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Joined: 22 Nov 2008
Posts: 2997

Location: Owaka, New Zealand

PostPosted: Sat Jul 13, 2013 10:41 pm    Post subject: University reading and study  Reply with quote

I was at the University Bookshop in Dunedin the other day, and was interested to see the books that seemed to be used for English 101.  I assumed if a book had more than four copies on the shelf it was probably used in the first-year course, though that may not be the case.

At any rate they were these:

Pride and Prejudice, Paul Auster's City of Glass, Everyman and Medieval Miracle Plays, Mansfield Park, The French Lieutenant's Woman, Dubliners, Ulysses, China Men by Maxine Hong Kingston, GB Shaw's John Bull!, Great Expectations, At Swim, Two Birds by Flann O'Brian, Devil on the Cross by Ngugi wa Thiong'o', Canterbury Tales, Heart of Darkness, White Noise, Ragtime by EL Doctorow, Rob Roy (a surprise to me; I don't think we read any Scott at university), Under the Volcano, E = MC2

I was interested to see The French Lieutenant's Woman there - we read that when I was there from 1968 -72, when it must have been very new. Likewise Under the Volcano, probably both in a modern novel paper.  Some of it looks like pretty serious reading -the Flann O'Brien one for instance, Ulysses.  I was in contact with a lecturer at the university who writes for the paper and he said the reading list we had for the holidays was no longer given out automatically, so I suppose people have to read these in termtime.

What would be a typical novel list for first years in a British university? Much the same? or quite different?  (I didn't look at the poetry or plays to any degree. I suppose Canterbury Tales would be poetry perhaps.  And I have put in the Shaw play, perhaps because it's not one I have heard of.)

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Green Jay

Joined: 13 Jan 2009
Posts: 1605

Location: West Sussex

PostPosted: Wed Jul 17, 2013 2:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm probably not the one to reply as my university experience was very long ago.

My first comment before I read to the end, was that I'd heard of "(subject title) 101" in American novels so knew it was a kind of code for basic/introductory course in... Sometimes it's even used as a joke e.g. relationships 101. I did not know it was used anywhere else in the world, took it as the usual (sorry folks) solipsistic US thinking that everyone else's systems are naturally the same as theirs and will be meaningful to worldwide readers/viewers. So interesting that NZ students also have courses called this.

Also, from what I gather (sorry again, most of my knowledge of the USA comes from reading fiction - is this my motto for life, "find it in a book"?!) US university students do much more modular study and put together a programme of often quite unrelated subjects which count towards their degree. Here we will study around our chosen subject and it's pretty unlikely you would do a general introductory course in something quite different. My own children certainly did not do general intro courses in anything beyond their degree subjects.  It may depend on what age university typically starts too, and what age/stage subject specialisation began.  And in literature it would depend on what kind of lit you had chosen to study; I know when I was student it could be European, American or the more traditional Eng Lit. and presumably that has widened out much more now.

This list looks a bit of a dog's breakfast to me. I can't think it is typical of a current uni list here, but for what course anyway? I expect someone can put me right though  Smile . A pity they do not automatically give out a pre-course reading list any more. I remember I had a huge one for the summer before starting, but can't remember what was on it. It did not have any recent contemporary novels, though. I remember feeling quite proud & impressed that they thought I should already have many classic and serious works of all sorts under my belt when I started, and that we were quite capable of reading them. I was terribly let down when Watership Down was on a reading list for one early short course when I got there - I had avoided it as it was a blockbuster, which I always avoided like the plague, whatever the subject of the book. I think this tutor was trying to get us on side by letting us read something popular.

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Joined: 22 Nov 2008
Posts: 2997

Location: Owaka, New Zealand

PostPosted: Wed Jul 17, 2013 9:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Green Jay,

101 was really my shorthand for the first year course which I did at university.  My course was English, History, Latin, French and each of these covered a full year.  You could study just three subjects.  People who studied four might then be accepted for a four-year degree course (BA (Hons) and I could have done this in English or History and chose English.  We then had another year of varied subjects and then two years exclusively English, with 6 papers each year I think.

I see the course for English now requires so many points, and they need to do nine English papers over three years, at least four in Level 300.  They can do more English papers that that if they prefer to that rather than a different subject.  But typically 2 at 100-level, 3 at level 200 and 4 at level 300.  I have put below the books for the literature papers in Year One, but there is also a grammar/writing course and a course on speaking and writing and language in context.  The first year courses don’t attract me too much, but when I look at some of the later ones I think, “Oh, I want to study that too!”

More detail here:

And here is detail about the course:

The books for Year one overview of literature are (which take one classic text and one text transforming those texts):

Hale, J.K. Sonnets of Four Centuries (available from the Print Shop)
Chaucer, Geoffrey. Selections from the Canterbury Tales (available from the Print Shop)
Shakespeare, William. Hamlet (Signet or Folger)
Stoppard, Tom. Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead (Faber)
Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice (Oxford World's Classics)
Austen, Jane and Seth Grahame-Smith. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (Quirk Classics)
Carter, Angela. The Bloody Chamber (Vintage)

and another topic was Controversial Classics and they were:

Wilde, Oscar. The Picture of Dorian Gray
Pound, Ezra. (selections in course reader)
Ginsberg, Allen. Howl (City Lights)
Plath, Sylvia. Ariel (Harper Perennial)
Burns, Robert and Baxter, James K. (selections in course reader)
Hulme, Keri. The bone people
Kelman, James. How Late it Was, How Late
Synge, J.M., Playboy of the Western World (Oxford World Classics)

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