DEL newsletter December 2021

University Closed Dates:

Over the winter break, the University will be closed from Friday 24th December 2021, re-opening again on Tuesday 4th January 2022. Most University staff and services will not be available during this period, and Student Services itself will also be closed on 23rd December. However, if you are in one of the University’s halls of residence, the Halls Hotline will be open 24/7, including Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Get in touch by calling 0800 029 1984, or by email at

What’s On in Reading: Festive Edition

Here are some fun things to try this festive season with flatmates and friends!

Reading Twilight Trail 2021

3 – 31 December

Forbury Gardens

‘The Twilight Trail is back – bigger, better and biscuitier! The festive light trail made its debut in Reading last year, and unfortunately had to cut its run short due to the Coronavirus Pandemic. This year, the Twilight Trail: Biscuit Town returns to Reading’s stunning Abbey Ruins and Forbury Gardens from 3-31 December 2021 with a biscuit-themed trail to celebrate Reading’s link with the world-famous Huntley and Palmers biscuit factory.

Tickets from £8. Purchase here:

A Christmas Carol

3 – 31 December

Reading Rep Theatre

‘Reading Rep Theatre presents the original Christmas tale, as it finds its perfect home on the cobbled streets of Reading. Step back in time with your favourite characters in this magical world premiere by Beth Flintoff. A festive and magical spectacle.’

Tickets from £14. Purchase here:

Beauty and the Beast – Pantomime!

4 Dec – 3 Jan


‘Beauty and the Beast has all the ingredients for a magical trip to the theatre, with hilarious slapstick humour, plenty of audience interaction and marvellous musical numbers that you will be singing for days afterwards, all in one magical show that is suitable for everyone to enjoy whether they are 3 or 103!

Tickets from £15. Purchase here:

Festive Recipes

Fancy trying some festive food and drinks with your flatmates? Here are some you can try!

Clementine Mock Mojito

Serves 1


1 clementine

½ tsp demerara sugar

1 lemon wedge, chopped


small handful of mint, woody stalks removed

a few drops of orange blossom water

sparkling water, to top up



Juice half the clementine and chop the other half into small pieces. Pour the juice into a glass and stir in the sugar. Tip in the chopped clementine and lemon, then crush using a muddler.


Add a handful of ice, the mint and orange blossom. Top up slowly with sparkling water.

Christmas Crinkle Cookies

Makes 30


60g cocoa powder, sieved

200g caster sugar

60ml vegetable oil

2 large eggs

180g plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

2 oranges, zested

2 tsp mixed spice

1 tsp cinnamon

50g icing sugar



Mix the cocoa, caster sugar and oil together. Add the eggs one at a time, whisking until fully combined.


Combine the flour, baking powder, orange zest, mixed spice, cinnamon and a pinch of salt in a separate bowl, then add to the cocoa mixture and mix until a soft dough forms. If it feels too soft, put in the fridge to chill for 1 hr.


Heat the oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5 and tip the icing sugar into a shallow dish. Roll heaped teaspoons of the dough into balls (about 20g each), then roll in the icing sugar to coat. Put the balls on one large or two medium baking trays lined with baking parchment, ensuring they’re evenly spaced apart.


Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 10 mins, then transfer to a wire rack to cool – they will firm up as they cool, but still be fudgy in the centre. Will keep for up to four days in an airtight container.

12 Days of Winter Poems

Thomas Hardy, ‘The Darkling Thrush’

Emily Dickinson, ‘It sifts from leaden sieves’

John Donne, ‘A Nocturnal upon St Lucy’s Day’

R.S. Thomas ‘The Coming’

Rita Dove, ‘November for Beginners’

Wilfred Owen, ‘Winter Song’

Robert Burns, ‘Up in the Morning Early’

Anon, ‘Miri it is’ (Merry it is)

John Clare, ‘Winter Fields’

Langston Hughes, ‘Winter Moon’

William Blake, ‘To Winter’

Patrick Kavanagh, ‘In Winter’

Vacation Reading Recommendation

Ruby Red Trilogy by Kerstin Gier probably because it is easy to read but super capturing at the same time. It’s one of these book series where you feel just a little gutted after it’s over.”

– Luzie, Part 3 English Literature

Normal People by Sally Rooney would be my recommendation. It’s heart-warming and a little heart breaking all at the same time, but it truly is a wonderfully written book.”

– Millie, Part 3 English Literature

The Greatness of The Muppet Christmas Carol

I am not an expert in Victorian literature, but I think The Muppet Christmas Carol is a perfect adaptation of Dickens’ Christmas story.

One sign of the effectiveness of this update is the way that the Muppet dialogue and Dickens’ work so well together that it is sometimes hard to tell them apart. When Scrooge tells the ghost of Marley that he might be a delusion caused by a piece of undigested beef, Scrooge quips that there is ‘more of gravy than of grave about you’. I had to check whether the line was Dickens’: it is. The scriptwriters also knew when to keep Dickens’ prose where it packs an emotional punch. The lines that the Ghost of Christmas Present tell us of Tiny Tim, ‘I see a vacant seat in the poor chimney corner, and a crutch without an owner carefully preserved’ are transposed unaltered into the film. The Muppet and human performers know how to work these lines. Michael Caine brilliantly communicates Scrooge’s growing panic as the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come shows him his death unmourned when he admits ‘the case of this unhappy man might be my own. My life tends that way now’. What The Muppet Christmas Carol has that the novel lacks, of course, are the songs, and although the lyrics do not borrow Dickens’ words so directly, they bring out some of this short work’s dominant ideas. Kermit as Bob Cratchit reminds us of our younger selves’ excitement when ‘there’s only one more sleep till Christmas’, and the song at the film’s close captures what The Christmas Carol asks us to believe of Christmas: ‘The love we found / We carry with us / So we’re never quite alone.’

– Mary Morrissey, DEL

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About English Literature at Reading

The Department of English Literature at Reading has been an internationally recognised centre for research and teaching in English Studies for over a hundred years. Our teaching system, with its emphasis on seminars and tutorial work, encourages our students to discuss ideas with tutors and other students in a relaxed and supportive atmosphere. All of our students have access to dedicated study advisors; our academic placement scheme and 'professional track' programme provide invaluable preparation for subsequent careers.
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