English 209 World Literature Dr. Anne Mills King

CREDIT: Three credits, fulfilling the literature/humanities requirement

Have you ever wondered why "Beowulf" appeared for twelve weeks on the Washington Post best seller list? Find out why in this course!

English 209 (World Literature from the Beginnings to the Renaissance) will look at heroes and villains from earliest Greek times, through the Dark Ages, to the Renaissance and its re‑evaluation of the human condition.

We will read some of the Oedipus cycle of plays (and may see a new production of them), the new poetic translation of Beowulf by the modern Irish poet Seamus Heaney, a really funny version of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, the Renaissance entrepreneur's The Prince, by Machiavelli, along with some haunting poetry. Books will be small paperbacks, supplemented by handouts and internet references. Journals, reports, projects, even tests, will make this course an intriguing and challenging introduction to classics.

Books: These are paperbacks, and can be obtained at the college bookstore, other bookstores, or on line. They will be supplemented by handouts and web information.

The Iliad, Homer, Faigles translation

The Theban Plays, Sophocles (Penguin 0140440038)

Beowulf, translated by Seamus Heaney (Norton 0393320979)

The Canterbury Tales, Coghill translation (Penguin 0140440224)

The Prince, Machiavelli (Bantam 0553212788)

How to find me: Office: Marlboro 3056. Office hours posted on the door. Phone: 301‑322‑0594. Call and leave a voice mail; I'll return it!

E‑mail: aking@pgcc.edu

This syllabus and much other information will be on my web page: http://academic.pgcc.edu/~aking

Class attendance in college: what I expect from you:


!                   You are expected to attend college classes in a mature, serious manner. If you need to miss class, it is your responsibility to make up the work or to inform yourself about material discussed in class.


!                   You must come to class on time and stay until the class is dismissed. I will pass around an attendance sheet for you to sign in the first ten minutes of class; after that you may no longer sign it.


!                   Absences, including not signing the attendance sheet, will affect your grade. If you have more than two week's worth of absences, you will lose up to 10% of your grade for the course.


!                   If you need to leave the classroom during the class time, do not return and disrupt the class a second time.


!                   Try not to make other appointments during the time you are expected to be in class. If this is absolutely unavoidable, let me know ahead of time.

What to expect from me: Though deadlines are firm, assignments are flexible. I will return paper and tests, graded, within one week. You will have five grades: tests, papers, and projects. In addition, a journal is required. You will be downgraded for late papers (unacceptable anyway) and for excessive absences (more than 2 absences will take away 5% of your grade). Don't stay away from class if you are unprepared; you will lose doubly. All papers must be typed.What you learn here meshes with other courses in history, sociology, literature. We will have films, music, possible field trips, and other unique not‑to‑be‑missed happenings.

Journal: is a chronicle of your reactions as you read, not a rehash of plot or text or web material. It can include your comments, reactions, clippings, book reviews from magazines or newspapers (sources acknowledged), or drawings.

Projects: Oral or written reports on some of the authors and writings from suggested lists, not assigned to the whole class. They may be a mini‑lesson for the class on a favorite writer, or a panel discussion (Meeting of the Minds). You will do at least two of these during the semester; assignments will be made early after you explore the books.



!                   Two tests: midterm (20%) and final (25%)


!                   one report on another writer ‑15%


!                   one documented paper on an issue connected with the course‑‑‑20%


!                   quizzes (5%) attendance (5%) participation, Journal‑‑10%

Here's how I figure grades: A= 3.6‑4.; B= 2.6‑3.5; C= 1.6‑2.5; D= .8‑1.5; F= 0.

You will receive separate handouts on the paper and reports. During the semester, at the check points after papers are due, you will receive something like this:


ENGLISH 209 Fall 2003‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑DR. KING


Your Name



JOURNAL (later date): Excellent, concise, perceptive journal‑‑[if that's the case. Lots of comments].


PAPER (20%):

Quizzes (5%); ATTENDANCE (5%); JOURNAL GRADE (10%)






Week 1


Introduction to the course, the classmates, all kinds of lists, video in class to introduce the Iliad


Week 2


College closed‑Labor Day. You have two weeks to read the Iliad


Week 3


The Iliad.


Week 4


Oedipus and the Theban cycle of plays. Read Oedipus Rex


Week 5




Week 6


Beowulf‑monster stories in the dark ages Meet in classroom first, then we'll visit the Library to find web pages on world literature Find and evaluate a website on Beowulf. Oral reports


Week 7


Finish Beowulf and talk about poetic translations


Week 8


The Canterbury Tales‑read the Prologue, the Wife of Bath's Tale, the Nun's Priest's Tale, and if you must, the Miller's Tale


Week 9


Chaucer‑how people lived in 1400; the language and themes of Chaucer


Week 10




Week 11


The Prince‑politics and power in Renaissance Italy


Week 12




Week 13


some Renaissance poetry (handouts)




Last day to withdraw


Week 14


Documented paper or project due


Week 15


oral reports; review for final exam




Final Examination