Have English Courses Changed? A Brooklyn Bard’s 20th Century English Courses

by Gabrielle Duggan, archival intern Fall 2017

Do you ever get stuck while writing an assignment for your English class and wonder if they were always this challenging? By taking a look at the syllabi and exams that alumnus William Alfred created when he was an English professor at Harvard University, we can answer that question!

First we have a syllabus from an introductory level English class that focused on the poetry of Geoffrey Chaucer. Professor Alfred explains that many words Chaucer uses are not part of common English vernacular any longer, so the students will have to familiarize themselves with their definitions and pronunciations. Have you taken any English classes that dealt with Middle-English vocabulary?

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