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Explorations in Literature EN1021

This course introduces a wide range of works from the literary canon, from ancient Greek texts in translation to the contemporary. It covers the major genres and embodies significant interventions or influences in literary history.

The emphasis is on reading primary texts voraciously and discovering - or rediscovering - diverse writers and cultures, so that you can make informed choices from more specialised courses later in their programme.

Not being limited to a period, genre or single approach, the course cultivates difference and chronological sweep; it aims to challenge and surprise, as rewarding ‘exploration’ should.

Learning outcomes

If you complete the course successfully, you should now:

  • Have read several influential works from the literary canon.
  • Be aware of the cultural diversity that has informed and continues to inform English literature.
  • Understand how literary genres and forms yield experimentation as well as continuities.
  • Recognise the historicity as well as continuing accessibility of texts from diverse backgrounds.
  • Have improved your historical overview of literature by studying primary texts in ways that will orientate you towards other specialised courses in the degree.
  • Have improved basic skills in written expression and critical analysis.
  • Be able to reflect on 'exploration' of and within texts.

Essential Reading

  • Homer, The Odyssey.
  • Sophocles, Antigone.
  • Ovid, Metamorphoses.
  • Dante, The Inferno.
  • Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales: The Wife of Bath’s Prologue and Tale.
  • Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.
  • William Shakespeare, Hamlet.
  • Metaphysical Poetry: John Donne, Andrew Marvell, Thomas Carew.
  • John Milton, Paradise Lost, Books 1 and 2.
  • Alexander Pope, The Rape of the Lock.
  • Henry Fielding, Joseph Andrews.
  • Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.
  • Jane Austen, Emma.
  • Charles Dickens, Great Expectations.
  • August Strindberg, Miss Julie.
  • Thomas Hardy, Jude the Obscure.
  • James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.
  • T.S. Eliot, Prufrock and Other Observations.
  • Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot.
  • Leonora Carrington, The Hearing Trumpet.
  • Margaret Atwood, The Penelopiad.
  • Virginia Woolf, Mrs Dalloway.

Taster study material