Last week, the head of the English department at my uni sent out the reading list for the coming year. Thankfully, these books seem like ones I will actually be interested in and excited to write about in all the different essays I’ll have to do. I look forward to progressing onto the second year and trying harder than I did in my first year–health problems, pandemic, mental health issues and high schoolesque drama aside, I aim to be a better me in this year, with more focus on my future and education.

I know that of course, I shouldn’t try to compete and put too much pressure on myself, but when it seems like people think differently and doubt you (which is something I know that is happening–though not to my face), you want to, no–have to push yourself to the limits to get what you want. And what I want is a first for my second year and with all these books and plays and poems I’ll be reading, and the films i’ll be watching, I’ll pour everything I have into my studies, into my writing and researching.

Reading list:

Literature in Context: Fiction since 1800

Term 1

  • Jane Austen, Emma (first published 1815), 4th edn (Norton Critical Editions, 2011). ISBN 9780393927641
  • Thomas Hardy, Tess of the D’Urbervilles (1891), 3rd edn (Norton Critical Editions, 1991). ISBN 9780393959031
  • Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness (1902), 5th edn(Norton Critical Editions, 2016). ISBN 9780393264869

Term 2

  • Virginia Woolf, Mrs Dalloway (1925), new edition (Penguin, 2000). ISBN 9780141182490
  • Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man (1952), new edition (Penguin, 2001). ISBN 9780141184425** [**Please note: this is not the H. G. Wells novel, The Invisible Man); use the ISBN number above to double check that you have the correct title]
  • J. M. Coetzee, Diary of a Bad Year (2007)(Vintage, 2008). ISBN 9780099516224.
  • Tom McCarthy, Remainder (2005) (Alma Books, 2015). ISBN 9781846883804

Set film adaptations to be viewed by students

  1. Clueless (Amy Heckerling, 1995)
  2. Apocalypse Now (Francis Ford Coppola, 1979)

Literature in Context: Poetry and Drama since 1800

  • Margaret Ferguson, Tim Kendall and Mary Jo Salter (eds), The Norton Anthology of Poetry, 6th edn. London: Norton, 2018. ISBN: 0393283283.
  • Romantic period in the Norton Anthology of Poetry by William Cowper; Anna Laetitia Barbauld; Hannah More; Charlotte Smith; Phillis Wheatley; William Blake; Robert Burns; Joanna Baillie; William Wordsworth; Samuel Taylor Coleridge; George Gordon, Lord Byron; Percy Bysshe Shelley; John Clare; John Keats.
  • Daljit Nagra, Look We Have Coming to Dover!, London: Faber, 2007.ISBN: 0571231225.

The plays:

  • Henrik Ibsen, A Doll’s House (1879), trans. Michael Meyer, Methuen Student Edition, London: Methuen, 2008. ISBN: 1408106027.
  • August Strindberg, Miss Julie (1888), trans. Michael Meyer, Methuen Student Edition, London: Methuen, 2006. ISBN: 0413775828.
  • Frank Wedekind, Spring Awakening (1891), trans. Edward Bond, Methuen Student Edition, London: Methuen, 2012. ISBN: 1408140896.
  • Georg Kaiser, From Morning to Midnight (1912), trans. Dennis Kelly, Oberon Modern Plays, London: Oberon, 2013. ISBN: 1783190132.
  • Bertolt Brecht, Fear and Misery of the Third Reich (1938), trans. John Willett, Methuen Student Edition, London: Methuen, 2009. ISBN: 1408100088.
  • Caryl Churchill, Top Girls (1982), Methuen Student Edition, London: Methuen, 2008. ISBN: 1408106035.
  • Jez Butterworth, Jerusalem (2009), NHB Modern Plays, London: Nick Hern Books, 2009. ISBN: 1848420501.
  • Debbie tucker green, ear for eye (2018), NHB Modern Plays, London: Nick Hern Books, 2018. ISBN: 184842762X.

American Fictions

This module is one I know I will enjoy the most, as it has texts dealing with issues relating to gender, race, ethnicity, the American journey, politics and American identity, which are all investigated in texts that range from examples of Southern American writing to postmodern and post 9/11 fictions.

