Studies in British Literature: Early English through the Renaissance

Language, Literature & Performing Arts
Course Code
ENGL 2116
Semester Length
15 weeks
Max Class Size
Method Of Instruction
Typically Offered


Course Description
This course offers an historical survey of representative texts from the beginnings of the English language through to the late seventeenth century. Students will read a variety of works, such as Anglo-Saxon verse, Arthurian romance, medieval comic literature, early religious drama, Shakespearean drama, and both secular and sacred lyric poetry, including sonnets from poets such as Shakespeare, Donne and Milton.
Course Content

All second-year English literature courses share the following features:

  1. Students are presumed to be proficient in the writing of critical essays on literary subjects.
  2. Students are required to read in the course subject area beyond the texts assigned by the instructor or discussed in class.
  3. Students are required to incorporate into their oral and written coursework secondary source materials. These may include autobiographical or biographical material; literary criticism or theory; unassigned texts by the author under study; relevant cultural or intellectual history; or other arts, such as music, film, or fine arts.
  4. Readings and topics will vary with each instructor’s presentation of a course; however, all course materials are consistent with the objectives/outcomes for this course.

 In English 2316, students will examine

  1. the development of early English story-telling culture, from an oral to a literary one;
  2. the evolution of over-arching ideas and themes (such as the nature of the hero, the roles and depictions of women, the ideals of kingship and the rise of humanism) in the literature of these centuries;   
  3. the evolution of the English language as reflected in the literature of these centuries. 

Sample reading list

 The syllabus for 2116 will typically draw from the following works:  

  • “Caedmon’s Hymn”*
  •  Beowulf*
  • Sir Gawain and the Green Knight*
  • Selections from Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales
  • Selections from Julian of Norwich’s Revelations of Divine Love
  • Malory’s Le Morte Darthur, Books 7 and 8
  • Everyman
  • Selections of Tudor and Elizabethan lyric poetry, letters and/or essays
  • A Shakespeare play
  • Donne, selected poems and meditations
  • Milton, selected sonnets and books of Paradise Lost 

*These works available in modern English translation.


Methods Of Instruction

Some or all of the following methods will be used:

  • Lecture/discussion;
  • Group work;
  • Peer editing;
  • Group or individual presentations;
  • Independent research;
  • Instructor feedback on students’ work; and
  • Individual consultation.
Means of Assessment
  1. A minimum of two formal academic essays, with a combined total of at least 40% of the course grade.
  2. A minimum of 80% of the course grade will be based on writing assignments (essays, essay-based exams, journals, paragraphs).  A maximum of 20% of the course grade may be based on informal writing (quizzes, short answer tests); oral reports/presentations; participation/preparation grades; and/or other non writing-intensive assignments.
  3. A minimum of 15% of the course grade will be based on in-class writing (essay or exam).

According to the College Evaluation Policy, the final grade awarded to each student shall consist of at least three separate assessments. No single assessment will be weighted at more than 40% of the final course grade.

Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of any second-year English literature course, the student should be able to

  1. use with increased proficiency the skills of literary analysis taught in first-year English courses;
  2. recognize the significance of the literary and other contexts (such as biographical, historical, mythological or philosophical) of a work being studied;
  3. read critically and use in essays secondary sources (such as criticism or other texts by the same author) as an aid to comprehending the primary text(s) being studied;
  4. read critically and independently texts not discussed in class; and
  5. formulate a thesis on a given subject in one or more specific works, and to develop this thesis using suitable textual evidence.

Upon completion of English 2116, the student should also have a deeper understanding of

  1. the early history of the English language;
  2. the range and complexity of English literature of this period; and
  3. the relationship between religious, political and social developments and the creation of literature.
Textbook Materials

Sample textbook list:

  • Abrams et al, The Norton Anthology of English Literature, Volumes A and B (current edition)
  • Malory, Le Morte Darthur, Books 7 and 8
  • Shakespeare, The Winter’s Tale



Any two university-transfer first-year English literature courses, or one university-transfer first-year English literature course and one university-transfer first-year Creative Writing or English writing course.                


No corequisite courses.


No equivalent courses.

Course Guidelines

Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester / year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

Course Transfers

Institution Transfer Details Effective Dates
Camosun College (CAMO) CAMO ENGL 280 (3) 2014/09/01 to -
Capilano University (CAPU) CAPU ENGL 200 (3) 2014/09/01 to -
Emily Carr University of Art & Design (EC) EC ENGL 200 lev (3) 2013/09/01 to -
Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU) FDU ENGL 2203 (3) 2014/09/01 to -
Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) KPU ENGL 2316 (3) 2014/09/01 to -
Langara College (LANG) LANG ENGL 2223 (3) 2014/09/01 to -
Simon Fraser University (SFU) SFU ENGL 203 (3) 2014/09/01 to -
Thompson Rivers University (TRU) TRU ENGL 2110 (3) 2014/09/01 to -
Trinity Western University (TWU) TWU ENGL 2XX (3) 2014/09/01 to -
University Canada West (UCW) UCW ENGL 2XX (3) 2014/09/01 to -
University of British Columbia - Okanagan (UBCO) UBCO ENGL 220 (3) 2014/09/01 to -
University of British Columbia - Vancouver (UBCV) UBCV ENGL 220 (3) 2014/09/01 to -
University of Northern BC (UNBC) UNBC ENGL 211 (3) 2014/09/01 to -
University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) UFV ENGL 2XX (3) 2014/09/01 to -
University of Victoria (UVIC) UVIC ENGL 200A (1.5) 2014/09/01 to -
Vancouver Island University (VIU) VIU ENGL 2nd (3) 2014/09/01 to -

Course Offerings

Fall 2021

There aren't any scheduled upcoming offerings for this course.