“Literature is not a game for the cloistered elect. Literature is as old as speech. It grew out of human need for it and it has not changed except to become more needed.” (John Steinbeck)
English Literature provides a firm foundation of skills for many degree subjects through the study of challenging texts in context, advanced essay writing, and sophisticated critical analysis. It also offers an opportunity for pupils to discover some of their own cultural heritage and study dramatic, poetic and narrative works of great beauty, imagination and humour.
In the first year pupils study six texts; three of these are from the post-1900 period, and may be drawn from any genre. Examples of selected texts include: High Windows by Philip Larkin, Enduring Love by Ian McEwan and The End of the Affair by Graham Greene. In addition to these post-1900 texts, pupils study two texts chosen from a prescribed list of authors; one text is prose, such as The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, and the other an anthology of poetry, by poets such as W.B Yeats. The final text is a work of critical theory.
In the second year of the course pupils study a Shakespearean text and examine two further texts which cover both poetry and drama from a prescribed list. The fourth module involves the study of texts across at least two genres of poetry, prose and drama, and pupils are required to produce an essay exploring the connections and comparisons between three related texts.
A reading list is available on the English Department website to assist pupils in preparing for this course. We also have a Literary Society, which gives pupils the opportunity to see a variety of productions, meet writers and experts in their field and discuss literature and contexts with their peers and teachers.
English Literature is an excellent preparation for those considering reading English, Drama, Film Studies, History or History of Art at university. It is likely to prove useful for careers in law, journalism, media or publishing.