English 255: British Literature to 1660

Higinbotham 255 Syllabus Fall 2020 with links

Sample Annotated Bibliography Shakespeare

Love and Service in Twelfth Night


Electronic Beowulf 4.0

Perspectives on Beowulf (Martin Winkler, 2015)
a well made epic (Watson)
not very well made up epic (Ker)
no epic at all(Chambers)
Christian allegory (Klaeber)
a great poem with majestic theme but nothing more (Tolkien)
a poem of unprecedented mythic potency (Heaney)
an incomplete fusion of Pagan and Christian (Kennedy)
an allegory of complementary politics (Earle)
an allegory of salvation (McNamee)
Christian-made defence of pagan past (Benson),
a story featuring pagan elements presented in a Christian light (Benson)
a Christian poem infused with pagan colouring (Chadwick, Blackburn)
mainly a work of art (Sherman)
a picture of pre-Christian Germanic society (Nerman)
an important historical document (Strong)
not a precise historical account (Watson)
Nordic legend (Hoop)
a portrayal of Swedish, Danish and Geat genealogy (Frank, Wormald)
a mixture of shorter lays put together by later redactors (Müllenhoff),
a biblical allusion (Girvan)
first pre-humanistic writing (Hill)

J.R.R. Tolkien, “Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics”

“[Beowulf] is not an ‘epic‘, nor even a magnified ‘lay‘. No terms borrowed from Greek or other literatures exactly fit: there is no reason why they should. Though if we must have a term, we should choose rather ‘elegy‘. It is an heroic-elegiac poem; and in a sense all its first 3,136 lines are the prelude to a dirge.”

World Fantasy Awards, 2019 (Beowulf)


Beowulf Covers (visual rhetoric):


















“Literary theory” or “literary criticism” can be understood as the 
way that one’s interpretation of a text occurs within a framework of
 intellectual assumptions.

“Theory,” from the Greek “theoria”: indicates a view or perspective 
of the Greek stage. Note that means that each literary theory gives a
partial view of the text. Many literary critics defend their approach
as the most significant or the most revelatory, but in fact a variety of
 insightful, careful critical approaches does justice to a work of
 literary art.

FEMINISM: challenges male assumptions and analyzes literature from the perspective of women, whose perspectives and even human rights have been traditionally suppressed

CRITICAL RACE THEORY: examines literature in light of categorizations of race, law, and power

DISABILITY THEORY: (Emory) involves scrutinizing not bodily or mental impairments but the social norms that define particular attributes as impairments, as well as the social conditions that concentrate stigmatized attributes in particular populations

ECO-CRITICISM: explores the treatment and descriptions of the natural world within

FORMALISM: ignores the context, culture, authorship, and other “outside” factors and focuses
on the language, modes, and “forms” of the text.

MARXISM/CULTURAL MATERIALISM: what are the roles of class conflict, wealth, and power in
the text?

POSTCOLONIALISM: the role of exploitation within texts

PSYCHOANALYTICAL: the role of the characters’ and readers’ conscious and unconscious

QUEER THEORY: criticizes the roles of gender identity in the text

MASCULINITIES: interdisciplinary field of study broadly concerned with the social construction of what it means to “be a man.” Masculinities scholars study the social role and meanings of masculinities.

Jack Wolfram Ableism Beowulf

Chaucer Website

Chaucer Doth Tweet
Geoffrey Chaucer Hath a Blog
Chaucer’s advice for returning to school
Punishment for Fake Pilgrims: Punishment of the Pillory and Whetstone, for pretending to be a Hermit

ON the 20th day of July, in the 13th year etc., William Blakeney, shetilmaker [shuttlemaker], who pretended to be a hermit, was brought unto the Guildhall, before Robert Chichele, Mayor, the Aldermen, and Sheriffs, for that, whereas he was able to work for his food and raiment, he, the same William, went about there, barefooted and with long hair, under the guise of sanctity, and pretended to be an hermit, saying that he was such, and that he had made pilgrimage to Jerusalem, Rome, Venice, and the city of Seville, in Spain; and under colour of such falsehood he had and received many good things from divers persons, to the defrauding, and in manifest deceit, of all the people.

And he was asked how he would acquit himself thereof. Whereupon, he acknowledged that for the last six years he had lived by such lies, falsities, and deceits, so invented by him, to the defrauding of the people, under the colour of such feigned sanctity, and that he never was in the parts aforesaid; which was also found out by the Court. And therefore etc. it was adjudged that the said William should be put upon the pillory for three market-days, there to remain for one hour each day, the reason for the same being there proclaimed; and he was to have, in the meantime, whetstone hung from his neck. And precept was given to the Sheriffs to do execution thereof.

From Memorials of London and London life, in the XIIIth, XIVth, and XVth centuries. Being a series of extracts, local, social, and political, from the early archives of the City of London, A.D. 1276-1419. Selected, tr., and ed. by Henry Thomas Riley … London, Longmans, Green and Co., 1868 [Hilles: 942.1 2].

Why animals? 

Parson’s Tale: last tale

Wyatt’s “They Flee From Me” Egerton MS

Six Degrees of Francis Bacon

Better Living through Beowulf


“An Allegory of the Tudor Succession”






The Fatal Wounding of Philip Sidney



Leah Marcus, Unediting the Renaissance

“Is Not Thy Soul Thine Own?”: An Analysis of Second-Person Pronouns in Christopher Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus and The Jew of Malta

“Mark this show”: Magic and Theater in Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus

William Blake’s Faerie Queene








Ben Jonson (c. 1617), by Abraham Blyenberch; oil on canvas painting at the National Portrait Gallery, London
“Donne, for not keeping of accent deserved hanging” Ben Jonson, 1623


Portrait of Samuel Johnson in 1772 painted by Sir Joshua Reynolds
On John Donne: “The most heterogeneous ideas are yoked by violence together; nature and art are ransacked for illustrations, comparisons, and allusions.” Samuel Johnson, 1772