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Course Objectives

When you have completed this course, you should be able to:

  1. Identify the significant issues artistically captured in selected literary works of major authors of the late English Renaissance.
  2. Identify the literary techniques such as figurative language, rhythm, and rhyme employed in supporting the issues in each of the literary selections.
  3. Understand how the assigned selections reflect the milieu of the late English Renaissance.
  4. Identifying issues and literary techniques emphasized in unique ways characteristic of each of the authors studied.
  5. Write with improved skill. As you analyze with care the brilliant mastery of style of these gifted authors, you have an exceptional opportunity to continue revising the multiple drafts of your own work until you have achieved at least a modest skill in imitating these masters.
  6. Receive high grades on each of the requirements of the course, advancing you toward your own personal goals.

Course Materials


Because the cost of texts has risen sharply, effort has been made to assist you in trimming expenses. While you will be given assignments in the Handbook to Literature, no specific edition is required. Because the text has been popular for decades, used copies are abundant, and your local library should have copies for you.

Irrespective of edition, the Handbook to Literature is a very helpful dictionary of terms that will serve you well in this class and beyond. Every home should have it if for nothing more than the wonderful summary of titles merged with important historical data at the rear of the book. All of the easily found terms are placed in examples drawn from famous pieces of literature. The book transcends literary terms and serves as a fine handbook giving the “historical periods” and “movements” for all the arts.

All of the assigned selections of literature were taken from the following required text:

Note that no test questions will be drawn from the introductions or notes from the text—I am only interested in your understanding of the literary pieces themselves. You are expected to study the pieces thoroughly.

You will find that some of the books in Milton’s Paradise Lost have been severely cut in the Norton text. While we are not studying the complete text of Milton’s epic, you will need access to a text that will give you more of the lines than those afforded by the Norton Press. A book borrowed from a friend or a library for a few weeks will put you in good stead.

Secondary Sources

Much emphasis is given these days to various critical approaches to literature, seeing it through the eyes of new historicists or those of feminists. While the varied theoretical approaches have value, our primary concern will appropriately remain with the primary sources: the texts as written by the artists. While you are not discouraged from reading what others have said they have found in each selection, you will likely find the greatest value in spending your limited time in discovering for yourself what the texts have to say. Again, secondary materials are widely available and are certainly of value, but they are not a course requirement.

Course Overview

The number of lessons in this course has been intentionally trimmed to permit you to give quality attention to a skeletal sampling of the best selections. Treat yourself to an intellectual feast, keeping an adequate dictionary at your side and having an encyclopedia accessible—at least at the library if not at home. Promise yourself that you will not plow through material that you don’t understand. Should difficult terms appear, determine their possible meanings and read troublesome spots repeatedly until you see how each author is painting detailed pictures to support dignified issues. Every piece assigned is not only manageable, but will offer you a mind-expanding experience that you will treasure. You’ll be deeply gratified as you discover that issues you have respected all you life are spread before you, painted in effective word-pictures that you will always remember.

Analyzing Each Section

Create a proper study atmosphere and insure that you will not be interrupted. Once you’re positioned for work, read slowly and without interruption until you have finished at least a segment of the assignment. During this first reading, underline key phrases and jot initial reactions in the margin. Immediately upon finishing the first reading, jot as many response thoughts as come to mind, pushing yourself to jot even remote possibilities.

You are now prepared for the two or three additional readings that will help you discover subtle supporting issues and help you identify the metaphors, similes, and instances of synecdoche and other techniques employed skillfully by the authors.

A final reading should permit you to give primary attention to the skill of the author in bringing the dignified issues and the skillfully painted pictures together into a unified whole. It is this fusion that identifies literature as an art form: the capturing of significant ideas in unforgettable word-pictures.

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You will submit ten written assignments for grading in this course. Fifty percent of your grade will be computed from these written assignments. Please note that if early scores are low, greater weight will be given to later submissions to give you credit for significant improvement.

Phrasing Your Responses for Submission

While only ten of the eighteen lessons in this course require submitted responses, each assignment in every lesson should be written with care. While the requirements may seem demanding, your responses should be brief and compressed. No credit will be given for circumlocutions that ramble endlessly through resumes of what happens in each assigned piece of literature. Be cautious! Please assume that your reader has just concluded reading the selection minutes before and is anxious to hear your analytical response—not your retelling of what has just been read.

