About This Chapter
Intro to English Literature Chapter Summary
This collection of online video lessons provides you with an overview of critical topics in English literature. Lessons cover all aspects of English literature, including:
- Literary terms (prose and poetry)
- Old and Middle English literature
- Renaissance literature (Shakespeare's plays and sonnets, Edmund Spenser's sonnets, Ben Jonson's poems)
- Romantic prose and poetry
- Victorian literature (works by Charles Dickens, George Eliot and Alfred Lord Tennyson)
- Modern authors and works
These lessons are taught by subject experts and supplement our full-length English courses. Take a look at the complete line of English courses we offer below.
How to Use this Chapter
Use these lessons as a study aid to help you prepare for exams or finish your homework. You can view the lessons in any order, and you'll get a greater understanding of English literature by digging deep into literary topics. English literature themes and characters come to life through the animated video lessons, helping you to remember the key information and learn about important works more quickly.
These lessons can also be used to supplement our other courses. This chapter pairs with our other English courses, including:
- English 102: American Literature
- English 103: Analyzing and Interpreting Literature
- English 104: College Composition
- English 105: Technical Writing
Check out these courses if you want to earn college credit or just want to see more lessons in one of these topics.
1. Byronic Hero: Definition, Characteristics & Examples
The literary archetype of the Byronic hero, first developed by the 19th-century English poet Lord Byron, is one of the most potent and relevant character archetypes in Western literature, art, and entertainment.
2. Neoclassical Literature: Definition, Characteristics & Movement
Neoclassical literature was written between 1660 and 1798. It was a time of both formality and artificiality. In this lesson, we will examine the characteristics and literature of this time period.
3. Metaphysical Poetry: Definition, Characteristics & Examples
It's extremely intelligent and witty. It is deeply religious but is also sure to be ironic and cynical. Learn about metaphysical poetry and how it takes on the questions that can't be answered by science.
4. Grendel's Battle with Beowulf: Character & Summary
The battle between Grendel and Beowulf is one of the most famous battles in English literature. Furthermore, Grendel is considered to be one of the most mysterious and complex villains to appear in Western culture.
5. Sinners In The Hands Of An Angry God by Edwards: Summary, Analysis & Metaphors
Jonathan Edwards's 'Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God' is one of the most famous sermons ever preached. Read this lesson to find out more about its themes and metaphors.
6. William Bradford's Of Plymouth Plantation: Summary & Analysis
In this lesson, we will learn about the work 'Of Plymouth Plantation' written by William Bradford. We will take a closer look at why the work was written, what it represents and where it is kept today for future generations to enjoy.
7. Literary Genres: Definition, Types, Characteristics & Examples
In this lesson, you will learn what is meant by the term genre. In addition, the main types of literary genres will be described, with examples given for each.
8. The Castle of Otranto: Summary & Analysis
'The Castle of Otranto' is known as the very first Gothic novel, although it was published in 1764, long before the Romantic era. In this lesson, we will both summarize and analyze its fast-moving plot.
9. William Wordsworth's The Solitary Reaper: Summary & Analysis
In this lesson you will learn what William Wordsworth's 1807 poem 'The Solitary Reaper' is about. Take a look at the summary and the analysis and then test yourself with a quiz.
10. Death Be Not Proud: Summary & Analysis
This lesson explains John Donne's sonnet 'Death Be Not Proud.' A summary of the poem is included in addition to a line-by-line analysis of the themes.
11. Charlotte's Web: Summary, Characters & Author
E. B. White's ''Charlotte's Web'' is one of the most famous classics of children's literature, and has been translated into multiple languages and made into several films. Learn about the novel and its popularity, meet some of the main characters, and test your knowledge with a quick quiz.
12. Christopher Isherwood: Biography & Books
In this lesson, we will discuss the novelist Christopher Isherwood, more specifically his life events and writing. Learn about this 21st-century writer and how his works affected other artistic genres, then test your knowledge with the quiz.
13. George Meredith: Biography & Poems
Success in life doesn't come easy, especially when you have to make it on your own. But stories like those of Victorian author George Meredith prove it can be done. Learn more about Meredith's story and works in this lesson!
14. Leo Tolstoy: Biography, Works & Quotes
Leo Tolstoy was without a doubt one of the world's greatest writers. His novels, such as 'War and Peace' and 'Anna Karenina,' brought him fame, not only in Russia, but in the world at large. In this lesson, we will look at the life of Leo Tolstoy and observe how he developed as writer.
