History of English

February 6, 2017 @ 1:30 pm – 3:00 pm
Main Library, 2nd Floor Events Room

Instructor: Dr. Joseph Taylor

This three-session course will offer students an overview of the English language from its origins in Anglo-Saxon England in the fifth century to the many Englishes spoken in the United States in the twenty-first century.

  • Session One will examine Old and Middle English, the first two substantial phases of the language. We will look at the profile of these first two phases of English, discussing early linguistic controversies, biases, and politics while looking at various literary examples.
  • Session Two will examine the material process of language production, pondering the transition between manuscript and print culture, and move into the third phase of the language, early modern English. We will listen to Shakespeare in its original pronunciation, and look at examples from the first grammar guides and dictionaries.
  • Session Three will focus on present-day English around the globe, with a specific focus on the United States. We will discuss numerous language controversies such as the Ebonics debate, English-only laws, and American dialects broadly.