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British Literature Week 1 Notes

by: Hannah Fretheim

British Literature Week 1 Notes ENG 2301

Marketplace > Baylor University > ENG 2301 > British Literature Week 1 Notes
Hannah Fretheim
Baylor University
GPA 3.8
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About this Document

Notes over both readings and class discussion. Covers the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.
British Literature
Rachel Lee Webster
Class Notes




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This 3 page Class Notes was uploaded by Hannah Fretheim on Friday August 26, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to ENG 2301 at Baylor University taught by Rachel Lee Webster in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 38 views.

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Date Created: 08/26/16
8/24/16- 8/26/16: Class Notes and “Norton Anthology” (p. 3-28, 349-81) The Middle Ages th  The Romans occupied England until the 5 century. When Rome pulled out the island was taken over by Germanic tribes, particularly the Angles, the Saxons and the Jutes.  In the 160s, St. Augustine and other missionaries led to the spread of Christianity among the Anglo- Saxons. The monasteries became the main source of written literature.  English literature in the Middle Ages can be divided into three major time periods: “Anglo-Saxon th th Literature,” “Anglo-Norman Literature” and “Middle English Literature of the 14 and 15 Centuries.” Anglo-Saxon literature: o Because most writing of manuscripts was done in monasteries, most written literature from this time is religious in nature. o “Ecclesiastical History of the English People” was written by Bede and gives us a lot of what we know about this time period. o Old English poetry was usually passed down orally. This poetry often reflected the heroic code of old Germanic culture. o “Beowulf” is a famous work from this time. The cultural importance of royal generosity is demonstrated in Beowulf. o Anglo-Saxon poems used kennings which were compounds of two words used to represent another word.  i.e. “cup-bearer”- wife, “ring-giver”- king, “life-house”- body, “battle-play”- war “The Dream of the Rood”  Uses both alliteration and kennings  The story could be divided into three sections: o The dreamer sees and describes a beautiful tree which was the tree that Christ died on. o The tree speaks and tells its story of being cut down and Christ climbing onto him to die. o The dreamer reflects on what the tree has said and is given hope despite being surrounded by sorrow.  Christ is described as strong and brave but also voluntarily sacrifices himself for others. Christ fits the description of an epic hero from the Anglo-Saxon poems of the day.  Imagery is used to describe the tree as beautifully decorated and full of light. The tree is also bleeding on the right side to parallel the wound that Christ received on his right side during the crucifixion. (Christ and the cross become one)  The narrator is living surrounded by death (he is described as having lost most of his friends), but he is comforted and given hope through the idea of eternal life. This appealed to the people of the time period in which death was common. Anglo-Norman Literature:  In 1066 the Normans came from France, influencing both the culture and the language of England.  French, Anglo, Latin and Celtic were all spoken. English began to borrow pieces of language from French.  Storytelling based on Celtic legends and Romances became popular during this time.  Famous poets included Marie de France, Thomas of England and Cretien de Troyes. th th Middle English Literature in the 14 and 15 Centuries: th  The 14 century was a time of lots of death, particularly because of the black plague.  Important writers from this time include Dante, Chaucer, John Gower, John Lydgate and Julian of Norwich as well as the unknown author of “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.”  “Mystery Plays” were plays based on stories from the Bible and put on by town guilds. “The York Play of the Crucifixion”  A Mystery Play about the crucifixion featuring Jesus and four Roman soldiers.  The soldiers run into problems when trying to get Jesus onto the cross. First they are forced to stretch Jesus and then must use wedges because the holes are too big.  Jesus speaks twice. The first time he speaks about saving mankind and the soldiers go on mocking him. The second time, Jesus talks about salvation for all people and asks for the soldiers to be forgiven.  There is a contrast between the mocking words of the soldiers and the words of Christ. The Renaissance  Usually considered to be from 1485-1603, in line with the Tudor dynasty.  Books became more popular and much more writing was done in English.  Most of the power and culture of the time centered around the Court which included the place where the Monarch was and those attending. Most literature therefore came from the rich and powerful.  King Henry the VIII separated from Catholicism and started the Church of England in order to divorce his wife. This led to monasteries closing and the loss of some of the literature from this time.  The next monarch after him, Mary, tried to bring the country back to Catholicism. Elizabeth I then brought Protestantism back.  The long and culturally significant reign of Elizabeth I saw the rise of Elizabethan Theater. “The Passionate Shepard to His Love” By Christopher Marlowe  Could be considered a “pastoral” work because of the way it idolizes life in the country.  The narrator is a man who longs for a woman to come and be his lover in the country. He has a very idealistic rather than realistic attitude as he tells her that living in the country will entail a life of happiness with little work where he will make her gifts and everyone will “marvel at their love.” “The Nymph’s Reply to the Shepherd” by Sir Walter Raleigh  The Nymph points out how unrealistic the shepherd from the previous poem is and tells him she cannot accept his offer.  The Shepard is probably just using extravagant language in order to hook up with the girl.  Raleigh is likely poking fun at the fancy language used to woo lovers.


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