One of our students, Chloe DeLulington, writes:
The ABC of why studying English Literature at Reading is Awesome
- Academic Excellence. Perhaps a bit of a boring one to start with, and definitely the sort of thing most university prospectuses will tempt you with- but it begins with A, and it really is important! Unlike your teachers at school, the staff teaching you at the University of Reading will also be researchers in various areas in the department, meaning that not only will they know their stuff but they’ll probably be far more enthusiastic about sharing their knowledge with you than you would like them to be in a 9am lecture on a Monday! It means you really benefit from the first-hand experience of people whose passion for their subject area goes beyond a passing general interest and right down into the nitty-gritty (and sometime surreal) aspects of English Literature. It’s the academic equivalent of getting your water direct from the spring, straight from the horse’s mouth, and all those other lovely analogies, and marks a definite step up from the A-Level experience.
- Books! The obvious one, and presumably a significant part of why you considered an English Literature degree in the first place. The important thing to realise about this course is that you can pretty much study literature of any style or time period, either sticking to what you know you like or launching yourself bravely into a module you’ve never even thought about before. Although all Part 1 students take the same core modules, you still have optional choice modules too, and once you reach Part 2 there are a whole host of topics vying for your attention. The menu expands yet further in Part 3! Part 1 gives everyone the same grounding, a taster of latter parts of the degree, and from there you can work out what you want to pursue later; for example, from the Genre & Context module in my first year, I realised I was keen on Victorian Literature, and threw myself into the corresponding Part 2 module with all the enthusiasm of the Artful Dodger in a room of unfastened purses! Conversely, if you don’t like something in Part 1, you aren’t compelled to go back to it in Parts 2 & 3; there are more than enough other texts for your perusal!
C- Chats about literature! Or, as they’re formally called, seminars. A significant difference between A-Level and degree is that your teaching is split between lectures- where the lecturer talks AT you – and seminars- where you sit and discuss the text from the lecture with a member of staff and other students. It’s a chance to make the most of the knowledge bubbling away in the heads of your lecturers, voice your own opinions, and hopefully pal up with people on your course as well. Seminars can be great fun if you’re bit of a chronic chatterbox, like me, and if you’re not, don’t worry: the seminar leader will start off the discussion, and awkward silences are minimal, especially if you’ve already done some palling-up and are comfortable with others in your group! If there’s something that baffled you in the lecture, say so. If there’s a particularly juicy bit in the text that you liked, say so. Make the most of seminars; they’re actually quite fun.