English Literature Resources 2021-22
The Latest Articles from Emagazine and English Review Magazine
Emagazine April 2022 Articles
An interview with Malachi McIntosh – editor of Wasafiri: Emagazine co-editor Barbara Bleiman talk to Malachi McIntosh, editor and publishing director of Wasafiri, about his relationship with literature, his views about postcolonialism and writing by people of colour and his recommended reading for A-level studies.
Psychoanalytic views – interpreting Hamlet and Gertrude: Hester Glass draws on production decisions for Hamlet over time, alongside psychoanalytic reading of the play, to examine the relationship between Hamlet and Gertrude and ask how persuasive these readings are.
Platonic love in female metaphysical poetry: Teacher Sophie Harrold suggests the ways in which two poets, Anne Bradstreet and Katherine Philips, draw on Plato’s ideas about truth and beauty to explore the power of love between people.
‘The rest of my life stretches out as an emptiness before me’ – Miss Kenton in The Remains of the Day: John Hathaway examines how Ishiguro constructs Miss Kenton as a character and explores why it’s difficult to disentangle her characterisation from that of Mr Stevens and his view of her.
Pop culture linguistics – performed language in film and TV shows: Analysing film or TV language has some potential pitfalls but linguist Paul Flanagan shows how rich such study can be, if you keep at the forefront of your thinking the fact that it’s ‘performed’ language, produced and scripted rather than naturally occurring.
A Doll’s House – subverting theatrical conventions, challenging society’s rules: A Level student Elizabeth Woods, shows how Ibsen’s play subverted the dramatic conventions of his time, in order to disturb and challenge Victorian notions of womanhood, female behaviour and marriage. She argues that the radical dramatic form and messages are integrally related.
Truce connection – trauma and joy in A Thousand Splendid Suns: Nicolas Tredell argues that, for all the trauma and suffering in Hosseini’s novel, there is also the possibility for great joy, expressed through language, sensory descriptions and in the potential for ‘true connections’ between people.
A soldier’s voice – Isaac Rosenberg’s war poetry: Mike Peters suggests that despite differences in Rosenberg’s background to that of ordinary soldiers, it is their experience that is foregrounded in his poetry and it is through their eyes that he depicts, so graphically, the experience of World War 1.
Combatting accent bias in the world of work – the quest for equality: Teacher Jenni Kemp uses the example of the furore over attacks on presenter Alex Scott’s accent to explore attitudes to accents and ways of overcoming accent bias.
Time and queer identity in Mrs Dalloway: For A-level student, Katie Saunders, the ‘queer moment’ in Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway is of key importance, both in her writer’s way of representing time and memory in fiction and in her disruption of the heteronormative thinking of her time.
Once upon a time – gendered language in children’s literature: Clare Mellor examines the language of fairy tales and picture books, drawing on research to reveal the gender stereotypes of conventional fairy tales and to look at how this has been changing in more recent books for children.
Teaching and learning in The Tempest: In this article, Andrew Green explores the many ways in which Shakespeare deals with the idea of education in The Tempest.
‘The one I’ll keep’ – the permanent impact of impermanent relationships in Skirrid Hill: In Thomas Church’s view, romantic and sexual relationships are at the heart of this collection by Owen Sheers, with a particular focus on the impact of separation and feelings of permanent change when these come to an end.
Doubles, mirrors and ghosts – exploring the Gothic in Wide Sargasso Sea: Rebecca Shapland shows how Jean Rhys’ use of Gothic symbolism reveals the cruel effects of colonialism, not just on the characters in her novel but on us too, as we are all culturally and personally ‘haunted’ by dominant historical narratives.
An interview with Billy Clark on pragmatics: Billy Clark has just published Pragmatics: The Basics, a book introducing this most fascinating and complex area of linguistics. Dan Clayton put some question to him about pragmatics on behalf of emagazine.
Illness in Wuthering Heights – physical and mental: One would be wrong to take Nelly’s view of the characters as that of Emily Bronte. So argues Lucy McIlwraith, suggesting that their physical sickness, but more importantly their emotional and mental anguish, is laid bare for the reader.
Prejudice and vulnerability – Desdemona and Othello’s marriage: A Level student Maya Heuer-Evans argues that racial prejudice, the othering of Othello and the characters’ internalisation of the misogyny and racism in their worlds are at the heart of the tragic destruction of their marriage.
East Midlands English – ey up mi duck! East Midlands English has, to date, received little attention from linguists. Natalie Braber has been putting that right and this article she shares the reasons for the lack of interest and the distinguishing features of the fascinating variety.
