Studying English Literature and Language: An Introduction and Companion, 3rd Edition (Paperback) book cover

Studying English Literature and Language

An Introduction and Companion, 3rd Edition

By Rob Pope


448 pages | 3 B/W Illus.

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Studying English Literature and Language is unique in offering both an introduction and a companion for students taking English Literature and Language degrees. Combining the functions of study guide, critical dictionary and text anthology, this is a freshly recast version of the highly acclaimed The English Studies Book.

This third edition features:

  • fresh sections on the essential skills and study strategies needed to complete a degree in English—from close reading, research and referencing to full guidelines and tips on essay-writing, participating in seminars, presentations and revision
  • an authoritative guide to the life skills, further study options and career pathways open to graduates of the subject
  • updated introductions to the major theoretical positions and approaches taken by scholars in the field, from earlier twentieth century practical criticism to the latest global and ecological perspectives
  • extensive entries on key terms such as ‘author, ‘genre’, ‘narrative’ and ‘translation’ widely current in debates across language, literature and culture
  • coverage of both local and global varieties of the English language in a range of media and discourses, including news, advertising, text messaging, rap, pop and street art
  • an expansive anthology representing genres and discourses from early elegy and novel to contemporary performance, flash fiction, including writers as diverse as Aphra Behn, Emily Dickinson, J.M. Coetzee, Angela Carter, Russell Hoban, Adrienne Rich and Arundhati Roy
  • a comprehensive, regularly updated companion website supplying further information and activities, sample analyses and a wealth of stimulating and reliable links to further online resources.

Studying English Literature and Language is a wide-ranging and invaluable reference for anyone interested in the study of English language, literature and culture.


"This splendid book is at once primer and provocation….Rarely does a companion for English Studies manage to connect the investigation of language and literature so closely to a student’s imaginative and practical needs" Jerome McGann, University of Virginia, USA

"Rob Pope's Studying English is an impressively wide-ranging textbook that effortlessly covers such topics as the historical, social, and cultural dimensions of the English language, the principles of close reading, the intricacies of literary theory, and much, much more, while along the way it makes its readers familiar with the taking of notes, with preparing a bibliography, even with the pitfalls of job interviews and writing applications. All of this is wonderfully supported by a choice of excerpts and texts that is equally generous and varied, ranging from the canonical to real life conversations and beer commercials.

Studying English is critical, creative, and enjoyable - the conditions, as Pope himself notes, for genuine learning - but it is also, and perhaps even more importantly, as interactive as a textbook could possibly be.

Rob Pope casts a very wide net and his - and our - reward is an amazing catch." Hans Bertens, The University of Utrecht, The Netherlands

"Rob Pope provides a pathway between the claims and counterclaims that have been made about subject English. He shows that the differences between scholars within the field are a source of its vitality and its capacity to renew itself. This book provides an invaluable resource for students in undergraduate and teacher education programs. It is also a useful reminder to English teachers at secondary and tertiary levels of the richness, complexity and importance of their work." Brenton Doecke, Deakin University, Australia

"I am delighted that there is a new edition of this wonderful, well-thought out and superbly useful book. It is as it was, clear, up-to-date and ideal for students and teachers of English" Robert Eaglestone, Royal Holloway, University of London, UK

Praise for the Second Edition

"This is without question the very best text available for the new "gateway" (introductory) courses to the English major."

David Stacey, Humboldt State University, USA

Table of Contents


Crossing borders, establishing boundaries

Texts in contexts: literature in history

Seeing through theory

English Literature and Creative Writing

English Language Teaching

Technologising the subject: actual and virtual communities

Forewords! Some propositions and provocations



1.1 Which ‘Englishes’?

One English language, literature, culture – or many




by medium

Summary: one and many

1.2 ‘Doing English’ – ten essential actions |

Getting your bearings

Turning up, taking part: lectures and seminars

Taking and making notes

Close reading – wide reading

Library, web, ‘home’ – an ongoing cycle

Taking responsibility: referencing and plagiarism

Writing an essay to make a mark

Doing a presentation to prompt a response

Revision – preparing to take an exam

Seriously enjoy studying English!