Compress your evaluation of the issues at hand into a few well-crafted sentences, drawing phrases from the text to support each of the assertions that you make. Enjoy yourself! There are no “expected” answers; you are encouraged to draw your own conclusions to what each work is saying to you, making certain that you support your positions with ample evidence given in phrase citations from the text.

Grading the Submitted Assignments

As mentioned earlier, you are not expected to out-guess me in attempting to construct the exact response “expected,” for no such expectation exists. The best literature is like well-constructed scaffolding that permits the reader access to meaningful experiences stored within the mind. The word-pictures of the selections are intended to allow the reader to find new meaning in associations experienced long ago. Consequently, every sensitive reader is going to bask in discoveries very different from those sensed by other readers. Each is equally valid. You will be given high grades if you are successful in showing a detailed relationship between what you have “seen” and what the author has “painted.” As you do this, you must draw attention to the fusion of the author’s ideas and the word-pictures used to paint those ideas. If you offer several such insights as detailed in each lesson’s requirement and you insure that your style is as dignified as are the ideas you are examining, you will receive highest grades on your submitted work.

Content vs. Style

Because deficiencies in writing have been identified as a serious weakness among university graduates, BYU is firmly committed to the improvement of writing skills in every course it teaches. This late English Renaissance course should be one of your most valuable in improving your writing because the models you will be analyzing are among the best available.

To help you with your writing, I will give as much attention to your style as to your content for all ten of the assignments to be submitted. Please regard this as a first-rate opportunity to get feedback on your progress. Don’t complain: “Hey, are you interested in what I have to say, or are you going to crab about my style?” Admittedly, the content of your submissions will get primary consideration, and you should give your best effort to formulating well-supported responses. Once your first draft is finalized, however, let it chill long enough to permit you to see the rough spots that will likely appear smooth to you as they first find their way onto the page. Give particular attention to the transition words at the beginning of sentences and paragraphs.

Then give attention to the punctuation at the end of each sentence. Constructions that are distantly separated should be separated by a period; those that are closer should be separated by a semicolon. Those that are very close together should be separated by a comma and a coordinating conjunction (such as “, and” or “, but”). Perhaps the most significant changes you can make are found in letting only the most important ideas have the dignity of independent clauses, putting all other construction in dependent clauses, verbals, or phrases. For a model, read the first verse of the Book of Mormon and note how it contains four verbals (having, having, having, having) followed by a very effective final independent clause: “I make a record of my proceedings in my days.” What an appropriate emphasis for the beginning of a large record.

Formatting Your Papers for Submission

Remember to submit your assignments as Microsoft Word .DOC or .DOCX files. Name the file using this style—be sure to use your own name: ENGL385_JaneSmith_WritingAssignment1.docx.

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Twenty percent of the course grade will come from the midcourse examination and thirty percent will come from the comprehensive final. The exams are closed book and closed notes and there is a two hour time limit. You must pass the final exam with at least 60% to pass the course.

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Assignments and Exams Weight
Lesson 1 Instructor-Graded Assignment 5%
Lesson 3 Instructor-Graded Assignment 5%
Lesson 5 Instructor-Graded Assignment 5%
Lesson 7 Instructor-Graded Assignment 5%
Lesson 9 Instructor-Graded Assignment 5%
Midcourse Exam 20%
Lesson 10 Instructor-Graded Assignment 5%
Lesson 12 Instructor-Graded Assignment 5%
Lesson 14 Instructor-Graded Assignment 5%
Lesson 16 Instructor-Graded Assignment 5%
Lesson 18 Instructor-Graded Assignment 5%
Final Exam 30%
Total: 100%

Grade Scale

A 100–93
A- 92–90
B+ 89–87
B 86–83
B- 82–80
C+ 79–77
C 76–73
C- 72–70
D+ 69–67
D 66–63
D- 62–60
E 59–0

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Maintaining Momentum

While the university is generous in the time allotted for your completing this course, please pace yourself to finish well within the limits. If you wait for those large blocks of time during which the assignments can write themselves, you’ll likely never complete the course. Find the magic of regular blocks of time that are simply off limits to all the temptations that try to lure you away.