Emagazine February 2022 Articles
The case of South East England – dialect contact and language change: Linguist Amanda Cole has been researching language change in Essex, where she was brought up. Here she introduces the complexities involved in dialect contact, exploring how it plays out in her own research and that of others.
Othello – a tragedy of impoliteness: Teacher Caroline Godfrey’s exploration of spoken interaction in Othello is just what A Level Lang / Lit students need – but it’s also a great read for Literature students, revealing how and why Shakespeare’s dialogue is so psychologically powerful and convincing.
Emma – cruelty, style, form: Professor Richard Jacobs’ discussion of Austen’s complex novel, with its ground-breaking voice and cleverly patterned structure, leads us to pair unexpected characters with each other, note the many subtle ironies and question both the heroine herself and the supposedly happy ending she is given.
Skipping or running: Exploring the tension between regular form and spontaneity in the Forward Poems of the Decade.
Costume in a Streetcar Named Desire: Paying close attention to the costumes in William’s play reaps rich rewards – they are key signifiers of social background, class and one’s sense of self, throwing characters into strong contrast with each other. So argues teacher, Gabi Reigh.
Decay, death and renewal in The Waste Land: 2022 is the centenary of the publication of The Waste Land, so it seems especially fitting to have an article on it in this issue of emag. Simon Mold explores the ideas at the heart of the poem that are encapsulated in its title.
F*ck yeah! – why you should study swearing: What’s so interesting about swearing? Linguist Robbie Love has been using corpora to look at changes over time and draws on his research to explain not only what he’s discovered but also other angles that might be worth investigating.
Feste and Lucio: These two characters in Twelfth Night and Measure for Measure have a great deal in common, suggest Clare Jackson, in the roles they play as comedians and commentators and as fascinating mirrors to the themes and characters of the main plots.
Rossetti and Ibsen – shifting concepts of womanhood: Eliza Ekstein Frankl explores Rossetti’s poetry in the light of Ibsen’s play, throwing into relief the ways in which Ibsen shocked the world with his radicalism while Rosetti offered a less overtly defiant, but equally powerful plea for change.
A Farewell to Arms – seeing and not seeing in: Ian Todd suggests that Hemingway’s novel shares a modernist aesthetic, in which his use of light and dark imagery is part of a broader set of ideas about reality and ways of seeing – or avoiding seeing – what’s there before you.
Shall I compare ‘Thee’ to the more formal ‘You’? Shakespeare’s use of the second person: Peter Smith explores the shades of meaning in the use of the second person in four plays – The Merchant of Venice, King Lear, The Tempest and Macbeth.
Are you woke to woke? It’s become the go-to insult of anyone who objects to social justice movements, or who wants to rail against a younger generation’s perceived sensitivities, but where does woke come from and why has it become so ubiquitous? Dan Clayton tries to answer this question.
Glamour, mystery and style – Paris, a city of dreams: Teacher and writer Varsha Shah explores a key theme in the AQA English Language and Literature anthology of texts, drawing out some recurring ideas and motifs.
The Madonna and the Whore – women in gothic texts: A Level student, Olivia Coe, submitted this piece on Dracula and the Bloody Chamber to emagazine editor, Barbara Bleiman, was so impressed with her first draft that she worked with her on polishing it for publication. Here is the final result!
Words of 2021: Tony Thorne is one of the country’s leading lexicographers and lexicologists, tracking new words, and new uses of words, to explore and chart their use. In this interview, we caught up with Tony to find out more about the words of 2020 and 2021, two years full of big events in the world and in the world of words.
God, meaning and the limits of language – A passage to India: Lucy Solomon argues that while E.M. Forster’s novel is all about the search for ‘the real India’, this raises a range of deeper, more philosophical and spiritual questions about people, connections, language and religious faith.
Reader, I married him – love, marriage and the development of realism in Jane Eyre: Lauren Watson connects Charlotte Bronte’s portrayal of the central romantic relationships of Jane Eyre with the rise of realism over the late 18th to mid-19th centuries, suggesting that Bronte is not only presenting a new kind of marriage but also offering a new kind of novel.
English Standards – lessons from history: Linguist David Hann looks back at the history of regulation and standardisation of English to explore the reasons for it and the process by which it happens. He explores how the perennial debates around standardisation show how much pressure there is to maintain a single prestige dialect at the expense of all others.
