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ELA 12: British Literature—Semester A

Paradise Shmooped.

Put down your E. L. James and pick up some real British bestsellers. British literature may have a reputation for being stuffy and long-winded, but we're focusing on the good bits: the raunchy, the romantic, the revolutionary, and the revelatory. Don't let the big names and the big books scare you off. Guys and gals like Chaucer, Milton, Pope, Austen, and Brontë have a lot to say, and let's be honest: if you're writing world-rocking literature, you're going to need more than 140 characters.

Our Common Core-aligned Semester A will introduce you to some of the major names and major ideas in British literature—and some of the minor ones, too. Through various readings and activities, we’ll

  • think about questions of national identity, domestic life, and individual agency.
  • ponder the role of women (and men) in shaping Britain and consider the way that a changing class structure brought new voices into print.
  • ask ourselves, why does Keira Knightley end up in so many costume dramas? (It's relevant, we promise.)

By the end of this course, you’ll know more about English literature than the queen herself.

Okay, maybe not more than the queen. But definitely more than Prince Harry.

P.S. British Literature (ELA 12) is a two-semester course. You're looking at Semester A, but you can check out Semester B here.

Course Breakdown

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Unit 1. Medieval Times

We'll get our feet wet in Brit Lit with selections for The Canterbury Tales and Le Morte d'Arthur, while thinking about the historical and social context surrounding Chaucer and Malory.

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Unit 2. It's Too Early to Be Modern

After dipping into the Bible, we'll see how important the Holy Book was to early modern English authors like John Milton (Paradise Lost) and John Donne. We'll also chat with Robert Herrick, Samuel Pepys, James Boswell, and lots of metaphysical folks.

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Unit 3. The Satiric Century

"The Rape of the Lock" and A Modest Proposal will kick off our unit on the 18th century, which will also include authors like Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, Robert Burns, and Thomas Gray.

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Unit 4. Celebrity Secrets

This unit covers the birth and flowering of Romanticism, including Dead White Guys like William Blake, William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and John Keats. Of course, we'll hang out with the ladies, too, digging into some of their poetry and learning everything there is to know about Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.

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Unit 5. Pride and Prejudice

Are you really surprised to hear that Pride and Prejudice gets its own unit in a course on Brit Lit? Yeah, we didn't think so.

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Unit 6. Jane Slayre

Jane Eyre is a unit all its own, and boy do we love it. Courtship + Gothic = Yes, Please.

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Unit 7. The Other Victorians

Victorian poetry takes the cake in this unit, with authors like Robert Browning, Lord Tennyson, and Christina Rossetti.


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  • Course Length: 18 weeks
  • Course Number: 410
  • Grade Levels: 11, 12
  • Course Type: Basic
  • Category:
    • College Prep
    • English
    • Literature

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