1 x 2-hour seminar weekly
9 units of first-year topics
Assignment(s), Exercises, Quiz
Topic description

The topic will give students a firm grasp of the story of English literature, providing a crucial background for the study of literature in English and for students' wider cultural literacy. This story will be told through some of the most famous poems in the English language, which will be read alongside historical and cultural contexts from the major periods of literary history. Evolutions in poetic subject, form and style over the centuries will be mapped alongside major historical and cultural developments, allowing students an opportunity to develop an understanding of the connections between the two. As a central topic in the English major, it will thereby focus on two core elements of literary interpretation: close reading and the ability to historicise texts.

Educational aims

This topic aims to:

  • Provide an account of the major periods of English Literature
  • Impart students with the principal skills and techniques of reading poetry
  • Demonstrate the connections between examples of canonical poetry and their historical and cultural contexts
Expected learning outcomes
On completion of this topic you will be expected to be able to:

  1. Compare the major characteristics of literary periods as they impinge on canonical English poetry
  2. Apply the principal skills and techniques of reading poetry to produce interpretations
  3. Examine the relation between examples of canonical poetry and appropriate historical/cultural contexts

Key dates and timetable

(1), (2)

Each class is numbered in brackets.
Where more than one class is offered, students normally attend only one.

Classes are held weekly unless otherwise indicated.


If you are enrolled for this topic, but all classes for one of the activities (eg tutorials) are full,
contact your College Office for assistance. Full classes frequently occur near the start of semester.

Students may still enrol in topics with full classes as more places will be made available as needed.

If this padlock appears next to an activity name (eg Lecture), then class registration is closed for this activity.

Class registration normally closes at the end of week 2 of each semester.

Classes in a stream are grouped so that the same students attend all classes in that stream.
Registration in the stream will result in registration in all classes.
  Unless otherwise advised, classes are not held during semester breaks or on public holidays.