The Complete Idiot's Guide to English Literature

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Explore the canon of great writers.

In this incredible volume, English professor Jay Stevenson teaches readers everything they want—and need—to know about English literature. From Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, and Keats, to more modern figures like Nabokov, Salinger, Morrison, and Updike, this handy guide also includes information on periods, time frames, every type of criticism, the differences and similarities of the literature on each side ...

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Explore the canon of great writers.

In this incredible volume, English professor Jay Stevenson teaches readers everything they want—and need—to know about English literature. From Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, and Keats, to more modern figures like Nabokov, Salinger, Morrison, and Updike, this handy guide also includes information on periods, time frames, every type of criticism, the differences and similarities of the literature on each side of the Atlantic, and more.
—Fascinating, fact-filled writing that explores English literature as it is studied right now
—Terrific supplementary reading for AP English Lit students
—Helps readers explore and study fiction, plays, poems, and prose

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781592576562
  • Publisher: Alpha Books
  • Publication date: 6/5/2007
  • Series: Complete Idiot's Guide Series
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 7.44 (w) x 9.22 (h) x 0.72 (d)

Meet the Author

Jay Stevenson, Ph.D., is the author of The Complete Idiot's Guide® to Philosophy, The Complete Idiot's Guide® to Eastern Philosophy, and The Pocket Idiot's Guide? to Grammar and Punctuation. He received his Ph.D. in English Literature from Rutgers University and has taught at Rutgers and Ryder University.
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Table of Contents

