London Course Syllabus


Title: Literary Landmarks and Landscapes

Credit: Undergraduate or Graduate (Requirements differ.)



My name is Joe Glaser, and I have been a professor of English at Western Kentucky University for over thirty years. I am currently on optional retirement—still teaching, but at a reduced rate of classes per semester. My academic specialty is English Renaissance literature, and I have published several articles in that area. I was also Western’s Composition Director for half my career here, and that interest led me to write a freshman English handbook with a colleague, James Flynn, in 1984, and a book on writing style, published by Oxford UP in 1999. I also recently published a translation of Chaucer (it’s on your reading list) and also a modernized edition of Malory’s Morte D’Arthur. In the past year, I’ve traveled in Italy and Greece, and I’ve begun work toward an art major at Western in printmaking.

Email me at or call 270 745 5763 (office) or 270 842 9369 (home).


Course Description and Goals


The class itself, as the CCSA brochure says, is a quick survey of 400 years of British literature, from the Canterbury Tales (c. 1400) to Pride and Prejudice (1813), with stops for Shakespeare (Midsummer Night’s Dream) and Fielding’s Joseph Andrews. We’ll be reading and discussing those texts in detail. I also want you to see them against the background of English literary history, from the late medieval to early romantic periods. To help with this part of the course, we’ll travel to Canterbury, one of the country’s best preserved medieval sites, and to Bath, which is essentially unchanged from its glory days as an eighteenth-century spa (with the added attraction of the world’s finest restored Roman baths). Our other trips will be in London: to the Museum of London; to the restored Globe Theater; to the British Library; and most probably to Keat’s House, which is not far from the Hampstead campus where we’ll be staying.

Unfortunately, one detail from the CCSA brochure must be changed. This year for the first time since I have been going to England, Midsummer Night’s Dream is not being presented at the Regent’s Park Outdoor Theater. While I still encourage everyone to see a Shakespeare play this summer, it won’t be a requirement. For class we’ll make do with video clips instead.


Policies and Requirements


I will ask everyone in the class to keep a dual-purpose journal and write at least three pages a week on his or her travels and exploration of London and its surroundings, and an additional three pages on an assigned topic related to our readings. If it seems clear that more work will be helpful, we may have additional literary writing and/or quizzes. Graduate students will have to complete an 10-12 page extended essay on an approved literary topic relevant to our class work as well. Contact me for topic suggestions or approval. There will be a three-hour essay final on Friday, August 5.

In keeping with CCSA regulations, attendance at class sessions and on field trips is mandatory. Each unexcused absence will result in a letter grade reduction for the course.

Assignments must be turned in on time or grades will be reduced on those, too.




Grades for the course will be based on the usual scale of values:

            A = Excellent, outstanding (90-100%)

            B = Very good, well above average (80-89%)

            C = Fully acceptable (70-79%)

            D = Acceptable but deficient in some areas (60-69%)

            F = Unacceptable (below 60%)

Final undergraduate grades will be based on the journals (45%, including 15% on the travel entries and 30% on the literary essays); the final (45%); and participation (10%). 

For graduate students these percentages will apply: journal 30%, final 30%, paper 30%, and participation 10%.


Reading List
(changes from one offering to the next)

All these books can be ordered from Amazon. Please get the editions mentioned here, so we can find passages and pages easily. If you read the texts ahead of time, you will have to spend far less time in your rooms getting it done over there.

Chaucer. The Canterbury Tales in Modern Verse. Trans. Joseph Glaser. Hackett Publishing Co., 2005. ISBN: 0872207544  $9.95

Shakespeare. Midsummer Night’s Dream. Ed. Russ McDonald. Pelican, 2000. ISBN 0140714553   $4.50

Henry Fielding. Joseph Andrews. Dover Thrift edition, 2001. ISBN 0486415880  $3.00

Jane Austen. Pride and Prejudice. Oxford World Classics, 2004. ISBN 0192802380.  $6.95

These books add up to just under $25. Add something else you want—maybe Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince—and Amazon will give you free shipping on your order.


Prospective Day-by-Day Activities (2005)


Some of the trips may change as conditions warrant once we’re in London, but this schedule should be substantially correct.

7/7             Depart for London

7/8             Arrive, Walking Tour

7/9            Orientation, London Bus Tour

7/11           Class, 9-12: Chaucer, General Prologue, Knight’s Tale, Miller’s Tale

                        Literary journal assignment

7/12           Field Trip: Canterbury, central town and cathedral

                        Travel journal

7/13           Class, 1-4: Chaucer: Wife of Bath, Franklin, Prioress, Nun’s Priest’s Tales

7/15           Whole day excursion to Salisbury and Stonehenge for whole program

7/18          Class, 9-12: Midsummer Night’s Dream, first half

                        Literary journal assignment

7/20        Class, 1-4: Midsummer Night’s Dream, second half

                 7/21        Field Trip: London Museum, Globe Theater; evening showing of 

                                                   Midsummer Night's Dream

Travel Journal
Hand in journals for Review

                   7/22-24  Optional Edinburgh trip

 7/25        Class, 9-12: Joseph Andrews, first half

                        Literary journal assignment

  7/26        Field Trip: Bath, walking tour, Roman Baths

                            Travel journal

  7/27        Class, 1-4: Joseph Andrews, second half

  7/29-31  Optional Paris trip

 8/1          Class, 9-12: Pride and Prejudice, first half

                        Literary journal assignment

                        Graduate research papers due

 8/3          Class, 1-4:  Pride and Prejudice,second half

 8/4          Field Trip: Keats’ house; British Library. evening showing of P&P scenes.

                        Travel journal

 8/5          Final Exam

                        Completed journals due

 8/8            Depart for U.S.



You’ll need your texts and two notebooks: one for notes and one for your journal entries. Make the journal entry book a nice one. You may want to keep it after the trip.


Estimated additional costs

All traveling we do as a class will be covered by your tube and BritRail passes. I’m not requiring any overnight stays away from London. There is a good chance that CCSA will pay for all or part of our Canterbury tours and admissions. For the rest, figure on 20 to 30 pounds (about 40-60 dollars) plus the cost of meals and snacks, which you would have to buy anyway on travel days. Sample prices:


                        Globe Theater tour               7 pounds

                        British Library                       free

                        Keats House                          1.5 pounds

                        Museum of London              3 pounds

                        Roman Baths                         8.5 pounds

                        Bath walking tour                 free


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