1.3 Fields of study: a preliminary mapping



Culture, communication and media

Summary: keeping on course and making your own way



2.1 Initial analysis: how to approach a text

Opening moves: Notice—Pattern—Contrast—Feeling

Core questions: What, Who, When. Where, How, Why and What if?

Worked and played example: William Blake’s ‘London’

2.2 Full interpretation: informed reading, adventurous writing

Interpretative framework and analytical checklist

Poetry +

Prose fiction +

Play Script +

Critical essay +

2.3 Longer projects: lines of enquiry and sample study patterns

From vague idea to viable project

Working and playing from the Anthology

Further strategies for critical-creative writing

2.4 Overview of textual activities as learning strategies

More kinds of critical-creative writing



3.1 Theory in Practice – a working model to play with

3.2 Words on the page – Practical Criticism and (old) New Criticism

3.3 Devices and effects – Formalism into Functionalism

3.4 Mind and person – Psychological approaches

3.5 Class and community – Marxism, Cultural Materialism and New Historicism

3.6 Gender and sexuality – Feminism, Masculinity and Queer theory

3.7 Relativities – Poststructuralism and Postmodernism . . .

3.8 Ethnicities – Postcolonialism and Multiculturalism

3.9 The new Eclecticism? Ethics, Aesthetics, Ecology . . .




5.1 Poetries

5.1.1 Early English verses

Old English lament (anon.) ‘Wulf and Eadwacer’

Medieval lyric (anon.), ‘Maiden in the mor lay’

Geoffrey Chaucer, The General Prologue

Sir Thomas Wyatt, ‘They flee from me’

5.1.2 Sonnets by various hands

William Shakespeare, ‘My mistress’ eyes’ (Sonnet 130)

John Milton, ‘When I consider how my light is spent’

Patience Agbabi, ‘Problem Pages’ (responses to Shakespeare’s and Milton’s sonnets)

Gerard Manley Hopkins, ‘The Windhover – To Christ our Lord’

Rupert Brooke, ‘The Soldier’; with Winston Churchill Ursula Fanthorpe, ‘Knowing about Sonnets’ (response to Brooke)

5.1.3 Heroics and mock-heroics

John Milton, Paradise Lost

Alexander Pope, The Rape of the Lock

Elizabeth Hands, ‘A Poem . . . by a Servant Maid’

George Gordon, Lord Byron, The Vision of Judgement

5.1.4 Poetry that answers back

Robyn Bolam, ‘Gruoch’ (Lady Macbeth)

Tom Leonard, ‘This is thi six a clock news’

Chan Wei Meng, ‘I spik Inglissh’

Mario Petrucci, ‘The Complete Letter Guide’, ‘Mutations’, ‘Reflections’, ‘Trench’

5.1.5 Performing poetry, singing culture

Seminole chants: ‘Song for the Dying’; 'Song for Bringing a Child into the World’

Patience Agbabi, ‘The Word’

Queen, ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’

πo, ‘7 daiz’

The Flobots, ‘No Handlebars’

Philip Gross, ‘Severn Song’

5.2 Proses

5.2.1 Short stories, fables and flash fiction (complete)

Rudyard Kipling, The Story of Muhammad Din

Don Barthelme, The Death of Edward Lear

Margaret Atwood, Happy Endings

Angela Carter, The Werewolf

Amy Tan, ‘Feathers from a thousand li away’

Dave Eggers, ‘What the Water Feels Like to the Fishes’

5.2.2 Slave narratives by name

Aphra Behn, Oroonoko, or The Royal Slave

Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe (‘I call him Friday’)

Geoff Holdsworth, ‘I call him Tuesday Afternoon’

