FAQs for English 241

English 241: The Text in its Historical Moment 

  • What is English 241? This course explores the relationship between texts and their historical circumstances, addressing the question of how literary works are enmeshed in their material, economic, social, and political conditions. The course examines how we define and reconstruct historical moments, and the various ways in which we interpret texts in relation to their moments.Readings include a wide range of kinds of material, including texts traditionally considered literary or imaginative and those traditionally considered documentary or factual, as well as other cultural objects like films, works of material culture, and archival material. The course focuses on at least two historical moments and includes material from before 1800 and after 1800, as well as material from at least two national literatures.
  • How many historical moments should I cover in English 241? Your course should focus on at least two historical moments and includes material from before 1800 and after 1800, as well as material from at least two national literatures. You can focus on more than two historical moments but try to limit the number of historical moments so that you have time to fully cover both the literary and historical material in each moment.
  • Should I assign primary historical sources in English 241? Yes, definitely! One of the goals of the course is to teach students to understand the relationship between texts that are considered literary and other kinds of texts that are considered to be primary sources. You should make use of archival material, especially in the growing number of digital archives.
  • How should I teach history in this course? There are various ways to teach the historical context for each of your moments. Try to use a combination of excerpts from writing by historians, primary sources, documentary sources, and/ or cultural objects from the time period or that represent the time period.
  • Where can I find sample syllabi and assignments from past sections of English 241? Please click here for sample syllabi. Natalie Leger’s sample assignments on key terms can be found here and here. And here are some lesson plans, assignments, and research questions from Miles Grier’s 241.
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About Karen Weingarten

Karen Weingarten is an assistant professor at Queens College.
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