Another semester, another reading list! I’ve read a couple of posts that are similar to this before and found them really interesting, so today I thought I’d share my uni reading list for this semester with you!
For some context, I’m currently in my second year studying English Literature at the UEA, which is in the UK. We have two semesters a year, and in years 1 & 2 we study 3 modules each semester. In my first year, we had 5 compulsory modules and a free choice one, and I got to study some philosophy, which was pretty cool! This changed in second year, where you get completely free choice over which modules you study. The only requirement is that over the course of second and third year, you study 3 modules which focus on literature that was written pre-1789.
I’m planning on knocking out all of my prerequisites this year so that I can have entirely free choice next year, as in third year we only study 4 modules throughout the year, and the third year options are so exciting I don’t know how I’m going to choose just 4, but I don’t want to be limited! Last semester I studied 17th Century Writing, 18th Century Writing, and The Short Story. While the first two were interesting, I absolutely adored The Short Story module, and even a couple of months later I’m still super hyped about the possibilities of short fiction.
This semester I’m studying Shakespeare, Contemporary Fiction, and Austen & Brontës. Again, Shakespeare is a prerequisite, and so far, it’s not the most exciting of modules. We’re on Week 3 of semester at the moment, and Contemporary Fiction is definitely my favourite! I’m learning so much and having some fantastic discussions.
So, let’s start with that one. Here’s the texts I’m reading for Contemporary Fiction, which were all published in the last 10 years:
- There But For The – Ali Smith
- Hawthorn and Child – Keith Ridgway
- Hot Milk – Deborah Levy
- NW – Zadie Smith
- Harvest – Jim Crace
- Home Fire – Kamila Shamsie
- Pond – Claire-Louise Bennett
- Mr Fox – Helen Oyeyemi
Contemporary fiction isn’t really an area where I can claim any sort of expertise, which is the main reason I took the module, but this list seems to feature a range of authors, themes, and styles.
And Austen and the Brontës:
- Austen & Brontës juvenilia
- Pride & Prejudice – Jane Austen
- The Tenant of Wildfell Hall – Anne Brontë
- Sense & Sensibility – Jane Austen
- Wuthering Heights – Emily Brontë
- Jane Eyre – Charlotte Brontë
- Persuasion – Jane Austen
At first, I was a little frustrated when I saw this list, as I felt it focused on the most popular work by each of the authors. We’re studying almost half of what the authors collectively published, but I wished it featured a couple of their lesser known novels. However, this is the first time I’m reading any of these texts in full, so I’m looking forward to fleshing out my reading.
- Henry V
- Richard III
- Richard II
- A Midsummer’s Night Dream
- Twelfth Night
- Measure For Measure
- The Winter’s Tale
- King Lear
I have a love/hate relationship with Shakespeare. I appreciate what he’s done for the English language, and how his stories have laid the foundations for many authors that came after him, but sometimes I find the texts pretty difficult to grapple, which can sometimes make them tiring to read. I think the module is helping with this but starting with 3 weeks of straight histories has been a little uninspiring.
I hope this post gave a little insight into what an English Literature reading list at university looks like. We have a core text to read for each module each week, and then there’s usually a lot of secondary/further reading around the text that the tutors suggest to us, or we can go and find work on the aspects of the text that interested us the most.
Do the lists look how you expected? Are you surprised by which texts were selected for each module? I’d love to know if readers are coming from an angle where they’ve studied English Literature before, or if this is new to them! If you’re interested in tracking my reading and seeing what I think of these books, check out my Goodreads. I give everything a star rating and usually a short review, even if I don’t write a post inspired by it for this blog.
As always, my Twitter is linked in my header if you wish to stay in touch in between posts, and I hope to see you again next week!