English Literature

English Literature Studies

General Introduction

The English Faculty in the University of Oxford is one of the oldest and most highly respected in the world. Such figures as John Donne, Samuel Johnson, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Graham Greene, W. H. Auden, J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Philip Larkin and Oscar Wilde – to name but a few- are all Oxford alumni, Lewis and Wilde at Magdalen College ! This rich and long tradition will influence your Summer School studies of English Literature and Language. The five Options each look at a key author and/or period in English Literary history. You will have access to the world-famous Bodleian library and your tutors will include experienced members of the English Faculty. Taught in a stimulating combination of tutorial and seminar formats and with integral field excursions, each Option seeks to provide a vigorous, challenging, and fun approach to its subject.

The Structure of the Course

Your work during the Summer School will focus around your chosen Option. You will, therefore, need to decide carefully between the four available Options:

• Rediscovering Shakespeare
• Jane Austen in Text & Context
• The Inklings in Oxford (J.R.R. Tolkien, C.C Lewis et al.)
• Prison Literature : The Freedom of Imprisonment

Details of each of these Options are enclosed. We ask you to identify your order of preference for these Options so that we can balance the seminar and tutorial groups; we try to ensure that participants are allocated to their first choice, and most will be so.
Seminars and Tutorials

You will meet twice a week with your Option tutor in a combination of seminars and tutorials. All those studying a particular option meet for seminars, involving group discussion and presentations on pre-assigned topics. The tutorial meeting comprises a 1-2 hour meeting of a small group (a maximum of 5 students). The tutorial is the traditional Oxford teaching environment, and in most weeks you will be required to write an essay which may be read out in the tutorial. This may seem a dauntingly intimate procedure, but you need to bear in mind that this gives you, the student, the maximum space and time to discuss your interests and to develop your arguments in active partnership with both tutor and tutorial partners. It is an invigorating, rather than intimidating challenge! You will be required to produce five pieces of written work or their equivalent over the course. The usual division of assignments will be three tutorial essays and two seminar presentations, but individual tutors will discuss the precise details of assignments on your arrival.


There will also be occasional lectures which all those participating in the English Literature Summer Programme will attend. Given by leading specialists and scholars in their field, lectures will be linked to the Options, but of a general interest to all participants.

Field Excursions

One-day Field Excursions are also attended by all participants in the Programme. Your experiences and observations on these elements of the programme are not formally assessed, but are designed to enrich your studies both by reference to your chosen option and to introduce you to sites of exceptional importance in England’s literary heritage. Details are finalised in the spring, but the projected excursions in 2024 will include 2-3 of the following:

• Shakespeare’s Globe on the banks of the Thames in London. A guided tour of the theatre and its related museums will be followed by an afternoon performance.
• Charleston House in Sussex, a beautiful retreat for Virginia Woolf, John Maynard Keynes and others of the ‘Bloomsbury’ set.
• The City of Bath
• Winchester and Jane Austen’s house and museum in Chawton, Hampshire.
• Stratford Upon Avon and the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and Company.

Participants can also elect to take the optional 4-day Excursion Development of British Landscapes depending on availability of places (see appropriate document in this pack).

Assessment and Credit

Your overall performance for the course (contributions to class, essays and presentations) is assessed and your tutor will assign a grade and write an individual report on your progress and achievement. Oxford criteria, filtered through an American grading system, are applied. Subject to the approval and regulation of your home institution, 6 credits are awarded for successful completion of the course.

© Dr Ken Addison, Oxford Academic Summer School Tours Ltd: for 2024