History of Literature in English

ENGL 200/6.0

Typewriter and crumpled up papers


This core survey course introduces students to the history of literature in the English language, from early writings from the Anglo-Saxon period in the British Isles to contemporary works from around the English-speaking world. Organized around works representative of major periods, movements, and places in literary history (e.g., medieval, Victorian, American, post-colonial), and supplemented by historical information and documents, the course traces developments in the definition of English as a literary language, the status and role of the writer in society, and the ways in which literary texts are produced and circulate, as each relates and contributes to the understanding of individual texts. 

Learning Outcomes

After completing English 200, The History of Literature in English, the student will be able to:

  • identify and describe key authors and texts in the history of literature in English from the Middle Ages to the present, and identify major genres and literary techniques that have influenced the development of literature in English;
  • recognize the characteristics of the major periods of English literature and of the literary movements associated with each period;
  • analyze the role of social and historical contexts in the production, reception and transmission of literature in English;
  • explain the historical development of the English language from its origins in Britain to its contemporary role as a global language;
  • demonstrate a capacity for sustained and logical argument that builds on textual evidence and manifests itself in a variety of written forms;
  • apply critical thinking skills to a variety of written forms including peers’ responses to reflect and evaluate information.


Fall/Winter 2023/2024
Course Dates
Exam Dates (if applicable)
Delivery Mode


20% - Fall Essay #1
10% - Fall Close Reading Assignment
10% - Fall/Winter Period Intro and Term Quizzes (5 x 2%)
10% - Fall/Winter Discussion Forums (2 x 5%)
20% - Winter Research Essay #2
30% - Final Proctored Exam

**Evaluation Subject to Change**


  1. You may choose to write your exam(s) online using Examity proctoring services where you will be charged the additional $100 exam fee; or
  2. You may choose to write your exam(s) in-person on Queen's campus in Kingston where you will NOT be charged the additional $100 exam fee.


Once the exam schedule has been finalized the exam date will be posted on your SOLUS account. The exam dates for each Term are listed on the Faculty of Arts and Science webpage under "Important Dates." Student exam schedules for the Fall Term are posted via SOLUS immediately prior to the Thanksgiving holiday; for the Winter Term they are posted on the Friday before Reading Week, and for the Summer Term they are individually noted on the Arts and Science Online syllabi. Students should delay finalizing any travel plans until after the examination schedule has been posted. Exams will not be moved or deferred to accommodate employment, travel/holiday plans or flight reservations.

Textbook and Materials

ASO reserves the right to make changes to the required material list as received by the instructor before the course starts. Please refer to the Campus Bookstore website at http://www.campusbookstore.com/Textbooks/Search-Engine to obtain the most up-to-date list of required materials for this course before purchasing them.

Required Textbooks

  • Abrams, M.H., and Geoffrey Galt Harpham, eds. A Glossary of Literary Terms. 11th ed. CT: Cengage, 2015.
  • Austen, Jane. Northanger Abbey. 1818. 2nd. ed. Ed. Claire Grogan. Peterborough: Broadview Press, 2002.
  • Greenblatt, Stephen, et al, eds. The Norton Anthology of English Literature, Vol 1, 10th ed, (A/B/C). NY: W.W. Norton & Company, 2012.
  • Greenblatt, Stephen, et al, eds. The Norton Anthology of English Literature, Vol 2, 10th ed, (D/E/F). NY: W.W. Norton & Company, 2012.

Time Commitment

To complete the readings, assignments, and course activities, students can expect to spend on average, about 18 - 20 hours per week (240 hours per term) on the course.