ENGL 202 A: Introduction to the Study of English Language and Literature

Meeting Time: 
MWF 10:30am - 11:20am
MGH 389
Tom Foster
Tom Foster

Syllabus Description:

Schedule of readings:

Assigned readings should be completed before the scheduled date.  Most assigned readings not included in the four books ordered for the class are available as pdf files on the “Files” page of the Canvas site for the class (see the left margin of the Canvas front page for the “Files” link).  Alternately, some short works, especially poems, are available online, at the links in the schedule of readings below.  Suggested readings are not required but are instead provided as extra reading on topics that will be touched on in lecture; I will usually refer to those readings in class, but I will not assume that students have read the suggested works, and you will not be tested on them. 


Part 1. What is “Literature?”: National Vernaculars, the Printed Book, and Modern Culture

Week 1.

September 29: Introduction


October 1: How to read Imagined Communities (no assigned reading)


Week 2.

October 4: Read: Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities, chapter 1 (pdf)


October 6: Read: Anderson, Imagined Communities, chapter 2 (pdf)


October 8: Read: Anderson, Imagined Communities, chapter 3 (pdf)


Week 3.

October 11: Read: Michael Warner, excerpt from Letters of the Republic (pages 122-138; pdf)


October 13: Read: Geoffrey Chaucer, “Prologue,” lines 1-42 and “Miller’s Tale” (lines 79-746), from The Canterbury Tales, available online at


(select “side-by-side translation” for Middle English original and modern translation)   


October 15: Read: Mary Shelley, Frankenstein (to the end of chapter 5 of volume 1; through page 64)


Week 4.

October 18: Read: Shelley, Frankenstein (to the end of chapter 4 of volume 2; through page 118)


October 20: Read: Shelley, Frankenstein (to the end of chapter 3 of volume 3; through page 178)

Suggested: Roger Chartier, “The Practical Impact of Writing” (pdf)


October 22: Read: Shelley, Frankenstein (finish the novel; to the end of volume 3, chapter 7; page 225)


Week 5.

October 25: No class; midterms due, Monday, 10/25


Part 2. What is “Literary Study?”: Theories of Language, Meaning, Reading, and Writing

October 27: Read: M.H. Abrams, “Introduction: Orientation of Critical Theories,” from The Mirror and the Lamp (pdf)

                     Read: Alexander Pope, “An Essay on Criticism,” part II, lines 289-304 only, available online at https://rpo.library.utoronto.ca/poems/essay-criticism-part-2

                    Read: William Wordsworth, “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud,” available online at https://rpo.library.utoronto.ca/poems/i-wandered-lonely-cloud


October 29: Read: Catherine Belsey, Critical Practice, chapter 1, “Traditional Criticism and Common Sense”


Week 6:

November 1: Read: Belsey, Critical Practice, “New Criticism” (pages 14-19)

                       Read: John Keats, “Ode on a Grecian Urn,” available online at



November 3: Read: Belsey, Critical Practice, “Reader Power” (pages 27-34)

                       Read: William Carlos Williams, “The Red Wheelbarrow,” available online at https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/45502/the-red-wheelbarrow

                       Read: Langston Hughes, “Theme for English B,” available online

        at http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/theme-for-english-b/


November 5: Read: Belsey, Critical Practice, “Post-Saussurean Linguistics” (pages 35-43) and “The Plurality of Meaning” (pages 48-51)

                         Read: Langston Hughes, "My People," available online at



Week 7.

November 8: Read: Ted Chiang, “Story of Your Life” (pdf)

Suggested: Darko Suvin, chapter 1 of Metamorphoses of Science Fiction (pdf)

Suggested: Belsey, Critical Practice, “The Subject and the Text (pages 62-77)


November 10: Read: Belsey, Critical Practice, “Ideology,” “The Subject,” “Psychoanalysis,” “Resistance” (pages 52-59, in all) and “Sherlock Holmes” (pages 101-108)

                         Read: Arthur Conan Doyle, “The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton (pdf)


Part 3. Writable Texts and the Cultural Politics of Reading

November 12: Read: Belsey, Critical Practice, “Unfixing the Subject” (pages 83-85 only) and “Barthes and Macheray” (pages 95-101)

                           Read: Harvey Kurtzman and Jack Davis, “Murder the Husband, Murder the Story” (pdf)


Week 8:

November 15: Read: William Faulkner, As I Lay Dying (through page 38, Dewey Dell’s monologue)


November 17: Read: Faulkner, As I Lay Dying (through page 73, Tull’s monologue)


November 19: Read: Faulkner, As I Lay Dying (through page 114, Vardaman’s monologue)


Week 9.

November 22: Read: Faulkner, As I Lay Dying (finish the novel, through page 149)


November 24: No class; Thanksgiving holiday

November 26: No class; Thanksgiving holiday


Week 10.

November 29: Read: Nisi Shawl, Everfair (through page 64, to the end of “Fifty Kilometers Out of Matadi, Congo, July 1894”)

Suggested: Paul Gilroy, “The Black Atlantic as a Counterculture of Modernity,” pages 1-19, 29-40 (pdf)


December 1: Read: Shawl, Everfair (through page 136, to the end of “Kinshasa, Congo, October 1897”)


December 3: Read: Shawl, Everfair (through page 198, the end of Part One)


Week 11.

December 6: Read: Shawl, Everfair (through page 265, to the end of “Usumbura, Urundi to Mwanza, East German Africa, January 1915”)

Suggested: Henry Jenkins, “How Texts Become Real” (pdf)


December 8: Read: Shawl, Everfair (through page 325, to the end of “Kisangani to Kalemie, Everfair, February 1918”)


December 10: Read: Shawl, Everfair (finish the novel)


Final exams due, Monday, December 13


Catalog Description: 
Gateway course designed for English pre-majors and majors. Introduces critical, historical, and theoretical frameworks important to studying the literature, language, and cultures of English. Cannot be taken for credit if student has taken ENGL 301.
GE Requirements: 
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Last updated: 
August 19, 2021 - 12:21pm