English Poetry Through the Ages: Part 1 (ages 13-18)

Spring, 2020:

Begins May 12th

4 Weeks

Available Times (EST):
Tuesdays, 2:30PM 

Price: $100US

Course Description

This course aims to engage students in a critical approach to literature, developing an appreciation of the writer’s craft through the use of rhythm, rhyme, structure and linguistic devices. We will also consider broader contextual issues, exploring the interplay between the individual text and the writer’s worldview, historical time period and geographical location.  

We will venture into the exciting world of times gone by, commencing with an introduction to Beowulf, the most famous example of Anglo-Saxon poetry. We will explore this epic poem which was part of the oral tradition of  a pre-Christian, tribal, warrior society and which could be seen as England’s answer to Homer’s Odyssey and Virgil’s Aeneid.  We will consider the contextual issues of the “heroic code,” views on kingship and bravery. We might even try reciting a bit of Old English! We will then move on to the Christian period of the Late Middle Ages and examine the “Prologue to the famous Canterbury Tales, exploring the roles of church and state and the strictly hierarchical class system as well as Chaucer’s famous use of satire to mock the corruption and self-importance  of various pompous individuals. We will finally dwell upon the English Renaissance period during the reign of Elizabeth I and learn to appreciate the blossoming of talent and writing as the English language really came into its own. We will consider the importance and impact of poets such as Edmund Spencer, Christopher Marlowe, William Shakespeare and Ben Johnson, touching upon themes of the monarchy, beauty, love and parenthood.


We will be exploring a selection of poetry from the following list:  
Anglo-Saxon (circa 8th-11th Centuries) – Beowulf
Middle English (14th Century) – Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales
Elizabethan Period (Edmund Spencer, Christopher Marlowe, William Shakespeare, Ben Jonson)

Learning Objectives

1 To read, understand and respond to texts. Students should be able to maintain a critical style and develop an informed personal response. They should also be able to use textual references, including quotations, to support and illustrate interpretations.

2 To analyze the language, form and structure used by a writer to create meanings and effects, using relevant subject terminology where appropriate.

3 To show understanding of the relationships between texts and the contexts in which they were written. 


Assessments: Quizzes and one final analytical essay of 500 words. 
Grading: Pass / Merit / Distinction