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Module Reading List

Foundations of English Studies, 2021/22, Semester 1
Dr Nicholas Ray
Tutor information is taken from the Module Catalogue

Set text

Bennett, Andrew, and Nicholas Royle, An Introduction to Literature, Criticism and Theory, 5th edn (Abingdon: Routledge, 2016)  

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Suggested further reading

The set text above and the module coursebook contain (or link to) all the main compulsory reading for the module. Your seminar tutor may set you additional reading, and lecturers and tutors will refer to other material that you might choose to read. This list is a selection of recommended works that are relevant to the ideas and themes that you will encounter on Foundations. You are encouraged to explore the texts on the list - and to go beyond it wherever your curiosity takes you.

No-one can read everything. Everyone, including your lecturers and tutors, sometimes feels intimidated by all the books they haven't read. But reading widely and thoughtfully is fundamental to English studies, and the more you can extend the range of your studies through independent reading, the more intellectually rewarding your time at university will be. With some exceptions, this list focuses on English literature, rather than other branches of English studies like creative writing, English language or theatre. If you're also studying one of those other branches of 'English,' you'll be given other module reading lists to guide you.


Many introductory guides to literature and literary theory are available. The texts in this section include a handful of the best works in that genre, together with some other suggested starting points. They are all stimulating, provocative and entertaining reads that should enrich your thinking about what it means to be starting on an English degree.

Barry, Peter, Beginning Theory: An Introduction to Literary and Cultural Theory, 3rd edn (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2009)

Belsey, Catherine, Criticism ISBN: 9781781254509 paperback; 9781782831570 ebook (London: Profile, 2016)

Bennett, Andrew, and Nicholas Royle, This thing called literature : reading, thinking, writing ISBN: 9781408254011 (pbk.) : £14.99; 9781317698289 (ePub ebook) : £14.99; 9781138019256 (hbk.) : £75.00; 9781317698296 (PDF ebook) : £14.99; 9781317698272 (Mobipocket ebook) : £14.99; 9781315779041 (ebk) (London: Routledge, 2015)

Collini, Stefan, What are universities for? ISBN: 9781846144820 (pbk.) : £9.99; 1846144825 (pbk.) : £9.99 (London: Penguin, 2012)

Culler, Jonathan, Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction, 2nd edn (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011)

Eagleton, Terry, Literary Theory: An Introduction, 2nd edn (Oxford: Blackwell, 1996)

Lodge, David, Nice Work (London: Penguin, 1989)

Wilde, Oscar, ‘The Critic as Artist’, first published in 1891 and many times reprinted, for instance in The artist as critic : critical writings of Oscar Wilde ISBN: 0491001045, ed. by Richard Ellman (London: Allen, 1970), pp. 341-407


Studying English

These are texts that offer orientation, guidance, and practical advice. They include lucid guides to what’s expected from English students at university, authoritative overviews of ‘English literature’, and reference books that will elucidate words, concepts and allusions that might otherwise be mystifying. These are especially useful books to have readily to hand, so you might consider buying one or two of them.

Baldick, Chris, The Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms, 3rd edn (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008)

Birch, Dinah, ed., The Oxford Companion to English Literature, 7th edn (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009)

Cavanagh, Dermot, and others, eds, The Edinburgh Introduction to Studying English Literature (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2010)

Chantler, Ashley, and David Higgins, eds, Studying English literature ISBN: 9780826497505 (pbk.); 9780826497499 (hbk.) (London: Continuum, 2010)

Eaglestone, Robert, Doing English : a guide for literature students ISBN: 041519136X (pbk); 0415191351 (London: Routledge, 2000)

Macey, David, The Penguin dictionary of critical theory ISBN: 0140513698 (pbk) (London: Penguin, 2001)

MHRA style guide : a handbook for authors, editors, and writers of theses. ISBN: 9780947623760 (pbk.); 0947623760 (pbk.), 2nd edn (London: Modern Humanities Research Association, 2008)