Emagazine December 2021 Articles
Pandemic metaphors: Professor Elena Semino has done significant research on metaphor and how we use it in our lives. here she draws on recent work by many linguists across the globe to explore the implications and effects of the metaphors we use to talk about Covid-19.
Alienation, reification, and a poverty of imagination in ‘Never Let Me Go’: Rebecca Shapland asks why the characters in ‘Never Let Me Go’ don’t try to rebel as one might perhaps expect in a dystopian novel. She draws on several Marxist theories to reveal how the novel explores power and shows how compliance is achieved.
More than minor – characters in ‘The Tempest’, ‘Much Ado’ and ‘Measure for Measure’: Diane Crimp challenges the idea that minor characters and sub-plots are just there for comic ‘relief’, showing how the characters’ behaviour offers a different angle on the key issues and ideas playing out in the main plots.
The reluctant fundamentalist – disconnecting and belonging: Roshan Doug explores issues of otherness and exclusion in Mohsin Hamid’s novel, focusing particularly on the parts of the novel set in America and the representation of the narrator’s experience as an immigrant.
Reading Thoughtfully – the complex and the simple: Exemplifying his ideas using various texts, including a poem by Christina Rossetti, Malcolm Hebron explores why the simple is sometimes more powerful than the complex, both in texts themselves and in writing about them.
Conversations with Corinne one year on: Gillian Thompson has been recording her two granddaughters, Leonie and Corinne, since the eldest, Leonie, was two years old. Several articles analysing their speech features have appeared in emag (issues 74, 79, 83, 86 and 90), with transcripts and videos of their conversation available on the emag website. Here she adds to these, with fresh data on Corinne, now four years and three months old.
The tyranny of custom in Shakespearean Tragedy: Philip Smithers ranges across several plays and comment by contemporary philosophers Bacon, Montaigne and others, to show Shakespeare’s interest in the idea of custom and habit and his characters’ desire to ‘overleap’ what’s expected of them.
Is it rude to point? – this and that about ‘this’ and ‘that’: Following on from her article on the word ‘the’ in the last issue of emagazine (Beyond Pronouns, issue 93), Professor Lynne Murphy discusses the demonstrative determiners ‘this’, ‘that’, ‘these’ and ‘those’ with an equally fascinating exploration of the ways in which they express much more than just straightforward spatial relationships.
A deadly thirst for knowledge – Bram Stoker’s Dracula: The main protagonist of Stoker’s novel is not just a monster, argues teacher, Alice Reeve-Tucker. His intelligence, learning and quest for knowledge in his earlier life are at the very heart of the novel’s exploration of transgression and evil.
The Little Mermaid: A Level student Florence Wolter wrote this story while studying ‘The Bloody Chamber’. It imitates Angela Carter’s style and we hope you agree that it works brilliantly as a story in its own right too.
A perfectly tangible body – the undoing of the body in The Great Gatsby: Andrew Atherton explores the role of the body in Fitzgerald’s novel, suggesting that it comes to represent many key themes in the text, making concrete the ways in which the society is brutally fractured.
Investigating idiolect – drawing together the threads: emagainze co-editor, Barbara Bleiman, explains the value of investigating your own idiolect, not just for its own sake but also as a way of deepening your thinking about all the different aspects of linguistics that you are learning on your course.
All My Sons – there’s something bigger than the family: This is a play where terrible things are done by one individual, Joe Keller. Yet the playwright allows the audience to feel deep compassion for this man. Why does Miller seek to do this, ask Varsha Shah, and how does he achieve it?
American pioneering women – Antonia Shimerda, Carrie Meeber and Ma Joad: English teacher, Amy Taylor-Davis, examines three characters in American fiction who epitomise the pioneering spirit, whether striking out west in the open spaces of the country, or in the new urban environments of the early twentieth century.
Students in online breakout rooms – a language investigation: When teacher, Anna Wexler, saw her students exchanges in breakout rooms in Microsoft Teams meetings, she noticed some interesting contrasts with their small group discussion in the classroom that she though worth of further investigation. With their permission, she shares some of her thinking about it here.
The Merchant’s Tale – the dangers of desire: John Hathaway argues that ‘The Merchant’s Tale’ is less anti-feminist satire and more a warning against unfettered male desire, showing where Januarie’s lust takes him and how dangerous that proves to be.
The Mother Country: Georgina Ramsay interrogates the concept of the Mother Country in Andrea Levy’s ‘Small Island’. The novel follows the experiences of its four narrators, who are all living in London after the Second World War: Queenie and Bernard, an English couple and Hortense and Gilbert, a Jamaican couple.
