2013 advance reading for BA English

Literary Aesthetics after 1800 (semester 1)

The following texts will form the focal point of your studies in the first semester. Please ensure that the correct editions are purchased. While you will examine these texts in depth during your Literary Aesthetics after 1800 module it is a good idea to read them for the first time as soon as possible. In particular, as they will be the first texts that will be covered by the module, we would particularly urge you to read Roy’s The God of Small Things and Conrad’s Heart of Darkness prior to arriving at the university in September.

  • Heart of DarknessArundhati Roy, The God of Small Things (London: Harper Perennial, 2004)
  • Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness and Other Tales, ed. by Cedric Watts (Oxford World’s Classics, 2008)
  • Robert Browning, Selected Poems, ed. by Daniel Karlin (London: Penguin Classics, 2000)
  • Christina Rossetti, Selected Poems, ed. by Alison Chapman (London: Penguin Classics, 2008)
  • Virginia Woolf, Mrs Dalloway, ed. by David Bradshaw (Oxford World’s Classics, 2008)
  • James Joyce, Dubliners, ed. by Jeri Johnson (Oxford World’s Classics, 2008)

Literary Aesthetics before 1800 (semester 2)

These are the books with which you’ll work in the Semester 2 module, Literary Aesthetics before 1800. If, as we hope is the case, you’re keen to get ahead with the reading, then we’d invite you to explore the huge range of material that they offer, perhaps concentrating on the opening and ending of the Malory; on four plays, Dr Faustus, The Spanish Tragedy, The Malcontent and The Changeling from the Renaissance Drama anthology; and on the poetry of Johnson, Pope, Burns and Leapor from Eighteenth-Century Poetry. What matters above all is that you start that exploration, and follow your interests: we’ll look forward to sharing ours with you when the module starts.

These, then, are the three books that you’ll need to buy for Semester 2:

  • Le Morte DarthurStephen H.A. Shepherd, ed., Le Morte Darthur (New York: W.W. Norton, 2004)
  • Arthur F. Kinney, ed., Renaissance Drama: An Anthology of Plays and Entertainments, 2nd edn (Oxford: Blackwell, 2005)
  • David Fairer and Christine Gerrard, eds, Eighteenth-Century Poetry: An Annotated Anthology, 2nd edn (Oxford: Blackwell, 2004).

Please do email any questions to the module convenor, Dr Tom Lockwood. His email address is: t.e.lockwood@bham.ac.uk.

Critical Practice (semester 1)

In the first semester you will take our ‘Critical Practice’ module as well as ‘Literary Aesthetics after 1800’. Reading material for this module will be provided throughout the semester but there is one text that you should buy in advance. This is:

  • Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own and Three Guineas, ed. Morag Shiach (Oxford World’s Classics, 2008).

A Room of One's OwnA more extensive list of secondary reading will be made available to you at the beginning of the course and will include print and electronic resources accessible via the University Library. In the meantime, the following critical studies can serve to introduce you to the kinds of literary criticism you will encounter on the module.

  • Julie Mullaney, Arundhati Roy's 'The God of Small Things' (New York and London: Continuum, 2002).
  • Alex Tickell, Arundhati Roy's 'The God of Small Things' (London and New York: Routledge, 2007).
  • John G. Peters, The Cambridge Introduction to Joseph Conrad (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006).
  • Richard Cronin, Alison Chapman, and Anthony H. Harrison, eds, A Companion to Victorian Poetry (Oxford: Blackwell, 2007).
  • Linda K. Hughes, The Cambridge Introduction to Victorian Poetry (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010).
  • Gillian Beer, Virginia Woolf: The Common Ground (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1996).
  • Hermione Lee, Virginia Woolf (London: Vintage, 1996).
  • Laura Marcus, Virginia Woolf: Writers and their Work (Tavistock: Northcote House Publishers, 1997).

Language for Literature

This introductory module supports and develops students' knowledge and understanding of the nature of the English language, linking this awareness to their study of literary texts. A principal goal is to provide students with tools which they can apply in the exploration of language in literature. Topics will include: the sound system of English; basic grammatical structure and terminology; vocabulary and the English lexicon; historical change (development of the English language); register variation; new modes of communication (including computer-mediated interaction); multimodal and visual analysis.

We’ll begin the module by looking at the sounds of English, in everyday speech and in literature, considering, for example, accent, metre, rhyme, onomatopoeia. 

The Stories of EnglishA very good and very accessible introductory book to read before staring the module is:

  • David Crystal, The Stories of English (London: Penguin, 2005).

Recommended texts for the module itself are:

  • R. Carter, A. Goddard, D. Reah, K. Sanger and M. Bowring, Working with Texts: a Core Book for Language Analysis (London: Routledge, 1997/2001/2008).
  • L. Jeffries, Discovering Language: the Structure of Modern English (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006).
  • P. Simpson, Stylistics: A Resource Book for Students (London: Routledge, 2004).

The first of these – Carter et al – will be the one that we rely on most, and it is available electronically through the university library. Many other readings, from a variety of sources, will be made available on the module virtual learning environment as we go.

Landmarks in European Literature (optional)

  • Death in VeniceDante Alighieri, Inferno, trans. J. D. Sinclair (Oxford University Press, 1981).
  • Three Plays by Pedro Calderón de la Barca, adapted by Adrian Mitchell and John Barton (Bath:Absolute Classics, 1990). [ The Mayor of Zalamea, Life's a Dream, The Great Theatre of the World].
  • Choderlos de Laclos, Les liaisons dangereuses, trans. Douglas Parmée, introduction by David Coward (Oxford: Oxford University Press (World's Classics), 2008).
  • Thomas Mann, Death in Venice & Other Stories, trans. David Luke (London: Vintage, 1998), pp. 195-267.
  • Thomas Mann, Mario and the Magician & Other Stories, trans. H. T. Lowe-Porter (London: Vintage, 2000), pp. 113-157.

Writing the Region (optional)

This module offers a chance to read and discuss  literature written in, around and about Birmingham and the West Midlands, asking questions about how region affects writing, and how writing has described the region. We’ll also be inviting you to go on some trips to museums and other locations to get to know the city and the surrounding area and encouraging you to attend local literary events as well.  

In the first semester, we will be looking at Birmingham itself, and the ways in which it has been portrayed in novels, poems and drama of the twentieth century. In the second semester, we will examine the region more widely in a broader historical context. Access will be provided to much of the poetry we look at during the module, and you will often be able to find second hand versions of the texts for less. In some cases (e.g. for Clayhanger) you can get a Kindle version for free!

Key texts to begin reading:

  • Henry Green, Living in Loving, Living, Party Going (London: Vintage, 2005)
  • Jonathan Coe, The Rotters’ Club (London: Penguin, 2002)
  • Arnold Bennett, Clayhanger (Kelly Bray: House of Stratus, 2008)

Please email any queries about this module to Dr Philippa Semper (p.semper@bham.ac.uk), who will be happy to help.