15. Sir Thomas Malory: Biography & Works
Sir Thomas Malory, whose real identity is unknown, was a layman writer in medieval England. Learn more about Sir Thomas Malory's life and his most famous piece of writing, 'Le Morte D'Arthur,' then test your knowledge with a quiz.
16. Sir Thomas Wyatt: Biography, Poems & Sonnets
You might think of sonnets as 'Shakespearean,' but if it weren't for folks like Thomas Wyatt, Shakespeare might never have written one. Find out more about the life and influential work of a real literary ambassador in this lesson on Sir Thomas Wyatt.
17. The Aspern Papers by Henry James: Summary & Analysis
In this lesson, you will read about the short novel 'The Aspern Papers' by Henry James. The lesson consists of a summary of the important events surrounding the main character's unique literary quest, followed by a brief analysis of the work.
18. The Pickwick Papers by Dickens: Summary & Overview
In this lesson, we will focus on Charles Dickens's ''The Pickwick Papers.'' We will first examine some context on both Dickens and the novel's genre, and then we'll summarize the novel, pointing out its most memorable scenes and characters.
19. The Sword in the Stone: Summary & Characters
The Sword in the Stone is an enchanted retelling of the childhood of King Arthur of England. The book's magical adventures, talking animals, and questing knights actually provide serious life lessons that foreshadow the rule of the most legendary king of all time.
20. The Vicar of Wakefield: Summary, Characters, Themes & Analysis
Prized as one of the greatest models of 18th century Irish literature, ''The Vicar of Wakefield'' by Oliver Goldsmith is a complex novel of themes and characters. In this lesson, get an in-depth summary, description of characters, and thematic analysis.
21. Elements of a Short Story
When you read a short story, have you ever stopped to think about its main elements? This lesson discusses the five main elements of a short story, including characters, setting, plot, conflict, and theme.
22. Romanticism in Short Stories: Definition, Characteristics & Examples
The Romantic Movement was one of the most influential periods in literature, and it continues to influence modern stories. This lesson outlines the traits common in Romantic short stories.
23. Satire in British Short Stories: Elements & Examples
Laughter can be a very powerful force. Read this lesson to discover how British authors have used satire to direct laughter at creating social change.
24. Scientific Romance in 19th-Century British Short Stories
How did science fiction begin? In this lesson, we'll explore one of the predecessors to science fiction, scientific romance. We'll look at what it was, and how British short stories in the 1800s represented the genre.
25. The Chronic Argonauts by H.G. Wells: Summary & Analysis
Every type of story started somewhere. In this lesson, we'll examine the origins of the manmade time machine in literature. We'll explore H.G. Wells' story 'The Chronic Argonauts' and its main character.
26. Influence of Naturalism on American Short Stories
In this lesson, we will learn about how naturalism influenced American short stories. We will discuss the elements of naturalism from the 19th and 20th century, as well as, differentiate it from realism and read about stories that used naturalism.
27. Modernist Short Stories: Characteristics, Writers & Examples
This lesson explores literary modernism during the early 20th century. What influenced the writings of this time? What are the common elements? What are some examples of modernistic short stories? Read ahead to learn more.
28. Analyzing Multicultural Short Stories: Techniques & Examples
In this lesson, we explore the multicultural short story and discuss some techniques and tips that can help you understand the story better. Additionally, we briefly examine an example and discuss how it uses its culture to inform the narrative.
29. Magical Realism in Short Fiction: Definition, Writers & Examples
In this lesson we will learn about magical realism used in literature, where extraordinary things happen in a real life environment. We'll differentiate it from other forms, and also see several authors and stories that employ magical realism.
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Other chapters within the College English Literature: Help and Review course
- Literary Terms and Analysis: Help and Review
- Poetic Types & Styles
- Old and Middle English Literature: Help and Review
- The Renaissance in English Literature: Help and Review
- 17th and 18th Century English Literature: Help and Review
- Romantic Prose in English Literature: Help and Review
- Romantic Poetry in English Literature: Help and Review
- Victorian Literature: Help and Review
- Turn-of-the-Century Literature: Help and Review
- Modernism in English Literature: Help and Review
- Nonfiction in English Literature: Help and Review
- Historical, Social, & Cultural Aspects of Literature