The English Literature course provides you with the opportunity to develop the range and depth of your reading and to consider more carefully the characteristics and implications of a major art form.
The course draws on a range of different literary forms from a variety of different time periods providing a balance of novels, plays and poetry, comprising both classical and contemporary works. You will also develop the skills of reading literary criticism and consider the impact of social, historical and cultural contexts upon texts. English literature is a subject that by its nature requires learners to consider individual, moral, ethical, social, cultural and contemporary issues. The specification provides a framework for exploration of such issues and includes specific content through which individual courses may address these issues. For example, in meeting the assessment objective AO3, learners are engaged in considering the significance and influence of contexts in which literary texts are written and received. Spiritual, moral, ethical, social and cultural aspects are pertinent to such contexts.
The course provides excellent preparation for those wishing to study English Literature at undergraduate level whilst also providing excellent grounding for a plethora of different courses and careers. It is a course that stretches all candidates and fosters tremendous independent reading and study skills.
WHAT TEXTS WILL I STUDY?
One reason we chose the Welsh Board syllabus (Eduqas) out of the four on offer, is the freedom it gives to select a diverse range of texts. This specification is based on a conviction that the study of literature should encourage enjoyment of literary studies based on an informed personal response to a range of texts. The specification provides learners with an introduction to the discipline of advanced literary studies and presents opportunities for reading widely and for making creative and informed responses to each of the major literary genres of poetry, prose and drama.
Prose: This component encourages learners to engage with prose fiction written in different times.
Jane Bronte’s ‘Jane Eyre’
Bronte’s 1847 novel divided and even outraged some critics as it rebelliously introduced the idea of the ‘modern individual’ – a radical concept in Victorian Industrialised Britain. Through the narrative voice of Jane – who so openly expresses her desire for identity, definition, meaning and passion – Bronte challenges readers to re-interrogate social and cultural practices, as Jane refuses to submit to her social destiny.
Jean Rhys’ ‘Wide Sargasso Sea’
In 1966, Rhys published her multi-layered and complex novel that re-imagines ‘Jane Eyre,’ offering a prelude to the life Bronte’s characters – Mr Rochester and Bertha. Set in wild, magical Jamaican scenery, ‘Wide Sargasso Sea’ depicts the trouble and confusion on West Indian sugar estates in the aftermath of emancipation. It’s a post-colonial novel that explores themes of racial, class and gendered oppression subjugation.
Poetry and Drama:
This component encourages learners to develop their ability to read widely and engage critically with a range of poetry and drama whilst developing further their techniques of analysis and evaluation.
‘The Poetry of Ted Hughes’ (selected by Simon Armitage) Appointed Poet Laureate in 1984, Ted Hughes’ work is a brooding presence in the landscape of 20th Century poetry. His poetry offers readers an unflinching observation of the natural world and the shaping, often damaging, presence of man. A Yorkshire poet, his style s is recognisable in the way that he tends to use tough vocabulary and an intensity in his use of imagery.
Joe Orton’s ‘Loot’ Orton’s brilliant 1965 satirical biting farce ‘Loot’, exposes the hypocrisy and double-standards that Orton claimed were rampant in middle-class post-war Britain. It satirises the Roman Catholic Church, social attitudes to death, and the integrity of the police force. It follows the fortunes of two young thieves, Hal and Dennis with hilarious and absurd consequences. If you would like to read the Syllabus in full, log on to the WJEC website at:http://www.eduqas.co.uk/qualifications/english-literature/as-a-level/
The new A-level specification gives importance to wide reading. You will not gain the full benefits of the course if you restrict yourself to the set texts. We have an excellent library that is well-stocked with challenging academic material both in-house and online academic publications that will support both your study of the A Level course and prepare your for university courses.
Consequently, the English Department organises a good deal of extension work both through class and through the Literary Society which meets once a week at lunchtime. The Department also runs a Literary Lecture Series for which lecturers and speakers are invited to deliver talks to A Level students on a range of topics that both enhance and supplement the texts studied on the course. Previous speakers have included visiting academics from UCL, Nottingham and Oxford Universities. This is supported by the Literary Critical Reading group and the additional study groups that the Department runs to assist students wishing to go on to read English at university including ELAT preparation for Oxbridge candidates. Beyond all this, the Department keeps in touch with ex-Latymer undergraduates and graduates who keep us informed about university English departments, and who are happy to help and advise Sixth Formers in respect of their university choices.
Above all, the syllabus stresses the individuality of your judgment: your work should reflect your own temperament and values. At the same time we shall help you to justify your opinions in writing and discussion. Disciplined argument is an essential ally of intuition and insight and an essential skill needed for most university courses or careers.
We shall encourage you to read closely and to appreciate why careful analysis can be rewarding and enjoyable. We shall also help you to appreciate the historical and social contexts in which literary works are written and the ways in which different critical judgments can be developed and substantiated
Although most of the texts for each module have to be decided in advance by your teachers, there is tremendous scope for reading around those texts and contexts independently. The very broadness of a subject like English allows for students to explore the discipline in a variety of ways. In those texts chosen by your teachers, there will be considerable scope for your own judgment. There is no such thing as a correct interpretation of a text, and our lessons and the assignments to which they lead, will always emphasise the importance of each student’s insight and initiative.
You will have two teachers for this course, the work divided equally between them. Every teacher of literature has a distinctive approach and particular enthusiasms - and it is important for you to realise that there are many ways in which one can engage with literature creatively and successfully.
The minimum requirements are those of entry into the Sixth Form.
Component 1: Prose
Written Examination: 2 hours - 50% of qualification
Section A: Prose fiction pre-1900 (closed-book) One question in two parts based on the reading ‘Jane Eyre’
Section B: Prose fiction post-1900 (closed-book)
One question from a choice of two based on the reading of ‘Wide Sargasso Sea’
Component 2: Poetry and Drama
Written Examination: 2hours - 50% of qualification
Section A: Poetry (open-book, clean copy) One question from a choice of two based on the reading of Ted Hughes’ poetry
Section B: Drama (closed-book) One question in two parts based on the reading of ‘Loot’
We make use of just about every approach you could think of. The basis of our work is a seminar/discussion arrangement, but you should also expect to engage in role-playing, acting, reporting back, presentations and other forms of active involvement. You will work in pairs and groups as well as in a seminar. We run theatre and other study trips whenever the opportunity arises.
Whatever teaching methods may be used, it will be your approach to learning that will bring success. You should be prepared to join in and make your presence felt.
Almost anything you like! English is widely accepted as a subject that encourages imaginative flair and careful reasoning. The combination of these qualities is attractive to universities and employers.
Apart from English degrees (and related subjects such as foreign languages and History), English A-level is often accepted for admission to degrees in other disciplines, including Science, Medicine and Law.
Above all, what you gain from the course should stay with you throughout your life. Whatever degree and job you decide to do, the ability to read great literature confidently and with enjoyment will most surely make a difference to you.