Lesson 1: The Beginnings of English

In the first lesson we look at the evolution of the English language, and the work of the first great English poet, Geoffrey Chaucer. Main reading: From Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales: 'The Prologue', 'The Pardoner's Tale', 'The Nun's Priest's Tale'.


Lesson 2: The Renaissance (1)

The second lesson introduces the cultural revolution known as the Renaissance, then takes us to Elizabethan England to study the growth of English drama, pre-Shakespearean drama, then Shakespeare himself. Main reading: Shakespeare,The Merchant of Venice, Henry IV parts I and I


Lesson 3: The Renaissance (2)

In this lesson we study Shakespeare in more detail and see why his work stood out from that of his contemporaries. We then look at some of the poetry of the period. Main reading: Shakespeare: Twelfth Night, Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet. A selection of Elizabethan and Jacobean poetry


Lesson 4: The Age of Reason

This lesson takes us into the England of the late 17th, and 18th Century, the England of Samuel Pepys, Alexander Pope, and Boswell and Johnson. Main reading: James Boswell, The Life of Johnson. Jonathan Swift, Gulliver's Travels. Alexander Pope, selected poems.


Lesson 5: The Novel

In this lesson we trace the origin and development of the English novel. Main reading: Selections from: Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe. Richardson, Clarissa Harlowe. Sterne, Tristram Shandy. Smollet, Humphrey Clinker. Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility. Thackeray, Vanity Fair. Dickens, Martin Chuzzlewit, David Copperfield.


Lesson 6: The Romantic Movement

The sixth lesson shows how the Romantic Movement emerged as a rebellion against 'The Age of Reason', which we covered in Lesson 4, and produced some of the most beautiful and memorable poetry in the language. Main reading: Selected poems of: Wordsworth. Coleridge. Shelley. Keats.


Lesson 7: The Theatre

Lesson 7 picks up the story of English drama from where we left it in Lesson 3, taking us through Restoration drama and up to Oscar Wilde. Main reading: Extracts from Congreve, The Way of the World. Goldsmith, She Stoops to Conquer. Sheridan, The Rivals and The School for Scandal. Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest.


Lesson 8: The Victorians

In Lesson 8 we pick up the story of the development of the novel from where we left it in Lesson 5. We then look at the work of the essayists Carlyle and Ruskin, the major Victorian poets, Tennyson and Browning, and the Pre-Raphaelite movement. Main reading: Selected poems of Tennyson and Browning. Selections from the novels of: George Eliot, George Meredith, Charlotte Bronte, Emily Bronte, Thomas Hardy


Lesson 9: The Twentieth Century

The final lesson brings us into the 20th Century, looking at writers such as T S Eliot, James Joyce, Aldous Huxley, D H Lawrence, and John Osborne. There is no set reading, but some poets, novelists, and dramatists are recommended, and you may choose your own essay subject Back