Suicide in Hamlet’s First Soliloquy: The theme of suicide is startlingly and emotionally introduced by Hamlet in Act 1, Scene 2 – but there is more to this topic than the simple fact that Hamlet is suicidal, as A Level student Abi Marett reveals.
Frankenstein – so much more than a story: Hester Glass suggests that Shelley’s novel rests on deep philosophical thinking, a tradition of poetic endeavour and a recognition of the power of language in human life. She argues that these combine to make it much more than a simple story, or even a novel, breaking the boundaries of genre in its complex treatment of the creature and its desires.
Emagazine September 2021 Articles
Re-thinking Cleopatra: A woman of infinite variety: Anna Sarchet questions whether Cleopatra, one of the most famous of Shakespeare’s female characters, is in fact little more than a sexist, racist stereotype.
The wonder of bilingualism: Vanja Karanovic draws on her research and her personal experiences observing her nephew, Edi, to explore some of the underlying theories and studies about the ways in which bilingual children acquire language, busting some of the myths.
The Bloody Chamber meets The Gruffalo: What started as a little light relief at the end of term turned into something that was both highly inventive and illuminating for Years 13s at Surbiton High School, as their children’s story / poem and their commentary reveal.
A Raisin in the sun: Giles Gough introduces a play and a playwright, who are not as well known as they should be in the UK, drawing parallels between her work and that of the more celebrated writer, Arthur Miller.
A novelist’s recipe for atonement: Daniel Altshuler, an expert in linguistics and literature, explains the method of ‘narrative frustration’ that is at the heart of Ian McEwan’s novel, allowing the novelist to explore the nature of storytelling as well as he search for atonement of his protagonist and narrator.
The cost of success: pitfalls for the female investigator: The ‘rules’ for what an investigator should be like have long been defined by male writers with male values. Catherine Hartley examines some ‘classic’ female investigators to see how their creators have played with these rules and then goes on to explore more recent incarnations of the female detective to examine shifting ideas about the genre and its central figure.
Investigating Cumbrian accent and dialect: Neil Hutchinson and his students set about finding out more about their own local dialect by talking to a society whose mission was to ‘celebrate and preserve’ the speech of the region. Their research is not only an introduction to the Cumbrian dialect but also raises key ideas about accent and dialect and provides a model for anyone undertaking a language investigation of this king.
In cold blood: from the non fiction novel to literary true crime: To what extent is Truman Capote’s ground-breaking text a brand new genre? Is it, rather, a reinvention or amalgam of some existing genres? Katherine Limmer tries to answer this, and in so doing, explores what is special about Capote’s narrative technique, from description and voice to his use of a chorus of onlookers.
Transgressions of time and place in Heaney’s poetry: A Level student Syed Hur Shah considers how history, memory – both personal and collective – and the inevitable passage of time, are all deeply rooted in the physical landscape of Heaney’s Ireland. He traces these ideas through a cluster of poems and draws on the ideas of critic and linguist Mikhail Bakhtin to support his thinking.
Streetcar: the story of the poker night painting: In telling the story of a painting, intended for use in publicity but disliked by Jessica Tandy, the actor playing Blanche, Sarah Dukes opens up fresh ideas about the characters and their lives, and how the playwright and the actors felt about them.
The strange narrator and his changing tongue: language in things fall apart: Calvin Kean show how the complex and changing narrative voice in Achebe’s novel reflects the central themes of the novel, challenging the traditions of writing about Africa, how it has been represented and whose voices have been heard.
A robot wrote my homework: language of AI: Clare Mellor offer an overview of some of the more interesting questions being asked about the way artificial intelligence is ‘creating’ its own language – including how convincing it is, how language is changing as a result of it and whether it shows gender bias.
Two Neapolitans ‘scaped: Trinculo and Stephano in The Tempest: George Norton takes us well beyond the simple account of these two characters as part of a comic subplot providing humorous interludes, to show how powerfully their words and actions develop some key themes of the play – colonialism, battles over political power and the exploitation of the weak.
The Great Gatsby: having it all?: It isn’t just Jay Gatsby for whom wealth does not provide happiness. The characters who seem to have it all – Daisy, Tom and the narrator, Nick – also fail to find fulfilment. Kate Life argues that their privileged family backgrounds, far from setting them up for success, are a root cause of this.
