We know you're excited to start your new degree and discover a whole world of new writers and writing. Below are a few texts easily accessible online in case getting to a library or bookshop is difficult at the moment. You definitely don't need to read everything here! You might choose a few to get on with before you join us at Warwick in September. We're really looking forward to meeting you then.
Below are some recommendations for those starting on our English Literature degree this September.
If you want to read some plays, or find out more about studying them, we recommend these:
- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's Faust (Part One)
- William Shakespeare, Measure for Measure
- Lorraine Hansberry, A Raisin in the Sun
- Watch: Royal Court Young Writers’ Toolkit, Episode One (but do please view whole series if interested)
- Ronald Hayman, How to Read a Play (free e-checkout)
Novels and essays
You might want to read Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness , Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, or Natsume Sōseki's Kokoro. Or maybe tackle Middlemarch by Warwickshire Victorian writer George Eliot or Ngugi wa Thiongo's A Grain of Wheat.
We think you'll also like:
- Jane Austen, Emma
- John Sutherland, How to Read a Novel (free e-checkout)
- Ta-Nehisi Coates, Letter to My Son
- David Foster Wallace, list of free stories and essays
We recommend reading the poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
Other poems and readings we think you might like:
- Richard Lovelace, "A Song to Aramathea, that she would Dishevel her hair"
- Linda Hogan, "Trail of Tears: Our Removal"
- Emily Dickinson, “Banish Air from Air”
- Audre Lorde, "Coal"
- How-to essay, Rebecca Hazleton, “The Choice of Constraint”
- How-to essay, Edward Hirsch, “Epic, Drama, Lyric”
- Watch: Jonathan Bate in conversation with Stephen Fry, on reading poetry
English and History
We recommend the following to those starting our English and History degree this year:
- Stephen Dunn, ‘History’, New Yorker 10 March 2008
- Bertolt Brecht, ‘A Worker Reads History’ (‘Fragen eines lesenden Arbeiters’) (1935)
- W.H. Auden, ‘Musée des Beaux Arts’ (1938) and ‘The Fall of Rome’ (1947)
- Natasha Trethewey, 'Enlightenment' (2012)
Novels and short stories
- Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities – core text for History & Textuality (first-year core module)
- Alison Bechdel, Fun Home – core text for History & Textuality
- Octavia Butler, Kindred
- Herman Melville, ‘Benito Cereno’ – core text for Writing History (second-year core module)
- Yale University has a series of Open Yale Course program videos: we recommend David Blight's "The Civil War and Reconstruction Era" and Amy Hungerford's "The American Novel since 1945"; you might also find Epidemics in Western Society since 1600 interesting. You can find the full list here.
- If you're curious about what good the study of history and literature is in the midst of a pandemic, we recommend the podcast Going Viral, hosted by Mark Honigsbaum (City University) and Hannah Mawdsley (Queen Mary's), about the 1918 ‘Spanish’ flu pandemic.
English and Theatre
If you're coming to join our English and Theatre degree, you might want to have a look at John Osborne's 1956 play Look Back in Anger, and Dominic Shellard's critical work British Theatre since the War (Yale University Press, 2000).
You might also enjoy:
- Cyprus Avenue. A dark comedy about the legacy of sectarian violence in Northern Ireland, filmed at the Royal Court Theatre in London. This is a play that we cover on the second-year core module, Drama and Democracy.
- The Complete Plays of Oscar Wilde: we recommend The Importance of Being Earnest, An Ideal Husband, Lady Windermere’s Fan, and Salomé.
Cyprus Avenue on screen, Royal Court Theatre