Studying English Literature and Language : An Introduction and Companion book cover
3rd Edition

Studying English Literature and Language
An Introduction and Companion

ISBN 9780415498760
Published March 12, 2012 by Routledge
448 Pages 3 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

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.

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 . . .



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


"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