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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Traynor F Iii Hansen
ENGL 200
Seattle Campus

Reading Literary Forms

Covers techniques and practice in reading and enjoying literature in its various forms: poetry, drama, prose fiction, and film. Examines such features of literary meanings as imagery, characterization, narration, and patterning in sound and sense. Offered: AWSp.

Class description

English 200 is designed to offer techniques and practice in reading and enjoying literature as a source of pleasure and knowledge about human experience. Our class will focus on texts that have filled two specific roles: that of a literary text and that of work of Christian apologetics. What happens when Christian doctrine takes on the form of literary artifact? What stake do we, as readers, have in the relationship between the two? In what ways have changing historical circumstances required adjustments in the texts' Christian themes?

We will explore these questions by looking at a variety of texts and genres. The first half of the quarter will be devoted to building a critical vocabulary for talking about literature. We will read John Bunyan's classic allegory The Pilgrim's Progress and selections from Milton's Paradise Lost—a book-length poem that claimed its purpose was "to justify the ways of God to man"—and its sequel, Paradise Regained. In the second half, we will read two novels: G. K. Chesterton's anarchist mystery The Man Who was Thursday and C. S. Lewis's Perelandra, which is a science fiction retelling of Paradise Lost set on Venus. We will close the quarter with Donald Miller's bestselling turn-of-the-millennium memoir, Blue Like Jazz. Throughout, we will also consider other kinds of texts, which may include poems, films, and historically significant sermons.

CLARIFICATION: This is a class about how key Christian ideas play into English literature, not a class on Christian religion. Therefore we won't be evaluating or criticizing our readings based on their religious content, but rather on how that content works in texts. We may, however, occasionally refer to parts of the Christian scriptures as a means of providing context for our readings.

This course meets the University’s “W” requirement, which means you will produce 10-15 pages of graded, out-of-class writing, which must be significantly revised. You will satisfy this requirement by writing two 5-7 page papers, due at the middle and at the end of the quarter. Both papers will be read and commented on with revision in mind.

Course Readings: Course pack, including shorter readings and critical texts (available the first week of the quarter at Ave Copy, 4141 University Way) John Bunyan. The Pilgrim's Progress (Norton). John Milton. Paradise Lost (Oxford World's Classics). G. K. Chesterton. The Man Who Was Thursday (Penguin). C. S. Lewis. Perelandra (Scribner). Donald Miller. Blue Like Jazz. (Thomas Nelson)

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

A mix of lecture, discussion, and group work.

Recommended preparation

Be prepared to read quite a bit. The early readings—prose and poetry from the late seventeenth century—may be extra challenging for some readers.

Class assignments and grading

Quizzes, response papers, two 4-5 page essays with revision, and more.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Traynor F Iii Hansen
Date: 10/29/2010