Being emphasized here is the fact that these lessons are very closely related to each other, and large delays between lessons deplete the energy that is needed for moving your work along. Once you get into the rhythm of reading, analyzing, responding, reviewing, and writing, you’ll find a pattern that will move you through the lessons with a momentum that you’ll find very pleasant and rewarding. Because several of the lessons don’t require submission and because lesson turn-around time at the university is refreshingly fast, you will never be held up. Please block frequent study times, and you’ll be highly pleased with the efficiency and the quality of your work.

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Copyright Notice

The materials used in connection with this online course are only for the use of students enrolled in this course for purposes associated with this course and may not be retained or further disseminated. Any copying or further dissemination of these materials may be subject to applicable U.S. Copyright Laws. For questions or more information, please visit the BYU Copyright Licensing Office website.

“Members of the BYU community who willfully disregard this Copyright Policy or the BYU Copyright Guidelines place themselves individually at risk of legal action and may incur personal liability for their conduct. The unauthorized use or distribution of copyrighted material, including unauthorized peer-to-peer file sharing, may subject individuals to civil and criminal liabilities, including actual and statutory damages, costs and fees of litigation, fines, and imprisonment

Violations of the Copyright Policy may result in university disciplinary action including termination of university enrollment or employment.” (Emphasis added. Excerpt taken from the BYU Copyright Policy)

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University Policy - Title IX Statement

Preventing & Responding to Sexual Misconduct

In accordance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Brigham Young University prohibits unlawful sex discrimination against any participant in its education programs or activities. The university also prohibits sexual harassment—including sexual violence—committed by or against students, university employees, and visitors to campus. As outlined in university policy, sexual harassment, dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking are considered forms of "Sexual Misconduct" prohibited by the university.

University policy requires all university employees in a teaching, managerial, or supervisory role to report all incidents of Sexual Misconduct that come to their attention in any way, including but not limited to face-to-face conversations, a written class assignment or paper, class discussion, email, text, or social media post. Incidents of Sexual Misconduct should be reported to the Title IX Coordinator at or (801) 422-8692. Reports may also be submitted through EthicsPoint at or 1-888-238-1062 (24-hours a day).

BYU offers confidential resources for those affected by Sexual Misconduct, including the university’s Victim Advocate, as well as a number of non-confidential resources and services that may be helpful. Additional information about Title IX, the university’s Sexual Misconduct Policy, reporting requirements, and resources can be found at or by contacting the university’s Title IX Coordinator.

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Accessibility Notice

BYU is committed to providing a working and learning atmosphere which reasonably accommodates persons with disabilities who are otherwise qualified to participate in BYU's programs and activities. In this spirit, BYU Independent Study aspires to improve web accessibility for users. While not required by law, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Levels A and AA provide a wide range of helpful recommendations to make Web content more accessible. BYU Independent Study strives to apply WCAG 2.0 recommendations where feasible, but may deviate from any recommendations that would result in an undue hardship to BYU Independent Study or alterations to program and course content and objectives. If you have questions about accessibility, or if you need to report problems with any accessibility features please see our Accessibilities and Accommodations Web Page.

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Course Policies

These policies are specific to this course. For additional information about general policies, please refer to Independent Study Course Policies page.


10 written assignments, no resubmissions. 


2 proctored exams (short-answer and essay questions), may retake each once for a fee, must pass the final exam to earn credit for the course

Retake an exam for a fee.

Getting Help

Please use the help menu in this course to contact Independent Study or your instructor. You can find a list of free tutors available to BYU Independent Study students on the Free Tutoring Services website.

Note: The Harold B. Lee Library website provides a number of online resources and librarians are available via phone, chat, and email to answer questions about library-related issues.

Inappropriate Use of Course Content

All course materials (e.g., outlines, handouts, syllabi, exams, quizzes, media, lecture content, audio and video recordings, etc.) are proprietary. Students are prohibited from posting or selling any such course materials without the express written permission of BYU Independent Study. To do so is a violation of the Brigham Young University Honor Code.

Copyright © 2016 Brigham Young University. All rights reserved.

Published by the
Department of Independent Study
Division of Continuing Education
Brigham Young University
120 MORC
Provo, Utah 84602-1514