English Literature Courses

By Frank Bolger - Last update

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Is literature your passion When choosing a night course, consider what your interests are. If you’ve never read a book from cover to cover, then it’s unlikely that a course in analysing the great literary works of the world will be for you. However, if you often find yourself so engrossed in a book that you when finally close the cover you find it’s well past bedtime, then perhaps you’d be the perfect candidate for such a course.

As the very clever, and very creative, Arnold Bennett once noted: ‘Literature exists so that where one man has lived finely, ten thousand may afterward live finely’. One of the many pleasures of reading powerful writing is the ability it has to transport you to a different time and place and experience things vicariously, through the vision of a gifted storyteller. A course in English literature appreciation will guide you towards enhancing your knowledge of the works of great writers spanning from the Middle Ages to the 21st century. Well-known and loved authors are usually the focus of attention – Shakespeare, James Joyce, Jane Austen, and Charles Dickens. Texts commonly studied might include such masterpieces as Catcher in the Rye, Death of a Salesman, or the dazzlingly brilliant Moby-Dick.

A typical course in any programme will consist of reading specific texts and analysing them in an effort to understand the intentions of the author and also negotiate through the various themes that may not be hugely apparent at first glance. Different approaches will be used to assess the context in which the work was written which will also lead to an analysis of the problems in the society and how these influenced the process of writing.

Comparative measures may also be adopted, which will aid students in using their knowledge of one style of writing to determine the tone of another. Participating in an English literature course will do a lot more for you than give you an impressive back catalogue of names and quotations to drop at random at your next dinner party. As well as training your mind to assess a body of text and learn how to critically analyse it in writing, your articulation skills will also benefit from it, making you more confident in speaking in public and debating with others.

If you still harbour any doubts at all, then maybe the words of the late, great Ray Bradbury might help convince you: ‘You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them’.

Frank Bolger

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