Sunteți pe pagina 1din 10

for Teachers for Schools for Companies


Sign Up






SAT Literature: Help and Review / English Courses

Next Lesson

What is English Literature? -

History & Definition
Chapter 14 / Lesson 18 Transcript




Watch short & fun videos Start Your Free Trial Today



Add to
Create an account to start this course today
Try it free for 5 days!
Create An Account

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Related Lessons

Related Courses

Introduction to English Literature Course

Old English: Definition & Examples

Middle English: Definition & Literature

Jane Austen: Biography and Major Novels

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Ann Casano

Ann has taught university level Film classes and has a Master's Degree in Cinema Studies.

English literature is hundreds of years old and continues to be one of the most popular courses of
study in high schools and universities around the world. Learn about what defines English
literature and a few of its greatest writers.

What Is English Literature?

English literature is the study of literature written in the English language. The writers do not
necessarily have to be from England but can be from all over the world. It includes some of
history's most famous writers: James Joyce (Ireland), William Shakespeare (England), Mark
Twain (United States), Arthur Conan Doyle (Scotland), Dylan Thomas (Wales), and Vladimir
Nabokov (Russia), just to name a few.

English literature dates back more than five centuries. It represents writers not only from different
parts of the world and time periods, but it covers every major genre and style of writing as well.

Why Is Studying English Literature Important?

Okay, so there are about a thousand things for a teenager, or even a 50-year-old adult, to do in
today's wired, 500-channel cable television world. We can watch feature films on our phones or
hop in a car and drive a hundred miles away in just a couple of hours. That's not how things used
to be. People used to read literature for entertainment because even just 50 years ago, there
were simply not many readily available entertainment options.

Despite these other entertainment options, English literature remains popular. It is time-tested
and well worn for a reason. English literature deals with universal themes and values that help us
grow in our everyday lives. It also teaches us about different time periods and faraway places.

History of English Literature

It's difficult to discuss such a broad range of work in just a short lesson, so let's take a look at the
first three major periods of English literature.

Middle English Literature (1150-1485)

Some scholars would argue that the Middle English period started as early as the 1100s.
However, because the English language did not evolve into a dialect we could understand today
until about the 12th century, 1150 seems like a better place to start.

By far, the most popular and influential writer during this period was Geoffrey Chaucer. He was
considered the first great English poet. His works encompassed a variety of tones, styles, and
genres. One of his most renowned works, The Canterbury Tales, is an epic story of pilgrims
playfully pitted against each other in a storytelling contest. Each pilgrim's tale takes on a narrative
of its own. The poem is structured as a frame narrative, or 'story within a story:' a literary device
that would go on to become one of the most popular storytelling techniques in the history of

In the middle part of 12th century, there was a revival in alliterative poetry, or poetry that uses
alliteration as its key literary device. Perhaps the most popular example was Pearl, Purity and
Patience, a grouping of poems written by an unknown poet. A fourth work found in the same
manuscript and presumed to be of the same author, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, is one
of the finest Arthurian romances from this time period. Towards the end of the 14th century, a
philosopher named John Wycliffe translated the first complete vernacular (common people's
dialect) English version of the Bible.

Other popular poets from this period include William Langland, Sir Thomas Malory, and John

16th Century Renaissance (1485-1603)

First off, the word 'renaissance' means revival or rebirth. The Renaissance period marks the true
start of a major artistic movement throughout Europe. We can attribute this rebirth in part to the
invention of the printing press, which took the written word to a new mass-produced territory. The
written word became king of the English-speaking world during this era.

Without a doubt, the most famous writer from this time period, if not the most famous writer ever,
was William Shakespeare. Shakespeare was both a poet and a playwright who penned over 30
plays and 150 sonnets, many of which we have read in books, seen on stage, and watched in
movie theaters. Of course, these include classics including Romeo and Juliet, King Lear,
and Hamlet. If you're wondering what defines a great artist, just think about the test of time:
Shakespeare died in 1616, and we're still adapting his stage plays and reading his words almost
400 years later.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member. Create your account

Register for a free trial

Are you a student or a teacher?
I am a student I am a teacher
You are viewing lesson 18 in chapter 14 of the course:

