Three years of my life as an EU student of English Literature at the University of East Anglia,England.
I’ve been really busy since my lectures and seminars started again two weeks ago — I’ve had a lot of reading to do and I’m still desperately trying to be on top of my work this semester! I’ve only managed to do that by not reading the novels we were assigned to the end (sorry, tutors…) but at least it works. One of my seminar leaders last year actually said we could do that so I don’t feel as bad. I mean, who needs to read soapy 18th Century novels like Richardson’s Pamela until the end? Nothing happens so — and I have no shame in admitting it — Wikipedia has proved to be, once more, my best ally. No human being can read absolutely everything, like I attempted last year. It doesn’t change the fact that I’ve been working a lot.
In the second year of English Literature, you’re more free than in the first year in terms of module options and choice (you need three per semester)! It’s cool, but you still need to meet certain requirements. There are three categories of modules (A, B and C — you can see that on the course profile on the UEA website). You must choose four modules in option range A: these ones are the eras or genre you’d expect all literature students to know about. The two other categories offer an incredibly range of modules so there’s something for everyone! Now the important thing is that you have to take two pre-1789 modules, which can be slightly annoying or problematic.
This semester, I’ve got three modules: Reading and Writing Translations, 18th Century Writing and Modernism.
Let’s start with the one I’m most excited about: Reading and Writing Translations! I’d already done Reading Translations in first year and absolutely loved it, so I was really keen on taking this new second year module. I don’t know if I’ll ever manage to be a translator but I find this subject fascinating. It is a rather small group, which is great, and our seminar tutor is Duncan Large, the new director for the new academic director of the British Centre for Literary Translation! The module involves a lot of translation theory and does not seem to focus on writing our own translation which is an interesting approach. So far, I really like it. We’re going to work on classical texts such as the Bible and also on very modern books like Harry Potter. I definitely think it was the right choice for me and it’s a shame I won’t be doing it next semester and that it looks like there’s no translation module available in third year.
The second module is Modernism: big mistake. The main reason why I took it is because I loved studying Nabokov’s Lolita last year and like postmodernism… To be fair, I’m only two weeks in but I haven’t really enjoyed it so far because there is a lot of poetry and that’s not something I particularly like. I find it even harder in English to be honest and struggle a bit but hopefully it’ll get a more interesting when we study novels in the next couple of weeks. For now, we’re working on a huge anthology that’s quite intimidating and have read some “modernist theory”.
My housemate has been trying to make the modernist reading more fun by adding Monty Python references to my anthology… Everybody needs a friend like her to distract you from doing your real work.
My third module is 18th Century Writings and I took it as part of the pre-1789 requirement. At first, I wasn’t really sure whether I should do 17th or 18th Century literature but my personal adviser suggested that 18th century would be better for me since that’s when the English novel really started to exist and to develop. So far, I’ve really enjoyed it although the language is a bit alien at times. One thing that infuriates me is how they used a sort of “F” letter instead of a normal “S”, that is so confusing! Anyway, I just read Pamela; or Virtue Rewarded by Richardson and loved it. The story is silly and, as the title indicates, very didactic. Many students will disagree but I find these books very entertaining and fun. I also started reading Robinson Crusoe by Defoe: I’m glad we’re doing it because it’s become such a classic theme and character in popular culture with many movies and adaptations that I find it interesting to go back to the source and understand why it became so popular.
Wish me luck for the rest of the semester! Good luck to all of you too 🙂