This semester I will be teaching the entire canon of British Literature, from about 900-2014. I cannot imagine a greater professional privilege. English 255 surveys medieval and early modern literature, covering Beowulf, Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, Thomas More’s Utopia, Edmund Spenser’s Faerie Queene, William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, and the sonnets, sermons, speeches, and lyric poems of the early and late English Renaissance.
English 256 then picks up at the English Restoration and will cover Romantic, Victorian, and modern authors such as Samuel Taylor Coleridge, William Blake, William Wordsworth, Percy Shelley, John Keats, Thomas Carlyle, the Brontës, Gerard Manley Hopkins, and George Eliot’s masterpiece Middlemarch.
Both courses will read Margaret Cavendish, the seventeenth-century scientist and fiction writer pictured above. Faced with a world that didn’t accept her as an intellectual, she created her own world:
I am not Covetous, but as Ambitious as ever any of my Sex was… [so while] I cannot be Henry the Fifth, or Charles the Second; yet, I will endeavor to be, Margaret the First: and, though I have neither Power, Time nor Occasion, to be a great Conqueror, like Alexander, or Cesar; yet, rather than not be Mistress of a World, since Fortune and the Fates would give me none, I have made one of my own.
I look forward to a semester in which we discover the literary worlds that have been created for the last 1100 years.