Moon, Jennifer, Critical Thinking: An Exploration of Theory and Practice (London: Routledge, 2008)

Moran, Joe, First you write a sentence : a primer for writing, reading and life ISBN: 9780241978498: The Elements of Reading, Writing... and Life (London: Viking, 2018)

Warburton, Nigel, The Basics of Essay Writing (London: Routledge, 2007)

Young, Tory, Studying English literature : a practical guide ISBN: 9780521690140 (pbk.); 9780521869812 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008)


Book Series

Many of the best guides to specific topics in English studies are published as part of long-running series. You will soon get used to seeing those series on the library shelves, and in general the books in those series can be recommended as reliable and accessible guides. The most important ones to look out for are (1) the New Critical Idiom series (Routledge), which contains in-depth introductions to specific critical terms, from 'gothic' to 'irony' to 'ecocriticism'; (2) the Very Short Introductions series (Oxford University Press), which covers every possible topic, including many related to English studies; (3) the Cambridge Introductions to Literature series (Cambridge University Press), recently launched and generally very good; and (4) the invaluable Cambridge Companions series (Cambridge University Press), which consists of collections of essays by high-profile scholars written specifically for undergraduate students.


English, Literature and Criticism

This is a list - selective to the point of being almost arbitrary - of some especially illuminating and suggestive works about the history and practice of English studies, criticism and literary theory. These texts aren't particularly designed for undergraduate readers, and many of them are challenging because they take various kinds of prior knowledge for granted. But if you would like to dive right in to some advanced thinking about thoretical approaches to English, they're as good a place as any to start.

Abrams, M. H., 'The Transformation of English Studies: 1930 - 1995,' Daedalus. ISSN: 0011-5266, 126 (1997), 105-31

Attridge, Derek, The Singularity of Literature (London: Routledge, 2004)

Bergonzi, Bernard,  Exploding English: Criticism, Theory, Culture (Oxford: Clarendon, 1990)

Best, Sharon, and Stephen Marcus, ‘Surface Reading: An Introduction’, Representations. ISSN: 0734-6018,108 (2009), 1-21

Bhabha, Homi, The location of culture (London: Routledge, 2004)

Butler, Judith, Gender trouble: feminism and the subversion of identity (New York: Routledge, 2006)

Deckard, Sharae, and others, Combined and uneven development : towards a new theory of world-literature ISBN: 9781781381915; 1781381917 (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2015)

Derrida, Jacques, Acts of literature (New York: Routledge, 1992)

Eagleton, Mary, ed. Feminist literary criticism (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011)

Felski, Rita, The limits of critique ISBN: 9780226294032 (pbk.) : £16.00 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015)

Johnson, Barbara, The Barbara Johnson reader : the surprise of otherness ISBN: 9780822354192 paperback; 9780822354031 hardback, ed. by Melissa Feuerstein and others (Durham: Duke University Press, 2014)

Leitch, Vincent B., and others, eds, The Norton anthology of theory and criticism, 3rd edn (New York: Norton, 2018)

Morettio, Franco, Graphs, maps, trees: abstract models for a literary history (London: Verso, 2007)

North, Joseph, Literary criticism: a concise political history (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2017)

Nussbaum, Martha, Not for profit: why democracy needs the humanities, new edn (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2016)

Readings, Bill, The university in ruins ISBN: 0674929527 (alk. paper) (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1997)

Richards, I. A., Principles of literary criticism (London: Routledge  Kegan Paul,1926)

Said, Edward, Culture and imperialism (London: Vintage, 1994)

Sontag, Susan, Against Interpretation and Other Essays (London: Penguin, 2009)

Williams, Raymond, Marxism and literature (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1977)

Woolf, Virginia, Selected essays, ed. by David Bradshaw (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009)

Žižek, Slavoj, The Žižek reader, ed. by Elizabeth Wright and Edmond Wright (Oxford: Blackwell, 1999)

This list was last updated on 14/09/2021