Ch 11: Nonfiction in English Literature

About This Chapter

Watch enlightening literature video lessons and use the accompanying quizzes to measure your understanding. Learn about the role of nonfiction reading materials in English literature.

English Literature: Nonfiction

While it may seem as if fiction was the mainstay of English literature in the past, nonfiction actually played an important role too. These lessons will guide you through the major figures in nonfiction, such as the early critic Philip Sidney, the utilitarian John Stuart Mill, the prolific John Ruskin and the power couple of Mary Wollstonecraft and William Godwin.

Have you ever wondered where critics originated? Well they all stem from the first critic, Sir Philip Sidney. The video lessons will explore his background and how he came to be known as the first English-language critic. You'll also discuss his 1579 argument, Defense of Poesy. With an expansive background in literature, Sidney came to the defense of poetry and made a case for poets everywhere. You'll be able to study how he did this and what impact his words had on society and the field of literature.

The video lessons will carry on to a discussion of John Stuart Mill. In this lesson's presentation, you'll learn about utilitarianism. You'll dive into a discussion of philosophy and Mill's contributions to philosophical disciplines. To help you understand Mill better, the lesson includes a short biography and explains how his upbringing affected his future work. The lesson will also explain the main themes that are seen in Mill's works, such as utility, naturalism and anti-institutionalism.

If ever there was a power couple in English literature, it was Mary Wollstonecraft and William Godwin. Wollstonecraft and Godwin had a short marriage, but they made a significant impact. Discover how this short-lived couple brought the ideas of feminism and anarchism to the forefront. You'll also learn about the greatest work that the couple shared - their daughter, Mary Shelley. The lesson will discuss the two authors separately to give you a good look at each of their contributions to English literature.

The lessons will wrap up with a discussion of John Ruskin. The Victorian era Ruskin created over 50 works. Ruskin focused on art, but under his terms. To him, art didn't just encompass pictures, but rather art could be a thought or a way to determine the well being of a nation. The lesson divides into two sections - one based on Ruskin's work and one based on his work as a critic. You'll get to follow Ruskin from birth throughout his career to see his impact on the literary world. We hope you enjoy these video lessons. Thanks for watching!

Chapter Practice Exam
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Practice Final Exam
Test your knowledge of the entire course with a 50 question practice final exam.
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