BA Courses

2017-18

This page contains extra information about some of the BA courses on which I teach. It is intended to help students to decide about their course choices and to let them know about preparatory reading. The official descriptions of the courses is found on OCASYS and you should look there first. Note that I may update the information given below until teaching begins after which full details will be found on Nestor.

OCASYS entries for my current and future courses.

Last update: 9 May 2017

See Buying Books – this includes details of a discount available on course books from W.W. Norton & Co.

Course Book FAQs explains the formats of The Norton Anthology of English Literature which can otherwise be a bit confusing. The anthology comes in several forms. Although they have identical contents, some of them are easier to handle.

FIRST YEAR

English Literatures from 1550: Periods and Contexts

Semester 2a

book coverThis course introduces a range of writing from different literary periods, giving students a taste of literature produced at different times (it covers literary periods beginning with the Renaissance and ending with recent writing). It draws on English texts written in the UK, Ireland and the US.

The course also introduces students to elements of the Classical and religious background from which authors worked and work.

This course provides an overview of English literature after 1550 so it is useful when students of English have to choose courses later on because it supplies them with a taste of literature written in different times. It also gives non-English Lit. students a working background in English literature from the seventeenth century to the present.

Teaching

The course will be taught over seven weeks. There will be a weekly lecture (1 hour) and a weekly seminar (3 hours). The course is co-taught with another member of staff.

Books

See the booklist list on OCASYS. You must get the prescribed edition of Shakespeare’s Hamlet (see pictures above) as it has additional material and criticism that will be used in classes. This edition is available with two different covers but their contents are identical.

The main course textbook is: Stephen Greenblatt et al. eds. The Norton Anthology of English Literature. 9th edition. New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 2012. This textbook is used in other departmental courses so it is worth buying if you intend to study English. For more about this textbook see Course Book FAQs .

Some Advance Reading

  • William Shakespeare, Hamlet
  • Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness in The Norton Anthology
  • John Keats, ‘On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer’, ‘Ode on a Grecian Urn’ in The Norton Anthology
  • Hanif Kureishi, ‘My Son, the Fanatic’ in The Norton Anthology

Media

These are links to online material which will help you prepare for the course.

Podcast of lecture on Hamlet by Emma Smith (Oxford)

Podcasts from the BBC Radio 4 Series In Our Time:

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SECOND YEAR

Shakespeare and Early Modern Literature

Semester 1a (i.e. weeks 1-10)

The course covers the period from the late sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries. It aims to expose students to the varied kinds of writing that were practiced. It looks at the text in the light of the historical and cultural background of the period (e.g. the Renaissance, the Reformation, the English Civil War) and at the conventions used by dramatists and poets. The texts on the course vary from pious meditations on death to erotic comic verse. The course will include poetry by Shakespeare, John Donne, and John Milton that ranges over topics such as love, sex, religion, and politics.

Teaching

The course will be taught over seven weeks. There will be a weekly lecture (1 hour) and a weekly seminar (3 hours). I teach all of the course.

Course Texts

The details of the texts you should own are given on OCASYS. The relevant edition of the Norton Anthology can sometimes be hard to determine as it is available in several formats. The course text will be parts B and C (or vol. 1) of Stephen Greenblatt et al. eds. The Norton Anthology of English Literature. 9th edition. New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 2012.) Students who took literature courses in our department in year 1 will already have these.

Advance Reading

It is a big help to get some of the reading out of the way in advance of the start of the course. You might look at some of the following:

  • Marlowe’s Dr Faustus (in The Norton Anthology); Shakespeare’s King Lear (in the Norton) and The Merchant of Venice. The Merchant of Venice is available in a good film version of the play starring Al Pacino (dir. M. Radford, 2004) and it would be very worthwhile looking at it as it will make the text much easier to read.
  • a brief history of England between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries.

Media

These are links to online material which will help you prepare for the course:

Podcasts from the BBC Radio 4 Series In Our Time:

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