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An Introduction to English Literature

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Charlotte Tanner

on 11 January 2017

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Transcript of An Introduction to English Literature

An Introduction to English Literature
What is English Literature?
How can we study and categorise literature?
Why study English Literature?
Poetry stirs up imaginative appreciation of ideas and experiences.
Poetry often provokes an emotional response because of the careful arrangement of language to produce sound, rhythm and meaning.
A play is a type of literature, generally consisting of scripted dialogue between characters.
Most plays are intended for theatrical performance rather than just reading.
The word 'drama' refers to performance, and often to the stage production of plays.
A novel is a narrative (story) that describes fictional characters and events.
Some novels are closely linked to history.
Do you think that all novels should be true to life (realistic)? Why or why not?
Some novels (sometimes referred to as 'classics') have been popular for several hundred years. Do you think that we should consider these novels to be the greatest works?
How have reading habits changed with advancements in technology?
The Canon
The 'Western canon' is a body of literature that some people think represents the most important and influential works in Western culture.
The canon includes 'the greatest works of art'.
Can you think of any advantages or disadvantages of having a 'canon' of literature, art or music?
Who, if anyone, should have the power to decide what goes into the canon?
Which bands or solo artists do you think are good enough to belong to a musical canon of the greatest musicians?
Periods of literature
To inspire, educate, entertain and engage...
Do you think that books such as the 'Harry Potter' series are read for entertainment, educational value, inspiration, or for a combination of reasons?

Think about J.K. Rowling's words:
' It does not do to dwell on dreams, Harry, and forget to live.'
'But know this; the ones that love us never really leave us. And you can always find them in here.'
'Soon we must all face the choice between what is right and what is easy.'

To learn about culture, society, and history...
Consider what we learn about poverty in Victorian Britain from this novel:

You went down one step even from the foul area into the cellar in which a family of human beings lived. It was very dark inside. The window-panes, many of them, were broken and stuffed with rags[...] the smell was so foetid as almost to knock the two men down. Quickly recovering themselves, as those inured to such things do, they began to penetrate the thick darkness of the place, and to see three or four little children rolling on the damp, nay wet brick floor, through which the stagnant, filthy moisture of the street oozed up; the fire-place was empty and black; the wife sat on her husband's lair, and cried in the dark loneliness.
Poetry comes in many forms...
What differences do you notice between the styles of these poets?

Walt Whitman - 'I believe a leaf of grass is no less
Than a journey work of the stars,'

W.H. Davies - 'What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare'

T.S. Eliot - 'Human kind
Cannot bear very much reality'

Tennyson - 'Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all'
Why poetry?
(1564 - 1616)
Widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language!
Late Medieval literature (1100 - 1500)

The Renaissance (1500 - 1660)

Neoclassicism ( 1660 - 1798)

Romanticism (1798 - 1837)

Victorian Literature (1837 - 1901)

Modernism (1901 - 1945)

Post-modernism/ late modernism (1945 - 2000)

Twenty-first century literature

To learn about humanity and morality...
Listen very carefully to the following poem. Try to work out what advice is being given and to whom.
Genres of Fiction
Books are often categorised into the following genres. See if you can come up with brief definitions and/or examples :
Children's Literature
Detective/ Mystery
Science Fiction
5 minutes to:
Tell someone sitting near to you what you think the term 'poetry' means.
Now ask them to define a 'play'!
In the same pair, discuss what is different about a novel.
5 minutes to discuss the question:
'Have your expectations of 'English Literature' changed at all?' If so, explain how. If not, explain what you would expect to learn in a Literature lesson.
Why are there different methods of categorising literature?

HINT - think about the different ways of sorting the books in a library.

Key question - how important is it to have a canon of English or British Literature? What are the advantages of studying works from or about different cultures?
Final reflections...
How do you think studying Literature differs from studying other school subjects?

Do you think that studying works of literature is important? Why or why not?

Has a poem, play or novel ever inspired you? How about song lyrics? Think carefully about what inspired you and why.
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