History of the English Language

Tentative Syllabus


ENGL 5300.01

TLC 1112

MW 2:00-3:15


Instructor:  Dr Micheal Crafton

Office hours: MW 9-11 

Office location:  TLC 2-225; Bonner House


Course:  ENGL 5300 Studies in the English Language


Required texts and other readings/materials:

Graddol, David, Dick Leith and Joan Swann.  English: History, Diversity and Change.  London: Routledge, 2001.


Course description: A sustained analysis of a particular linguistic theme, an approach to, or a regional expression of the English language. Regular offerings in the history of the English language and its development from Anglo-Saxon to contemporary varieties of world English will rotate with other topics. ENGL 4300 be repeated for credit as topic varies (for example, instead of History of the English Language, one could take Grammar of Introduction to Linguistics).


Learning Outcomes:


·        Students will be capable of conducting independent and meaningful course-related research and of synthesizing it in the form of a correctly documented research paper prepared according to current professional standards.



Relationship of course goals to program goals:


This course prepares students to complete successfully the comprehensive oral examination that is required for all M.A. degree candidates.

This course provides students with literary, historical, and critical contexts related to texts on the department's required reading list.

Oral presentations in the course strengthen students' presentation skills and prepare them further for the oral comprehensive examination which is required for the M.A. degree.

Gaining further knowledge of texts in this area strengthens students' content area knowledge, prepares them for taking nationally recognized standardized examinations. such as the advanced GRE subject examination in English, and further prepares them for careers in teaching, writing, and business or advanced graduate-level study.


Class Policies:


Attendance: Since this class meets only twice a week, attendance is all the more important.  Attendance should be understood as more than merely occupying space in a passive manner; rather, it should be understand as a productive act.  In fact, it should be considered a production in the way that creating a paper or report is considered as a production. In order to get full credit, your presence must be known, and it must be known as that of a prepared student working to make the class an event of learning, of intellectual and artistic exchange.


Late Work: Generally, my policy for unexcused late work is that it loses a letter grade for every day it is late. There are, of course, extenuating circumstances, but these need to be made and made well.


Plagiarism: Intentional plagiarism, that is, the conscious adoption of someone else's writing or ideas as your own is a profanation to everything I hold important. If a student is clearly guilty of this, the result will be an F for the class and a report to the disciplinary officials of the University.



Daily Assignments:

All chapter references and page number references are to the text listed above.

Week 1:  English and Englishes

M    19             “Introduction pp. 1-2; Overview of course; Introduction to web sites

W    21            Chapter 1, pp. 1-15 (including Reading A)


Week 2: Whose English?

M    26             Chapter 1 (remaining pages)

W    28                        Reading B and C from Chapter 1; “Fun with the IPA” Handout and p. 386


Week 3: Writing Systems

M    2               Chapter 2; History of Writing www.ancientscripts.com and other sites.

W    4              Chapter 2


Week 4: Phonology  

M    9               Chapter 2

W    11            Chapter 7


Week 5: Indo-European and Language Families

M    16             Handout Reading

W    18            Exam # 1


Week 6: Story of English: Old English

M    23             Chapter 3

W    25                        Chapter 3


Week 7: Story of English: Old English

M    30             Chapter 3

W    2              Chapter 3


Week 8:  Story of English: Modernity and Standards

M    7               Chapter 4; Renaissance and National Standards

W    9              Chapter 4; Renaissance and Enrichment


Week 9:  Story of English: 18th and 19th Centuries

M    14             Chapter 4; Late Renaissance and Reform: Grammar Books

W    16                        Chapter 4; Late Renaissance and Reform: Dictionaries


Week 10: Story of English: Late 19th and early 20th Century Developments

M    21             Chapter 4; Industrial Revolutions; Romanticism; Victorian Period and the OED

W    23            Exam # 2


Week 11: English Moves Abroad

M    28             Chapter 5.1 – 5.3

W    30                        Chapter 5.4: American English


Week 12:  American English

M     4              Chapter 5.4; Handouts

W    6              Chapter 5.5-5.6; Ebonics and Creoles


Week 13:  Variations in Grammar and Speech

M    11             Chapter 6

W    13                        Chapter 7


Week 14: Variations and Presentations

M    18             Chapter 8

W    20            Student Presentations


Week 15: Presentations and Thanksgiving

M    25             Student Presentations:  Term Papers Due ***

W    27            Thanksgiving Holidays


Week 15:  Final Things

M    2               Chapter 8: Standards and Value Judgments

W    4    Last Day of Classes: Course Evaluation, Review for Final, Continuation of Class Presentations (if necessary)


E    11    Exam # 3 (2-4 pm)


1.      1.Exam # 1 = 15 %

2.      2.Exam # 2 = 15 %

3.      3.Exam # 3 = 25 % (counts more because of comprehensive essay question)

4.      4.Participation = 10 %

5.      5.Project = 20 %

6.      6. Two book reports  15% (2-3 pages, part synthesis and part critique)


Book Reports:

Graduate students will write two book reports, one due around mid-term and the other due before the final.  These must be scholarly books on topics related to the history of the language and require instructor approval. 


Class Project 

A standard research paper (10 pages long, 8 to 10 references) on a topic related to the history of the language (e.g. teaching dialects of English, theories of the Great Vowel Shift, dialectal variations in Chaucer).


For a list of useful web sites see the following: 



Tests and Study Guides