed by such close reading, awareness of historical context, and intertextual reading.
  • Express complex questions, analyses, and arguments in clear prose, across various modes of writing.


  • The Norton Anthology of English Literature: The Major Authors, 9th edition, 2013. ISBN-13: 978-0393919639
  • Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein. Norton Critical Editions, Second Edition, 2012. ISBN-13: 978-0393927931
  • Brontë, Emily. Wuthering Heights. Norton Critical Editions, Fourth Edition, 2002. ISBN-13: 978-0393978896
  • Hardy, Thomas. Tess of the D’Urbervilles. Penguin Classics, 2003.

ISBN-13: 978-0141439594

Please buy these versions.  Pay close attention in particular to the “The Major Authors” subtitle for the Norton Anthology, because there are various other versions.  It will be vital that we all have the same editorial notes, paginations, and versions of the text in order to fruitfully discuss the works together.


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