School of English

Reading List (2017-18)

Reading Lists for Undergraduate Courses

Single honour students will take all four of the core modules, whereas Joint honours students will choose only three from:

  • Q31103 Language and Context
  • Q31314 Studying Literature
  • Q31207 Beginnings of English
  • Q31501 Drama, Theatre, Performance

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Q31103 Language and Context

Although the modules in English Language and Applied Linguistics are not themselves modules in Linguistics, they draw on some of the insights of Linguistics in their description of English.

Reading List

The core textbook for the module will be:

  • Fasold, R. W., & Connor-Linton, J. (Eds.). (2014). An introduction to language and linguistics. Cambridge University Press. Second Edition

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Q31314 Studying Literature

You will be studying a range of genres over the whole year: novels, poetry, prose and drama. Given their length, it would be extremely helpful to read some of the novels before you join us in September.

Reading List

Given the length of some of the texts, it would be extremely helpful to get ahead with the reading before you join us in September.

Please note:

  • Recommended editions are generally best because they have reliably edited text and helpful introductions and notes.
  • Other editions are acceptable if cost is an issue: the most important thing is to have read the set text for the seminars each week.
  • You are very much discouraged from using Kindle, or any other electronic reading device. The study of literature requires direct experience of the material text, granting you both a sense of the words on the page, as well as the facility to refer easily between sections of text that are often far apart. If you have your own hard copy, then you should also get into the habit of ‘reading with a pencil’, marking passages and textual features to allow quick identification and retrieval for seminar work, essay writing and exam revision. Kindle will only hamper you in these activities, and it will affect the quality of your work.

Texts to read in advance if you want to be well-prepared for the module are (in order of when you are likely to work on them during the first semester):

  • William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night 
    The Arden or Oxford editions are both recommended, though other editions are useable, if they have a set of textual notes and glosses.
  • John Milton’s Paradise Lost

    Recommended editions are by Stephen Orgel and Jonathan Goldberg, eds. (Oxford: Oxford World’s Classics, 2008); or, John Leonard, ed. (London: Penguin, 2003).

  • Aphra Behn's Oroonoko 
    Recommended editions are by Janet Todd, ed. (Harmondsworth: Penguin
    Classics, 2003); or Paul Salzman, ed. (Oxford: Oxford World’s Classics, 2009(Penguin or Oxford World’s Classics are good editions)
  • Alexander Pope's Rape of the Lock

    Download the poem as an e-text from a trusted website and print it out for use in seminars, or use any good edition of Pope or an anthology containing the poem.

  • William Wordsworth's and Samuel Taylor Coleridge's Lyrical Ballads
    Preferably, obtain Nicholas Roe’s edition (London: Routledge Classics, 2005); also acceptable are Michael Schmidt, ed. (London: Penguin Classics, 2006); or Fiona Stafford, ed. (Oxford: Oxford World’s Classics, 2013). An excellent digital edition that allows you to view images of Romantic period editions of Lyrical Ballads and to make comparison between them is Bruce Graver and Ron Tetreault, eds., Lyrical Ballads: An Electronic Scholarly Edition, available at:
  • William Blake's Songs of Innocence and Experience

    Ideally, you should read an edition that includes both words and images as originally intended by Blake. You can do this in two ways:

      • The William Blake Archive: you need to ensure that you access copy Z of Songs of Innocence and Experience in order to have the right poems, in the right order, and with the right colouring. The direct link is:
        If this link does not work, then search via ‘’. There is also a textual transcription for each plate.
      • Alternatively, you can buy the book: Songs of Innocence and Experience, ed. Geoffrey Keynes (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1970). New as well as second-hand copies can be found.

  • Charlotte Dacre's Zofloya
    The recommended edition is by Adriana Craciun, ed. (Peterborough, Ontario: Broadview Press, 1997). However, there are now several paper and electronic editions available, and you are welcome to consult any of these provided they are published by a reputable publisher or electronic provider (e.g. if you can access them through the e-Library Gateway).

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Q31207 Beginnings of English

This core module will introduce you to Old English, Old Norse and Middle English literature, language and culture. Roughly speaking, Old English literature was composed before the Norman Conquest (1066), and Middle English literature between c.1100 and c.1500. Most Old Norse literature survives in written copies from the twelfth, thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, but is often based on earlier sources.

Reading List

Most of the readings for this module will be provided electronically through ‘Moodle’ when you arrive on Campus in September. Your seminars and lectures will give you all the support you need to understand the languages and historical contexts of the thousand or so years which the module covers!

