English 105 - Winter, 2022

History of Language

Class Information

Instructor: Chaganti, Seeta
CRN: 23440
Time: MWF 1:10-2:00
Location: REMOTE
GE Areas: Writing Experience


This course encourages students to ask why the English they speak has the look, sound, structure, and politics that it does. We begin with Old English and the Vikings, proceed all the way to the present day, and even speculate about where our language is headed in the future. Throughout, we will learn about the many fascinating features of our language. We will look at etymology, onomastics (the origins and meanings of names), idioms, and the impact of digital technology and global culture on language. Because this is an English course, and not a linguistics course, we will focus mainly on English as a literary language, relying throughout the course on examples drawn from the entire history of Anglophone literature, from the most ancient epics, to literature in English by international diasporas, to poetry generated entirely by computers. The goal of this course is to change students' understanding of how their language works. With this awareness comes a new kind of power to wield English effectively for a variety of purposes.


Requirements: quizzes and written exercises (that will be revisited to build toward the final paper) throughout the quarter; midterm; final exam; final paper; participation.


Stories of English, David Crystal