Taken literally, “Anglophone literature” refers to literatures written in English; however, in literary studies the term has many inflections, hence the need for a working definition. For the purpose of this examination, we define “Anglophone literature” as literatures in English produced by writers from nations that are former colonies of Britain, excluding the United States. The term “Anglophone" highlights the linguistic commonality of these writings. However, Anglophone literary critical discourse recognizes that the shared historical experience of British colonial rule and contemporary forms of imperialism forge other forms of connectedness of these writings besides the use of English. In addition, the discourse takes into serious account disparate historical, cultural and political contexts within which these literatures are produced. Finally, it should be noted that as a field of study, Anglophone literature has much in common with Commonwealth literature, Postcolonial literature and New Literatures in English.
Time Frame & Geographical Areas
We will cover writings produced from 1850 to the present, and initially by writers from Anglophone Africa, South Asia, and the Caribbean, including those from these areas in postcolonial Diasporas.
Students who wish to specialize in the field of Anglophone literature are expected to:
Understand the historical development of this field of study.
2. Demonstrate in-depth knowledge of major literary writings (primary texts) from all of the Anglophone areas identified above.
3. Be familiar with social, cultural, and historical particularities of the Anglophone areas identified above. For example, students should be conversant with slavery in the Caribbean, the partition of India, independence movements in Anglophone Africa, apartheid in South Africa, and postcolonial migrations.
4. Be familiar with critical theories that have been used to interpret Anglophone literature and be able to apply insights gained to produce theoretically informed analyses of primary texts.
5. Understand transnational and trans-cultural dimensions of Anglophone literature.
Anglo-Saxon literature, the literary writings in Old English English language, member of the West Germanic group of the Germanic subfamily of the Indo-European family of languages (see Germanic languages). Spoken by about 470 million people throughout the world, English is the official language of about 45 nations. composed between c.650 and c.1100.
OLD ENGLISH LITERATURE
The Anglo-Saxon or Old English period goes from the invasion of Celtic England by the Angles, Saxons and Jutes in the first half of the fifth century up till the conquest in 1066 by William of Normandy.
Many Anglo-Saxon poems, in the form they are extant, were not written down until perhaps two and one-half centuries after their compositions, since scribal effort had been spent on Latin, the new language of culture. This was possible thanks to the further development of the programs of King Alfred in the late tenth century and the Benedictine Revival of the early eleventh century. After their conversion to Christianity in the seventh century the Anglo-Saxons began to develop a written literature; before that period it had been oral. The Church and the Benedictine monastic foundations and their Latin culture played an important part in the development of Anglo-Saxon England cultural life, literacy and learning. No poetry surely pre-Christian in composition survives. The survival of poetry was due to the Church: it was the result of the tenth-century monastic revival. The Benedictine Revival was the crowning of a process that had begun in the sixth century and had produced a large body of English prose by the time of the Norman Conquest in 1066. Anglo-Saxon England is thought to have been rich in poetry, but very little of it survives. Most of the available corpus of Anglo-Saxon literature, little more than 30,000 lines in all, survives in just four manuscript books.
From the Anglo-Saxon period dates what is known as Old English literature, composed in the vernacular Anglo-Saxon. It includes early national poetry: Pagan Epic Poetry and Pagan Elegies,Old English Christian Poetry,Latin Writings and Old English Prose.
1. Pagan Epic Poetry.
BEOWULF is the chief Anglo-Saxon epic poem. It is wholly mysterious. No one knows who wrote it, or when, or where, or why. Beowulf is a narrative poem of 3,182 lines, transmitted in a manuscript written between the tenth and the twelfth centuries, but much older. To some it is the symbol of the antiquity and continuity of English poetry. But it never mentions people who are known to have lived in Britain. All its allusions are Continental or Scandinavian. Apart from Beowulf, the only surviving remains of early national epic poetry are a fragment, Deor's Lament, The Finnesburgh Fragment, (50 lines), and two short fragments (63 lines together) of Waldere, The Battle of Maldon, The Battle of Brunanburh.
2. Pagan Lyrical and Elegiac Poems.
There is little else surviving of Anglo-Saxon literature which makes direct contact with the older heroic view. Deor's Lament, an interesting poem of forty-two lines, is the complaint of a minstrel who,after years of service to his lord, has been supplanted by a rival, Heorrenda. He comfort himself by recounting the trials of Germanic heroes, all of which were eventually overcome. But the main interest of the poem lies in its combination of this kind of subject matter with a personal, elegiac note. Together with Deor's Lament, there are other Anglo-Saxon elegies: The Wanderer, The Seafarer,The Ruin, The Wife's Lament, The Husband's Message,Wulf, and The Ruin Elegies is no more than a label of convenience applied to a small group of poems not unlike each other in theme and tone. In Saxon poetry, the lyric mood is always the elegiac. The so-called elegies are poems where the topic itself is loss: loss of a lord, loss of a loved one, the loss of fine buildings fallen into decay.