You will find it useful to buy one book before you arrive, which will be the basis for the first-year module and will also be used in some second- and third-year module options. This is:

  • Stephen Greenblatt, et al. eds, The Norton Anthology of English Literature: The Middle Ages, Volume A (W.W. Norton and Co., 2012)

If you start reading some of the set texts over the summer it will help you stay on top of your studies in the busy semesters of the academic year. In the Norton Anthology you will find the Anglo-Saxon poems Beowulf and Judith (in translation) and from the Middle English Period, Geoffrey Chaucer’s Miller’s Tale and John Gower’s ‘Tale of Tereus’ from Confessio Amantis. If you are interested in reading around the subject in advance, you will also find the following titles useful (though you are not expected to purchase these):

  • Peter S. Baker, Introduction to Old English (Blackwell, 2003)
  • Hugh Magennis, The Cambridge Introduction to Anglo-Saxon Literature. (Cambridge University Press, 2011)
  • Heather O'Donoghue, Old Norse-Icelandic Literature: A Short Introduction (Blackwell, 2004)
  • Thorlac Turville-Petre, Reading Middle English Literature (Blackwell, 2006)

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Q31501 Drama, Theatre, Performance

This module explores the extraordinary variety of drama in the Western dramatic tradition. You will examine dramatic texts in relation to their historical context, moving from the theatre of ancient Greece, English medieval drama, the theatre of Shakespeare and his contemporaries, the Restoration stage, to nineteenth-century naturalism.

Reading List

Over the course of the year on the module, you will study 10 plays, including Medea (Euripides), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Shakespeare), The Rover (Behn) and A Doll’s House (Ibsen).

When you arrive we will give you the primary texts (either in a reader or via access to online resources), along with suggestions for a key theoretical reading each week.

You will find it useful to have a copy of the following book for reference: 

  • Lennard, J & Luckhurst, M, The Drama Handbook: A Guide to Reading Plays (Oxford University Press, 2003)

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Students on Q300 English, Q392 English Language and Literature, and Q3W8 English with Creative Writing will also take the following core module:

Q31401 Academic Community

This is a core module for Single Honours students. There is no specific reading in preparation for this module, but it would be helpful to look at the University resources on Studying Effectively which will introduce you to a range of key skills:

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Students on Q300 English and Q392 English Language and Literature will also be able to choose from the following optional modules:

Q31701 Creative Writing Practice

(Also a core module for students on English with Creative Writing)

The module introduces you to the process of writing drama, poetry and fiction by engaging in a variety of forms of reading, writing and performance practice. Activities include creative and analytical responses to published writing, writing exercises in poetry, drama and fiction, and revision of work written over the course of the module.

Reading List

Please not that this is a team taught module, so additional titles may be forthcoming during the course of the year.

Required Reading (please buy)

  • No editor given. The Forward Book of Poetry, 2018. London: Faber/Forward 2017.
    [This title will be released on 7 September 2017]
  • Kleon, Austin. Show Your Work. New York: Workman/Algonquin, 2014. 
  • Royle, Nicholas (ed.) Best British Short Stories 2017. London: Salt, 2017
  • Carlson, Ron. Ron Carlson Writes a Story. Minneapolis: Graywolf, 2007.

Highly recommended but not required

  • Prose, Francine. Reading Like a Writer. London: Harper, 2007.

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Q3107S The Viking World

This module offers an introduction to the period 700-1200 in which Viking raiders and settlers had a large and lasting impact on Europe and especially the British Isles. The module is team-taught between the School of English and the Schools of History and Archaeology. No previous knowledge of history or archaeology is necessary.

Reading List

Requited reading:

  • Julian D. Richards, The Vikings. A Very Short Introduction, Oxford University Press, 2005

  • Jayne Carroll, Stephen H. Harrison and Gareth Williams, The Vikings in Britain and Ireland, British Museum Press, 2014.

Recommended reading:

  • Stefan Brink, with Neil Price, eds, The Viking World, Routledge, 2008.
  • James Graham-Campbell, The Viking World, Frances Lincoln, 2013.
  • James Graham-Campbell, Viking Art, Thames and Hudson, 2013.
  • Richard Hall, Exploring the World of the Vikings,Thames & Hudson, 2007.
  • Katherine Holman, The Northern Conquest. Vikings in Britain and Ireland, Signal, 2007.
  • Judith Jesch, Women in the Viking Age, Boydell, 1991.
  • Rory McTurk, ed., A Companion to Old Norse-Icelandic Literature and Culture, Blackwell, 2005.
  • Heather O’Donoghue, Old Norse-Icelandic Literature. A Short Introduction, Blackwell, 2004.
  • R.I. Page, Runes, British Museum Press, 1987.
  • R.I. Page, Norse Myths, British Museum Press, 1990.
  • Else Roesdahl, The Vikings, Penguin, 1998.