SAT Literature: Help and Review

14 chapters | 201 lessons
Ch 1. Reading and Understanding Essays in...
Ch 2. Interpreting Theme & Meaning in...
Ch 3. Figurative Language in Literature:...
Ch 4. Language and Sentence Structure: Help...
Ch 5. Writing Structure & Organization in...
Ch 6. Literary Genres: Help and...
Ch 7. Poetry Terms & Types: Help and...
Ch 8. Drama: Help and Review
Ch 9. Literary Periods in American History:...
Ch 10. Analyzing American Literature: Help...
Ch 11. Prominent Plays & Playwrights: Help...
Ch 12. American Novelists: Help and...
Ch 13. Periods in English Literature: Help...
Ch 14. Authors & Works from English Literature:...

Beowulf: Story, Characters, and Old English13:51

Introduction to Chaucer: Middle English and the Canterbury Tales14:53

Introduction to Shakespeare: Life and Works16:45

Shakespeare's Sonnets: Reading and Interpreting the Major Poems14:38

Introduction to John Milton: Life and Major Poems12:08

Introduction to Alexander Pope: Biography, Essays and Poems12:53

Emily and Charlotte Bronte: Sisters and Authors6:29

Jane Eyre: Summary, Characters and Analysis8:01

Jane Austen: Biography and Major Novels12:02

Pride and Prejudice: Plot and Character Analysis9:45

Lord Byron: Poems and Biography12:32

John Keats: Poems, Biography and Quotes9:24

Introduction to Charles Dickens: Works, Style, and Influence12:48

Introduction to George Bernard Shaw: Life and Major Plays12:41

Introduction to T.S. Eliot: Author Background, Works, and Style7:28

John Stuart Mill: Utilitarianism, Quotes and Theory9:40

Dryden's Mac Flecknoe: Summary & Analysis6:12

What is English Literature? - History & Definition6:44


Next Lesson

James Joyce's The Dead: Summary & Analysis

The Secret Agent by Joseph Conrad: Summary & Analysis6:50

Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollope: Summary & Characters

The Changeling by Thomas Middleton: Summary & Characters

The Massacre at Paris by Marlowe: Summary & Concept

William Boyd: Biography & Books

William Godwin's Adventures of Caleb Williams: Plot Summary & Explanation

Go toAuthors & Works from English Literature: Help and Review

What is English Literature? - History & Definition Related

Study Materials

Recently Updated


Browse by Courses
English Courses

Literature Courses

Standardized Tests Courses

Test Prep Courses

Teacher Resources Courses

MTTC History: Practice & Study Guide

CEOE Marketing Education: Practice & Study Guide

NMTA Essential Academic Skills Subtest Writing: Practice & Study Guide

Ohio Assessments for Educators - Mathematics: Practice & Study Guide

TExMaT Master Reading Teacher: Practice & Study Guide

TASC Science: Prep and Practice

NMTA Mathematics: Practice & Study Guide

SAT Prep: Help and Review

Remedial 9th Grade English

9th Grade English Textbook

GMAT Prep: Help and Review

SAT Prep: Tutoring Solution

11th Grade English: Homeschool Curriculum

Browse by Lessons
The Superposition Principle & Standing Waves

Standard Model of Particle Physics

Solving Systems of Nonlinear Equations in Two Variables

What is the Compass Test?

The Compass Test Structure

Quiz & Worksheet - Pathogens, Viruses, Antibiotics & Vaccines

Quiz & Worksheet - Anatomy & Physiology of Pregnancy

Quiz & Worksheet - Innate & Learned Behavior

Quiz & Worksheet - Human Environmental Impact & Ecological Conservation

Quiz & Worksheet - Overview of the Female Reproductive System

Writing Informative Texts

HiSET: Early American History (28,000 BCE-1821 CE)

HiSET: Early American Colonies (1497-1732)

HiSET: The Road to Revolution (1700-1774)

HiSET: The American Revolution (1775-1783)

Create an account to start this course today

Try it free for 5 days!

Create An Account

Explore our library of over 35,000 lessons


Browse by subject
HomeBlogAbout UsPressCareersTeach for UsFAQContact Support
Terms of UsePrivacy Policy
copyright 2003-2017 All other trademarks and copyrights are the property of their respective owners.
All rights reserved.