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English Language and Literature Reading List

Welcome Letter from Prof. Peter McCullough

Photo of Peter McCullough in a jacket and purple shirt, standing in front of a tree with yellow leaves

Dear Fresher,

My colleagues (Dr Timothy Michael and Dr Rebecca Menmuir) and I are delighted that you will be joining us to read English at Lincoln in October. We hope that you are looking forward to it as much as we are, and I would like to give you here some preliminary information that should help ensure that we all get off to a good start together after you arrive.

The Oxford English course is divided into two parts with examinations at the end of the first and third years.  Your first examination, called Prelims, will be taken at the end of your first year, and it will consist of four courses (called 'papers' in Oxford) taught over the first year: 'Early Medieval Literature (650-1350)' taught by Dr Menmuir; 'Victorian Literature (1830-1910)', and 'Modern Literature (1910-present)' taught by Dr Michael; and 'Introduction to Language and Literature', which is organised jointly by Drs Michael and Menmuir.

You will find below your reading lists for the Michaelmas papers, and you should pay careful attention to them immediately – the Oxford English course requires a significant amount of preparation in the vacations before every term begins, and the first term is no exception. If you neglect the vacation reading, you will not be ready for work due at the very start of term and then find it very difficult to catch up.

Our approach to literature will be primarily historical and linguistic.  As you read you should keep an eye on dates of composition and build up your own map of what you read, and, for Early Medieval (Old English), begin to build up a working familiarity with grammar basics.  Take notes and write mini-essays comparing texts with one another, or tracing characteristics within a single author's work.  When you have finished a novel or a group of poems, make time to write down your impressions or ideas about them.  Remember that one hour's thought and noting when your response is still fresh will save you many hours later. And do buy your own texts (these are available in paperback) and mark all of those passages which strike you as particularly important, for whatever reason; you'll be glad you did when it comes time for classes and tutorials. (You will also be able to claim back most of your book costs from your College book grant at the end of each academic year, so save those receipts!)

I am happy to answer any questions you may have and can be reached by email: peter.mccullough@lincoln.ox.ac.uk

I look forward to seeing you in October.

Yours sincerely,

Peter McCullough

Senior Fellow and Tutor in English

Course Description and Reading Lists