Welcome back to another Bookish Byron post!
Today, we shall be discussing the dreaded university. I’d done a similar posts for my First and Second Year of university, so if you’re interested in how my English Literature degree at LJMU is structured, then definitely go check them out. This post is dedicated to the first semester of my third and final year.
This year is a little different from my last two. Instead of doing year-long modules, I am doing semester-long. I’m still doing the same amount of modules (five to be exact) but they’re just split up. I’ll be adding a Part Two to this once I’ve completed my final semester.
My dissertation is the only module that is year-long. I don’t have any set reading to do as it is entirely my own work and of my own choosing. In this module, I aim to think of a question, provide an argument and a conclusion alongside a substantial amount of research.
Unfortunately, I cannot delve into any detail on my research project just yet. You’ll have to wait until it’s finished and uploaded before I can do that, but I will give you all the details in my Semester Two post. As for now, all I can tell you is that it’s centred on the Brontë sisters.
Terrorism and Modern Literature:
In this module, we explored the literary representations of political violence and the condition of modernity. Specifically, we analyse the relationship between radical politics and literary aesthetics that are key to the texts. In addition to this, we explored a range of topics, including: imperialism, nationalism, capitalism, shock and terror, literary aesthetics, state violence, and revolutionary struggle, to name but a few.
To put it frank, I hated this module. I obviously didn’t learn from last year that I needed to choose my modules wisely. I knew I’d end up hating this module, but I chose it anyway. (Why? I have no idea.) I disliked pretty much all the novels and their authors. Terrorism is not something that interests me enough to want to read and analyse it, despite how current it is in the world. I’m really glad that this was only a semester-long module, otherwise I don’t know how I would have coped.
Books I read: Conrad’s The Secret Agent, Chesterton’s The Man Who was Thursday, Peace’s GB84, Greene’s The Quiet American, Friel’s Translations, and Kobek’s Atta.
Transitions: Identities in the Inter-war Years:
This was concerned with the shifting identities during the inter-war years (1918 to 1939). We focused on the impact of the First World War by analysing how people viewed society and themselves through literature. A handful of themes we look at include: class, gender, sexuality and national allegiances. We also considered the different forms of literature that emerged during this period, including the detective novel, popular magazines, comic writing, political poetry and fiction.
The World Wars have always fascinated me, so I knew I’d love this module. Getting to analyse literature produced around this time was really interesting and unique. All of the texts put forward a new concept from this period, for example: the new ways of viewing sexuality, the rise of comedy, and nostalgia for pre-war Britain. I really enjoyed my first assignment for this module; I got to do archival research on The Strand Magazine (the very magazine that serialised Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes). I analysed Arnold Bennett’s explorations of Englishness in his ‘How to Make the Best of Life’ series, which was so fascinating (but also very misogynistic).
Book I read: Christie’s The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, Hall’s The Well of Loneliness, Sassoon’s poetry, Isherwood’s Goodbye to Berlin, Orwell’s Coming Up for Air, and Waugh’s Decline and Fall.
Despite not enjoying one of the modules and being completely stressed out by another, I found one that I thoroughly enjoyed. I’m going to make it my priority to read some more literature from the inter-war years, alongside some prior to WW1 and some immediately after WW2. It’ll be interesting to see the literary shift in these forty years or so, as well as seeing how perspectives on certain topics are explored.
I don’t want to end this post on a negative, but how is this my final semester of university? I know it’s said a lot, but it doesn’t feel like two seconds ago I moved an hour and a half away from home to commence studying a subject I’m so passionate about. Maybe my love and dedication to English Literature has consumed the time without my knowing it. I’m not quite sure where I’ll be come May. I am hoping to apply for a Masters, but I’ll be very lucky if they accepted me.
Thanks for reading, Lauren X