This course explores the history of the English language through the history of English literature. The main focus of this course is to trace the development of English from its earliest written documentation in Old English to the flourishing of Middle English to its more familiar form of Early Modern English. This language history is approached through the focused study of literary texts representative of distinct linguistic stages of English, such as Old English prose writings and poems, selections from Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, Middle English lyrics, or Shakespeare’s sonnets. The goal is to use the linguistic changes in phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, lexicon, and graphics that occurred in the English language between ca. 500-ca. 1700 C.E. to better understand English literature. In addition, students will study the historical contexts and cultural forces that have conditioned and shaped the linguistic changes of English.