British Literature

Mr. J. D. Wilson, Jr.

British Literature 12th Grade

Room 205, (508) 291-3510, ext. 205

e-mail: jwilson@wareham.k12.ma.us

"To them that demand what fruits the poets of our time bring forth or wherein they are able to prove themselves necessary to the state, thus I answer. First and foremost, they have cleansed our language from barbarism and made the vulgar sort here in London, which is the fountain whose rivers flow round about England, to aspire to richer purity of speech than is communicated with the community of any nation under heaven. The virtuous by their praises they encourage to be more virtuous, to vicious men they are as infernal hags, to haunt their ghosts with eternal infamy after death. The soldiers, in hope to have his high deeds celebrated by their pens, despiseth a whole army of perils, and acteth wonders exceeding all human conjecture. Those that care neither for God nor the devil by quills are kept in awe. Multi famam, saith one, pauci conscientiam verentur . (Many respect what others say, few respect what their conscience tells them.)" Thomas Nashe, Pierce Penniless

The Nature of the Course

Stuff We Will Read

Stuff We Will Write

Web Sites to Check Out

Calendar of Events

Keep Quiet and do your work!

The Nature of the Course:

In this course you will learn how to analyze literature in its three primary forms, poetry, prose, and drama. You will then learn to express your thoughts and opinions on what you have read. Much of your professional lives will be spent responding to written or verbal forms of communication so it follows that the ability to read, understand, and communicate your understanding is a valuable skill to possess and develop, even if, God help you, you never read another line of great literature. It is our aim to teach you to express your thoughts, impressions, and opinions so that they can be understood by the average reader. You will be expected to write cogent essays that are well developed and defended that successfully persuade others of the validity of your thoughts. This does not mean you have to persuade others to think like you. It does mean that others even if they do not come to share your view understand the merits of your view. As you study literature the awareness should strike you that there are many "right" answers to the issues discussed. What is important is not that you reach some sanctioned conclusion, but that your conclusions are defensible. It is a further aim that you learn to understand and write about different points of view. To fully understand your own point of view you must know, and to a certain extent understand, opposing points of view.

This is the first goal of this class, and the second is like unto it: to develop critical thinking skills. The first step in this process is to understand our own thinking. "What do I think about this and why do I think it?" are questions we must constantly ask ourselves. It is a presumption of this class that writers write to, among other things, express ideas and communicate points of view. Hopefully the process of analyzing ideas and different points of view will expand, or even change, our thinking on the issues the various authors raise. To understand the ideas a work of literature expresses it is helpful to understand and appreciate the forms they use. For example, why did the author write a sonnet instead of an ode? It is also important to be able to assess a works artistic merit. It is important to remember that it is possible to recognize the artistry with which a poem or story is written without personally "liking" it. It is also important to recognize how authors use the various literary devices to tell their stories. As a result of pursuing these two sets of goals you should come to understand literature, its artistry and craft.

Stuff We Will Read:


September 3 - September 10 Introductory material, "The Seafarer", "The Battle of Brunanburh", "The Battle of Malden", excerpt from The Iliad and excerpt from The Ramayana.

September 11 - September 18 Beowulf.

September 19 - October 4 Chaucer: excerpts from The Canterbury Tales, "Federico's Falcon," from A History of the English People, and from The Paston Letters.

October 7 - October 29 Arthurian Legend: from Le Morte d'Arthur.

October 30 - November 19 Macbeth and excerpts from Paradise Lost.

November 20 - November 27 Introduction to the Enlightenment and the Essays of Pope.

December 2 - January 14 Gulliver's Travels.

January 21 - January 24 First Semester Finals.

January 15 - Janary 27 Romanticism ("Elegy in a Country Church-yard," "Tintern Abbey," and The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner.

January 29 - February 14 Frankenstein.

February 24 - March 24 Great Expectations.

March 25 - May 5 Wuthering Heights

May 6 - May 13 The Importance of Being Earnest and "Jeeves Takes Charge"

May 14 - May 21 - "The Dead," "The Demon Lover," and "The Rocking Horse Winner"

May 13 - Internet Project (Honors Only)

May 22 - May 30 - Second Semester Finals


June 6 - Graduation

Stuff We Will Write:

Preliminary Research Paper


Must be at least three pages in length with at least two bibliographic citations.


Outline, thesis statement, and bibliography due by September 18.


First draft due for peer review October 11.


Final draft due October 24.


Rewrite due October 31.


Literary Analysis Paper


Must be at least four pages in length with at least one bibliographic citation.


Outline, thesis statement, and bibliography due November 19.


First draft due for peer review January 6.


Final draft due January 14.


Rewrite due January 21.



Internet Project (Honors Only)


Part One due January 21



Jane Austen and Mary Shelley Newspaper


Cover and Weather Report due January 6.


Sports Page and Want Ads due January 14.


Letter to the Editor due January 21.


Gossip and Will Wonders Never Cease due February 3.


Editorial and Help Wanted due February 11.


Book Review due February 26.


Austen and Shelley "Women of the Year" Article and Time Line due March 6.


News Articles due March 14.


Table of Contents and Bibliography due March 24.


Finished Newspaper due April 1, but no later than April 4.


Creative Writing Assignment


Must be at least four pages in length.


Plot Summary due April 9.


First draft due for peer review May 2.


Final draft due May 13.


Rewrite due May 21.


Internet Project (Honors Only)


Completed project due May 22.

Presentations of projects to the class begin May 14.


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Calendar of Events

Readings for the Week:

Day One 05-14: - "The Dead," pp. 1-15.


Day Two 05-16: - "The Dead," pp. 16-30.


Day Three 05-19: - "The Dead," pp. 31-45.


Day Four 05-20: - No reading, prepare for final.


Nightly Reading Journal s - 05-22

Reading Quiz - 05-22 ("The Dead", this is an optional quiz that may done at home and used in place of a missing quiz or to improve a quiz grade with which you are dissatisfied.)

Final Exam s - 05-23 thru 05-30 (See the final exam schedule for the precise date of your exam.)

Vocabulary Journal - 05-22.

Vocabulary Quiz - 05-22.

Short Story Project Phase III - Final Draft of short story was due: 05-13, 5-16 at the latest; Rewrite due 05-21.


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