J.M. Coetzee, Foe

5.2.3 Romance revisited

Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre

Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea

Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

Will Self, Dorian

5.2.4 Science and Fantasy Fiction – genre and gender

Phillip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Ursula LeGuin, The Left Hand of Darkness

Russell Hoban, Riddley Walker

Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, Good Omens

5.2.5 War on – of – Terror

Ian McEwan, ‘Only love and then oblivion’, The Guardian

Arundhati Roy, ‘The Algebra of Infinite Justice’, The Guardian

Nick Barton, Voices from the Battlefields of Afghanistan – from the air

Simon Panter, Voices from the Battlefields of Afghanistan – on the ground

5.2.6 Media messages and street texts

News: headlines, captions, intros, outros

Personal and not-so-personal ads

Cash-machine and check-out exchanges

Answer-phone message, call-centre script

Street: signs, graffiti, word-art

5.3 Voices

5.3.1 Dramatising ‘English’ in Education

Student talk amongst friends (transcript)

Willy Russell, Educating Rita

Lloyd Jones, Mr Pip

Jeremy Jacobson, ‘The Post-Modern Lecture’

5.3.2 Novel voices

Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

Amos Tutuola, The Palm-Wine Drinkard

Roddy Doyle, Paddy Clarke ha ha ha

James Kelman, How late it was, how late

5.3.3 Voice—play, dream—drama

Dylan Thomas, Under Milk Wood

Samuel Beckett, Not I

Athol Fugard, Boesman and Lena

Martin McDonagh, The Pillowman

Alice Oswald, Dart

5.3.4 ‘I’dentity in the balance – selves and others

John Clare, ‘I am – yet what I am . . .’

Emily Dickinson, ‘I’m Nobody’

Adrienne Rich, ‘Dialogue’

Alan Hollinghurst, The Swimming-Pool Library

5.4 Crossings

5.4.1 Daffodils?

William Wordsworth, ‘I wandered lonely as a cloud’

Dorothy Wordsworth, Grasmere Journals

Lynn Peters, ‘Why Dorothy Wordsworth is Not as Famous as her Brother

‘Heineken refreshes the poets other beers can’t reach

5.4.2 Mapping Journeys

Harry Beck, first Map of the London Underground (1931)

Bill Bryson, Notes from a Small Island

Caryl Phillips, Crossing the River

Billy Marshall-Stoneking, ‘Passage’

Kathleen Jamie, ‘Pathologies – A startling tour of our bodies’

5.4.3 Translations / Transformations

Brian Friel, Translations

Jo Shapcott and Rainer Maria Rilke, ‘Roses’ (English and French)

W. G. Sebald, Austerlitz

5.4.4 Versions of aging

May Sarton, As We Are Now

‘Clarins is the Problem-solver’

William Shakespeare, ‘Devouring Time’ (Sonnet 19)

Dennis Scott, ‘Uncle Time’

5.4.5 Epitaphs and (almost) last words

Epitaphs by Pope, Gray, Burns, and others

Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart

Toni Morrison, Beloved

Grace Nicholls, ‘Tropical Death’



6.1 Living, learning, earning

What now? What next? What if . . .?

6.2 English again, afresh, otherwise

English and or as other subjects

6.3 Further study

Postgraduate courses in and around English

6.4 Into work

Transformable skills, transformative knowledges

Career pathways and interesting jobs for ‘English’graduates

Towards application and interview

6.5 Play as re-creation

Afterwords – a postlude


a Grammatical and linguistic terms – a quick reference

b An alphabet of speech sounds

c Chronology of English by period and movement

d Maps of English in Britain, the USA, and the world


Relevant journals and useful addresses


Afterwords . . .

About the Author

Rob Pope is Professor of English Studies at Oxford Brookes University and a National Teaching Fellow.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LANGUAGE ARTS & DISCIPLINES / Linguistics / General