Primary Reading:

  • Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter (1850), Norton Critical Edition, New York and London: Norton, 2005. ISBN: 039397953.
  • Stephen Crane, ‘The Red Badge of Courage’ (1895), in The Red Badge of Courage and Other Stories, Oxford World’s Classics, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008. ISBN: 9780199552542.
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby (1925), Penguin Modern Classics, London: Penguin, 2000. ISBN: 9780141182636.
  • J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye (1951), London: Penguin, 2010. ISBN: 0241950430.
  • Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar (1963), London: Faber, 2005. ISBN: 0571226167.
  • Jack Kerouac, On The Road (1957), Penguin Modern Classics, London: Penguin, 2011. ISBN: ISBN 9780141912561.
  • Tennessee Williams, A Streetcar Named Desire (1947) [Your preferred edition]
  • Arthur Miller, Death of a Salesman (1949) [Your preferred edition]
  • Toni Morrison, Beloved (1987), London: Vintage, 1997. ISBN: 0099760118.
  • Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937), London: Virago, 1986. ISBN: 0860685241.
  • John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath (1939), London: Penguin Modern Classics, 2017. ISBN: 9780241980347.
  • Colson Whitehead, The Underground Railroad (2016), London: Fleet, 2017. ISBN: 9780708898406.
  • Douglas Coupland, Generation X (1991), London: Abacus, 2013. ISBN: 0349138923.
  • Louise Erdrich, Tracks (1988), London: Flamingo, 2009. ISBN: 0006546218.
  • Tommy Orange, There There (2018), London: Vintage, 2019. ISBN: 978-0-525-43614-0.
  • Cormac McCarthy, The Road (2006), London: Picador, 2009. ISBN: 0330468464.
  • Don DeLillo, Falling Man (2007), London: Picador, 2011. ISBN: 978-0330524919
  • Dave Eggers, The Circle (2013), London: Penguin, 2013. ISBN: 978-0-341-14650-7.

Whilst the list is, clearly, extensive and I’m fearing it could potentially take my love for reading away, I’m excited about this new coming year. Of course, with coronavirus and a semi-lockdown partially in place, and not nearly enough information on how this will affect uni students other than majority of the first term possibly being online, I am a little unsure on how to properly proceed. Though by spending the next month or so of summer reading, it’s a good start to try and get back into the swing of studying. I’m super excited to be reading Emma, Tess of the D’Urbervilles, Mrs Dalloway, and pretty much all the books on the American Fictions module–particularly The Scarlet Letter and The Bell Jar, as I know they’re texts I’ll have so much to write about and go into deeper detail, pertaining to society, culture, sex and identity.

Seeing Clueless on the list of films to watch legit made me gasp in surprise, as it’s one of my favourite movies of all time, plus Paul Rudd is in it and he’s gorgeous. I know that second year of uni will be tough on me, considering I barely gave my all in my first year, which, whilst understandable given the situations, turned into nothing after my first term when I did try but not nearly enough. I will have to explore more of myself and my writing to a more profound level; understanding the literature I am reading and writing about them in ways I choose to, with a secondary reading list and looking different ways to approach and tackle the topic/s I choose to write about.

Obviously, like the year prior, most, if not all, the books are Eurocentric, a few on the list do feature literature related to ethnocentrism, which I am glad about as I feel like other cultures and backgrounds need to be looked at more than just focusing on white ‘classics’ like Shakespeare and the likes. It gets boring after awhile. I love that uni is not rigid or restrictive in the materials studied, allowing us the freedom to be able to choose our own questions, or even suggestion ones to our supervisors if we think it’ll be a better fit.

I can’t wait to take hold of the coming year in all its might and conquer the next two years I have studying English Lit, because it’s something I chose to do, a sentiment J reminds me when I tell him sometimes I doubt the choice I made or whenever I told him I couldn’t be bothered to write my essays. (He truly is the best man to ever exist and I couldn’t be more grateful or blessed to have him be my partner, my supporter and my best friend.) (God, is the bar really that low? Damn lol)

Pandemic and this pathetic excuse of a lockdown aside, I’m excited for what’s to come and continuing to study a subject I’ve always been passionate about.

Sumaiya, x

Posted by:Sumaiya Ahmed

Sumaiya Ahmed is a student, poet and freelance features journalist, aiming to break down the boundaries of cultural stigma and shame attached to mental health and sexuality within the South Asian culture, and bringing marginalised topics to light. She is the Founder and Editor-In-Chief of Poised.

4 thoughts on “Second Year Reading List & Initial Thoughts

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