Angles on English     1
Lit and Crit     3
The It of Lit     4
Serious Play     4
A Full Plate     5
The Worm Turns     6
Shifting Focus     6
The Old English, or the Early Medieval Period (Fifth to Eleventh Centuries)     7
The Middle English, or the Late Medieval, Period (Twelfth to Fifteenth Centuries)     7
The Renaissance (1540-1640)     7
The Augustan Period (1670-1790)     8
The Romantic Period (1790-1840)     8
The Victorian Period (1840-1900)     9
The Modern Period (1900-1945)     9
The Postmodern Period (1945-Present)     9
The More Things Change     11
So Why Study English?     11
Holding Your Own     12
Up Close and Textual     15
Close Calls     16
Still Critical     16
Open and Close     17
Cutting Both Ways     17
Reading Actively     18
Back and Forth     18
The Ways of Words     19
Reading by Design     20
Seeing Is Believing     21
Worth a Thousand Words     21
BeyondCompare     22
Descent from the Mountain     22
Playing with God     23
Hall of Famer     24
Canon Fighting     27
Gone but Not Forgotten     28
Not Fade Away     28
Making the Cut     29
Canon to the Right of Them     30
Annie Get Your Canon     30
Canon Cannot     31
Disarming the Canon     31
In Defense of the Canon     31
Loaded Canon     32
Parting Shots     33
It Takes All Kinds     35
Assigning Labels     36
Knowing Ahead of Time     36
Hard to Pin Down     36
Poking Holes     37
Family Resemblance     38
Generic Makeup     38
Generic Mutation     38
Good "Ode" Times     39
Song and Dance     40
The Other Ode     40
"Ode" English     41
The Ode Looks Inward     42
The Ode Comes of Age     42
A Well-Urned Retirement     43
Forgotten, but Not Gone     44
Between the Lines     45
Structure and Beyond      46
The Shape We're In     46
Meaning Turned Inside Out     47
Taking Talk Apart     47
Coming Up Empty     47
Pulling the Rug of Language Out from Under Us     48
Disassembly Required     48
The Human Element     49
Key Players     49
Meeting the Challenge     50
The Point Is How Powerfully You Miss the Point     50
P.C. (Political Criticism)     53
Folks in Focus     54
Made-Up Selves     54
The Power of the Powerful     55
The Legs We Stand On     55
Strange Bedfellows     56
New Historicism: It's All in the Timing     57
Feminism: Angel Killers     57
Essence Is Optional     58
Postcolonialism: Who's "We," White Man?     58
Radicals: Left Out and Taken Over     59
Queer Theory: Same Difference     59
Time and Tide     61
It Is Written     62
Close Encounters of the Literary Kind     62
New and Newer     63
Pride and Prejudice     64
The "Great" Tradition     64
Time Warps      65
Bursting Bubbles     66
Bridging the Gaps     67
Levels of Difficulty     67
Lines in the Sand     68
Dead White Man's Burden     69
Multiculturalism     69
Different Sides of the Story     69
Multiculturalism in the Classroom     70
Finding a Place     71
Fitting Forms     73
The Best and the Verse     75
Speaking Strangely     75
Questions and Answers     76
Talking a Good Game     76
Less Clear, More Meaningful     77
Spitting Imagery     78
Hearing Things     79
Sound Off     80
Rosy Rhythm     80
Lines Through Time     82
Stressed Out     82
Coupling     82
Shooting Blanks     83
Free and Easy     84
Stage lights     87
Serious Play     88
Two Major Occasions     88
Introducing Drama     89
Aristotle: A Man of Principles     89
Tragic Turns     89
Tying Things Together     90
Drama's Second Start      91
Staging Morality     91
The Subject of Morality Plays     91
Old Styles, New Forms     92
School Plays and Court Dramas     93
Production Numbers     93
Not Playing Around     93
Drama Curriculum     94
The Influence of Senecan Tragedies     94
More Changes in Theater     95
Limitations of the Restoration     96
Pantomime and Melodrama     96
The Return of Serious Drama     97
Shaw's Socialist Satire     97
Trade Secrets     98
Taking Lit by the Tale     101
Tell Me Another     101
Writing the Unwritten     102
Speaking and Writing     102
Oral Fixations     103
Structured Stories     103
Telling Characters     104
Spoken Perspective     105
The Write Place at the Write Time     105
Story Lines     105
Written Writers     106
Epic Achievements     106
The Romance of Narrative     108
Narrative Necessity     109
Leave It to the Prose     111
All Talk     112
Nice Figures     112
Eloquent Examples     113
Shining Lives     113
Prose Reformers     114
Try, Try Again     114
Literary Characters     115
Essay Issues     116
Good Morals and Good Taste     116
Common Bonds     117
Way Back When     119
Old School     121
In the Beginning     122
The Christian Empire Emerges     122
A Mixed Bag     123
Mental Mergers     123
All Signs Point Up     124
What's the Big Ideal     124
Typecasting     125
Deja Vu     125
A Tale of Types     126
A January-May Romance     127
Mythic Figures     128
True and False     128
Born-Again Classicism     129
Virgil's Vocation     129
Echoes of Virgil     130
Polished Models and Deism     131
Rite and Wrong     132
Christ Victorian     133
From Nostalgia to Irony     134
Monks and Warriors     135
"Dark" Is Beautiful     136
Hard to Fathom      136
Will the Real "English Lit" Please Stand Up?     137
The Whole Story     137
From Tribal to Scribal     138
Fighting and Writing     138
Caedmon: In Your Dreams     138
Strong Survivors     139
Charmed, I'm Sure     140
Riddle Me This     140
You Know It     141
Beowulf: Old Hero     142
Praise and Blame     143
Men and Monsters     143
Quests and Visions     145
Stormin' Normans     146
A Day of Knights     146
Hello, Ladies     146
Conquered and Conquering Kings     147
Stories from the Round Table     147
Off with His Head!     147
Nobody's Perfect     148
Tales for the Road     149
Narrative Frame     150
Lightening Up     150
Birds of a Feather     151
Chaucer's Trade Secrets     152
Works and Plays     153
Family Feud     154
Courtiers and Cavaliers     157
Brave New World     158
Fame and Finesse     158
Boy Meets Girl, Boy Gets Tree      159
Order in the Court     159
Queen and Country     160
Old-Fangled Language     161
The Queen Is Dead! (and Other Changes)     162
Getting It Donne     162
Now or Never     163
Severed Head of State     164
Justifying the Ways of God to Men     164
Devilish Doings     165
The Bard     167
William Who?     168
Strokes of Genius     168
That's Show Biz     169
Shakespeare's Playbook     170
Paper Trail     170
Playing with the Past     171
The Tudor Myth     172
Bad Rap     173
Signs of the Times     174
Status Symbolism     174
Back to Nature     175
Depth of Character     177
Blue-Blooded and Blue     177
A Chip Off the Old Chopping Block?     178
August Personages     181
King and Stage Restored     182
Good Manners     182
Good Boys Behaving Badly     182
Potent Pretence     183
Satire: The Best Medicine     183
High Standards, Low Expectations     183
Swift Kicks     184
Wry Lines     186
Novel Ideas     187
True to Life-Sometimes     187
Just Desserts     188
These Days     191
Romantic Moods     193
Rising Tides     194
Growing Pains     194
All, All Alone     194
Wordsworthy Sentiments     195
Theory and Practice     195
Formative Years     196
All for One     197
Byron: Alone with Others     197
Fitting the Profile     198
A Hopeless Romantic     198
Plain Jane     199
Even Keel     199
Off Again, on Again     200
Gothic Novels: Scary Stories     200
Grave Ideals     200
Seeing Things     201
Works for Victoria     203
Pride and Power     204
From Bildungsroman to Sci Fi     204
Keeping It Real     205
Shifting Standards     205
Going to the Dickens     206
It's a Twisted World     206
A Virtue of Naivete     207
Getting Dark      207
Dark Hearts, Dark Minds     208
Kurtz Rejoinders     208
Skip This Section If You Haven't Read the Book     209
Good Liars     209
Lady Killer     210
The Mating Game     211
You Better Believe     212
Gasping for Eyre     212
Losing Game     213
Gothic Revival     213
Wilde and Earnest     213
Modern Methods     217
In the Line of Fire     218
Entrenched in War     218
A Tomb of One's Owen     218
Showing and Knowing     220
Modern Shake-Up     220
Old and New     220
A Big Waste     221
Typist as Archetype     222
Stream Lines     223
Words Unspoken     224
Mind in Motion     224
This Just In     227
From Pillar to Post     228
Pointless Plays     228
Laid Bare     228
Arrested Development     229
Play List     230
Spell-Binders     230
Clash of Enchantment     230
A Magic State     231
Eyes of the Beholders     231
More Charmers     232
Cyber-Fi     232
Don't Call 'Em Geeks     232
Brain Link     233
A Hard Case     234
Now Is the Future     234
...And Read All Over     237
New Theories, Wider Focus     238
There's More to Life Than Literature     238
Don't Ask What, Ask How     239
Fitting In     239
Act Locally, Think Globally     240
All Connected     240
Writ Large     241
Culture: High vs. Mass     241
What Are We, Barbarians?     242
Industrial Strength     242
You Are Getting Sleepy     242
Muddling Along     243
Culture R Us     243
Net Culture     244
Lit Lives On     244
Lit Gloss     247
Read On, MacDuff     257
Index     313
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Customer Reviews

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  • Posted April 8, 2011


    Too much theory and not enough on the literature itself. Austen, Dickens, etc are very common...this book barely scratches the surface. Even the back index of extra reading was lacking. Borrow, don't buy.

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    Posted December 11, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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    Posted January 14, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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