BA (Hons) Creative Writing and English Literature course preparation
To help you feel prepared for your university studies, we’ve gathered together a range of course related activities including suggested reading, useful websites and some great things to do right now. Open the links below to find out more:
You’ll be given lots of information about which textbooks to read and introduced to the University Library, as well as the many ebooks we have for you to access, when you begin your studies in September.
In the meantime, there are a few suggested books you might like to read before starting your degree if you can. We don’t recommend rushing out to buy texts before you arrive but see if you can pick some up second hand, borrow from a library or access online to read over the summer.
- Graham, R., The Road to Somewhere: A Creative Writing Companion (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2004)
- May, S, Doing Creative Writing (London: Routledge, 2007)
These texts set the groundwork for your journey into creative writing – they will rarely, if ever, be used in seminars or workshops but it is expected that you’re well acquainted with these works.
- Neil Astley, Ed., Being Human (Tarset: Bloodaxe Books, 2011)
- Borrowdale, David (ed.) A Girl’s Guide to Fly-Fishing (Reflex Press, 2018)
- Marek, Adam, The Stone Thrower (1st Edition, Comma Press, 2012)
- Graham, Robert et al, How to Write a Short Story (And Think About It) (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2017 – 2nd edition)
- Ball, D., Backwards & Forwards: A Technical Manual for Reading Plays
- Caulfield, A., Writing for Radio: A Practical Guide
- Yorke, J., Into the Woods: A Five Act Journey into Story
These are three pieces of literature that we think you should read if you’re thinking of studying an English degree (and they’re all set text on first year modules – so you’ll get a great head start!)
- Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
- Goblin Market by Christina Rossetti
- A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen
- Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre (Penguin or Oxford edition)
- Rossetti, Christina, Selected Poems (London: Penguin, 2008)
- Arthur Conan Doyle, select stories from The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. For class we read: ‘A Scandal in Bohemia’, ‘The Man With the Twisted Lip’, and ‘The Copper Beeches’
- Henrik Ibsen, ‘A Doll’s House’ in Four Major Plays (Oxford, 2008)
Indicative secondary reading – There’s no need to go out and purchase your own copies of any of the following texts, but they’ll all provide some useful introductory reading if you can find them in libraries:
- Andrew Bennett and Nicholas Royle, This Thing Called Literature (London: Routledge, 2015)
- Andrew Bennett and Nicholas Royle, An Introduction to Literature, Criticism and Theory, 5th edition (London: Routledge, 2016)
- Rhian Williams, The Poetry Toolkit (London: Bloomsbury, 2013)
- Armitage, Simon, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (London: Faber, 2009)
- Bronte, Emily, Wuthering Heights (London: Penguin, 2003)
- Hughes, Ted, Tales from Ovid (London: Faber, 1997)
- Carson, Anne, If Not, Winter: Fragments of Sappho (London: Virago, 2003)
- Chaucer, Geoffrey, The Wife of Bath’s Prologue and Tale (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016)
- Dante, Inferno, transl. Alasdair Gray (Edinburgh: Canongate. 2018)
- Homer, The Odyssey, transl. Robert Fagles (London: Penguin, 2000) – we look at books 9-12 in class
Indicative secondary reading – There’s no need to go out and purchase your own copies of any of the following texts, but they’ll all provide some useful introductory reading if you can find them in libraries
- Alexander, Michael, A History of English Literature. 2nd ed. (Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007)
- Sanders, Andrew, The Short Oxford History of English Literature. 3rd ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2004)
- Widdowson, Peter, The Palgrave Guide to English Literature and its Contexts 1500-2000. (Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004)
- If you’re looking for something to read, have a look at the Poetry Foundation website.
- Make sure to visit the Prospects website if you’re thinking about a future career in English.
- You can also create an online To Do List here.
Read Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre
This text is available in various cheap editions. Even if you’ve studied this text before, please reread over the summer and think about the following questions:
- To what extent does Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre draw on themes and figures from fairy tales and the Gothic to tell the story of Jane’s development from a child into a young woman?
- To what extent is Jane Eyre a politically engaged novel? Find out what you can about what events were going on in Britain and the world in the 1840s.
- How does Brontë represent Jane’s psychological development in the novel?
- How does Brontë represent masculinity through the different characters of Mr Rochester and St John Rivers, among others?
- To what extent is Jane a reliable narrator of her own story?
Other things to try over the summer
- Buy a notebook and use it to record ideas, snippets of overheard conversations, poems, short stories, etc.
- Write in it every day
- Describe one incident in clear prose as though it were a passage from a novel you’d like to read
- Write a haiku
- Start your own blog
- Read the first three issues of The Black Market Review
- Join our Facebook group.
Meet your programme leaders:
Additional ways to prepare
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