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Q3108S Regional Writers

This module introduces you to the work of selected regional writers, including Nottinghamshire writers (e.g. DH Lawrence), considering how their work engages with regional landscapes, the literary and industrial heritage of their area, and other distinctive cultural elements such as dialect.

Reading List

Please purchase and read the following texts:

  • Thomas Hardy, Tess of the D’Urbervilles (any edition)
  • Alan Sillitoe, The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner (any edition)
  • Irvine Welsh, Trainspotting (any edition)

Copies of the other texts studied on the module will be made available in a module reader ahead of the Spring semester.


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Q3109S Shakespeare’s Histories: Critical Approaches

This module seeks to explore some of the many reasons as to why Shakespeare is a cultural and literary icon, by focusing on one particular genre of drama - the history plays - which was hugely popular in England's commercial playhouses in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries.

Reading List

Students interested in taking this module may wish to get a head-start by reading the four Shakespeare plays we are studying:

  • Richard II
  • Henry IV Part 1
  • Henry IV Part 2
  • Henry V

Good editions include the Arden Shakespeare, Oxford Shakespeare or New Cambridge Shakespeare.


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General Reading for English

The following book contains useful advice on reading, note-taking and writing essays:

  • E. Chambers and A. Northledge, The Arts Good Study Guide, 2nd edition (Milton Keynes: Open University Worldwide, 2008).

Although the following are not studied on any particular module, reading them and making yourself familiar with their contents will make your study of English literature and language much more rewarding.

Academic staff will assume that you are familiar with this material, and it will be your responsibility to chase up references that you don't understand.

  • The Bible, eds. R. Carroll and S. Prickett (Oxford World's Classics, 2008). Begin with the Gospel of Mark, Genesis, Exodus, and Revelation
  • R.L. Green (ed), Tales of Greek Heroes (Harmondsworth: Puffin, 2010)
  • R. L. Green (ed), The Tale of Troy (Harmondsworth: Puffin, 1994)
  • N. Davies, The Isles: A History (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2000)

You would also find it useful to have a copy of:

  • G. Taylor, J. Jowett et al (eds), William Shakespeare: The Complete Works, 2nd edition (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005)

You might also find it useful to own a map of Great Britain and Ireland.

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Further Reading for English literature

To prepare for studying literature at university level, you might find ONE of the following useful:

  • R. Eaglestone, Doing English: A Guide for Literature Students, 3rd edition (London: Routledge, 2009)
  • A. Bennett and N. Royle, An Introduction to Literature, Criticism and Theory, 5th edition (Harlow: Pearson, 2016)

You should read at least ONE general history of English literature. For example, you might consider reading one of the following:

  • M. Alexander, A History of English Literature 3rd Edition (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 2013)
  • R. Carter and J. McRae, The Routledge History of Literature in English: Britain and Ireland, 3rd edition (London: Routledge, 2016). This text also focuses on language issues.
  • P. Poplawski, ed., English Literature in Context (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007)
  • A. Sanders, The Short Oxford History of English Literature, 3rd edition (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004)

You might find it helpful to read an introduction to literary theory. For example:

  • J. Culler, Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction, 2nd edition (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011)


  • T. Eagleton, Literary Theory: An Introduction, 25th anniversary edition (Oxford: Blackwell, 2008)

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Further Reading for English language

To prepare for studying English language at university level, you might find one of the following useful:

  • D. Crystal, Making Sense of Grammar (Harlow: Longman, 2004. ISBN 978-0582848634)
  • G. Yule, The Study of Language, 5th edition (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014)
  • R.L. Trask, Language: The Basics, 2nd edition (Abingdon: Routledge, 2004)
  • D. Crystal, How Language Works: How Babies Babble, Words Change Meaning and Languages Live or Die (London: Penguin, 2007. ISBN 978-0141015521)

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Further Reading for Drama and performance

You will find it useful to have an understanding of some of the key ideas for drama and performance. The following is a good text to refer to beyond the reading you will be given on the modules:

  • M. Wallis & S. Shepherd, Studying Plays, 3rd edition (London: Bloomsbury Academic;, 2010)


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