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English introductory reading list

Paper 7B, English Literature and its Contexts, 1870 to the present

Supervisor: Dr Priyamvada Gopal

[Students in the first year choose EITHER Paper 7A OR Paper 7B].

Rubric and General Information for the Paper

Candidates for the Prelim. and Tripos versions of this paper should note that they are required to show substantial knowledge of literature before and after 1945. Candidates for the Tripos paper only should note that they are also required to show substantial knowledge of literature of the British Isles (which may include Ireland).

Students may choose to work for the paper in a number of different ways. The kinds of work which may be appropriate include, for example: consideration of critical and theoretical questions raised by the writing of the period; comparisons between authors; the study of particular literary movements or genres; close critical analysis of an individual author’s work; exploration of a variety of literary responses to particular issues or events, which may range from the highly specific (e.g. the suffragette movement; the Spanish Civil War) to the more general (e.g. Victorian Decadence; ideas of empire in the period; the growth of consumerism); study of the relationship between literature and other arts in the period; study of the relationship between British literature and other literatures in English; study of the relationship between the literature of this period and that of earlier periods.

At Churchill, we will be stressing the comparative element in our engagement with this period while at the same time paying close attention to individual texts and their context. Race, class, empire and gender will be salient themes but you are not restricted to discussing these. You will be expected to demonstrate comparative ability along the lines described above in your four essays over the course of the term. You are STRONGLY encouraged to start reading beyond this prescribed list using the Faculty’s reading list as a guide. You should also ensure that you have read at least one history of the period before you come up at the start of Michaelmas Term. You will also bring an essay with you for the second class: I will give you essay questions in the first session. Suggested complementary readings are given in square brackets. For the main text, you should use the recommended edition so that we can all be on the same page, as it were, during classes.

All classes are at 2pm on Wednesdays in SR25, Faculty of English.


Week 1:

Week 2:

Week 3:

Week 4:


Week 6:

Week 7:

Week 8:

Some Recommended Histories

  • Bradbury, Malcolm, The Social Context of Modern English Literature (Blackwell, 1971)
  • Edward Said Culture and Imperialism (Vintage,1994)
  • Purvis, June, ed., Women’s History: Britain 1850-1945 : An Introduction (Routledge, 1995)
  • Felski, Rita, The Gender of Modernity (Harvard University Press, 1995)
  • Kiberd, Declan, Inventing Ireland (Cape, 1995)

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