School’s (not quite) out for summer

Summer breaks often feel a very unsettling time for me – I enjoy them of course but the stripping away of the structure that comes with an academic term, the daily jobs that need doing, the steadily approaching deadlines, can make me feel rather rudderless.

However, so far, I have been keeping myself very busy. I have just spent the last 2 weeks in London taking part in UCL’s Summer Classics School (aka a crash course in Latin).

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The Bloomsbury campus is gorgeous with a beautiful bookshop and a lovely union run café, it’s also within walking distance of places such as the British Museum and the daily food market on Tottenham Court Road. However, for all its beauty and the exciting places within reach I still don’t think I would have enjoyed going to university in London (the tube in all the recent hot weather was unbearable). Norwich is gorgeous and has quite enough going on for me.

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Whilst in London I also took the chance to see some theatre – I would have been an embarrassment to the Drama Society otherwise. I was fortunately able to get a £25 ticket, only booking the day before, to see Robert Icke’s production of Hamlet at the Harold Pinter Theatre. If you’re in London and get a chance it’s a simply stunning production that’s kept me thinking about it for days afterwards (Here’s a review which I think really captures my feelings towards it). I was also tickled that during the show I kept remembering snippets of my second year Shakespeare module – clearly some of it went in and stuck!

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I’m now back from London but am turning straight around and heading off to Norwich because tomorrow I’m graduating! I will of course make a post soon about what I get up to during Grad Week, so watch this space.

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Reading ‘the right stuff’

Hello All!

Goodness, August has been a busy month. I’ve been the literal length and breadth of the country over the last two weeks and am now quite exhausted.

However, during that time I have received a few interesting emails from readers (all soon to be Literature students) asking about how best to prepare for uni. One question that particularly struck me was from a UEA fresher who was worried that they hadn’t read ‘the right sorts of books’ before coming to uni.

This question particularly stayed with me because it made me realise that before coming to university I was one of those people who might be perceived to have not read, ‘the right sorts of books’. It had never really occurred to me before that that was something I could have been potentially worried about when I arrived as a fresher.

It’s probably worth outlining now what people usually think of as the right kind of books for literature students to be reading; Classics such as those of Dickens, Eliot, the Bronte sisters… you get the gist.

Now, I have always been a book worm. As a child my teachers used to complain to my parents that I read too much and wasn’t playing with other children enough. I used to get in trouble for staying up past my bed time reading, and right up until sixth form I was happily getting through at least one book a week (then A-Levels and being able to go out at weekends began to take up my time a lot more). But at no point during that did I worry I was reading the right stuff.

Since I was very little I knew that I wanted to study English Literature at uni and so I always supposed that I would get around to reading the classics then, when I was older, wiser, and would understand them better. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t read classics when you’re young, just that you shouldn’t feel like you must or that otherwise you’ll not be qualified to be a literature student.

I read handful of classics before starting uni but they were all ones I was interested in. Other than that I read what I liked, and I am pleased to say that it has not hindered me at university at all.

We study literature at university because we enjoy it and because it interests us, so there’s no point slogging through something in your free time just because you feel you have to.

Every literature student arrives at uni with a different reading history behind them and it is meeting all these different people who have been exposed to different kinds of books (don’t even get me started on how a lot of the books we’re told we’re supposed to have read were written by dead white men) that makes it an exciting and interesting environment to be in.

Long story short, read what you want and enjoy it to the max.