Beyond Pronouns: what function words say about people: Don’t take words like ‘the’, ‘and’ and ‘of’ for granted – the meanings they contribute can powerfully frame a discourse and convey strong ideological assumptions. Professor Lynne Murphy explains how and why.
John Donne and gender: two close readings: Jacob Lund examines two poems in detail, questioning whether some of the conventional readings of Donnes poetry, that foreground male power and female objectification, are as valid as might first appear.
Wild, confused, disjointed and improbable: the oddity of Wuthering Heights: Judy Simons explores the critical reception for Emily Bronte’s novel, drawing out some broader ideas about how literary judgements change over time.
Out with the old and in with the new: sociolinguistic approaches to lexical variation: Rhys Sandow draws on his own research, to outline some of the ways in which linguists study words and their use. He explains how newer methodologies reveal much about how usage relates to our identities.
Emagazine April 2021 Articles
Emagazine April 2021
Tragedy, misogyny and ‘King Lear’: Emma Smith argues that in ‘King Lear’, and in Shakespeare’s tragedies more widely, women are seen as incompatible with the tragic arc and are presented in a misogynistic way. As modern readers and audiences, how can we respond to this?
‘The Handmaid’s Tale: the power of language and the language of power: Kristina Murkett asks questions about linguistic relativism, the unreliability of Offred’s narration, and how language offers scope for subversion and a route out of passive acceptance in Atwood’s narrative.
Milton and the ‘Grand Style’: Malcolm Hebron introduces the notion of the ‘Grand Style’ and its origins, explores its most important model, ‘Paradise Lost’, and goes on to examine modern views about it, and whether and how it has found its way into contemporary literature.
‘A Streetcar Named Desire’: a tragedy of the powerless: In what sense can Tennessee Williams’ play be described as a tragedy and if so, what kind? Simon Bubb explores ways of thinking about this issue, examining the arc of the drama as well as the extent to which individual responsibility or societal pressures lead to the final, calamitous ending.
Why the picture of Dorian Gray still appeals: Mike Peters gets to the heart of what makes Oscar Wilde’s novel still resonate with modern readers, despite the fact that some aspects of the narrative could seem a bit dated. In so doing, he offers insight into what is special about this novel.
Hardy and his Tess: Hardy’s work was at one time dismissed and belittled for all kinds of reasons. Richard Jacobs argues that these judgements are hard to sustain, not least of all when you look at the intricate and subtle patterns in the narrative, the complex use of cultural allusions and the character of Tess herself.
Poetry isn’t meant to be easy: ‘Out of The Bag’ by Seamus Heaney: In this piece, emagazine editor Barbara Bleiman offers ways of thinking about a difficult poem, and routes into greater understanding, using this Edexcel anthology poem as her example.
‘Dr Faustus’: the unsettling spirit of man: Roshan Dough recontextualises Christopher Marlowe’s ‘Dr Faustus’ and explains the relevance of the tragedy for a 21st-century audience, suggesting that its contradictions and uncomfortable questions give it is continuing power.
‘Fahrenheit 451’: warning and inspiration: Here, teacher Varsha Shah explains what makes this novel such an important work, not just because of its significance in the history of dystopian fiction, but also for its qualities as a piece of superb fiction writing.
Much to say on both sides: how to use criticism effectively in essays on ‘Othello’: Sally Mcdougal teaches the Edexcel specification, where students need to make use of criticism in support of their ideas in questions on Shakespeare. Here she offers advice for students on successful ways of doing this in writing about ‘Othello’.
The detective in English literature: ‘Elementary, my dear Watson’: From classical literature and the Bible on, crime has been a strong focus of writing, and literary texts ever since have remained fascinated with it. Within such texts the figure of the detective looms large. In this article, Andrew Green considers tis seminal cultural figure.
Haunting repetition and mesmerising eyes: ‘Woman at Point Zero’: Nawal El Saadawi’s novel has been described as a classic in the feminist literary canon and is a popular IB text. Here, Alice Reeve-Tucker focuses on the imagery of eyes and the role it plays in offering connection and hope to a woman whose life seems devoid of these things.
Landscapes of the mind: narrative strategy in ‘The Awakening’: Judy Simons reveals how Kate Chopin was herself ‘awakened’ to new kinds of narrative possibilities through her reading of Maupassant short stories, and explores how her seminal novel took full advantage of these fresh ways of telling a story, to the outrage of contemporary readers.
Emagazine February 2021 Articles
‘The Lonely Londoners’: Georgina Ramsey examines Samuel Selvon’s realistic depiction of post-war Caribbean migrants’ experiences, counteracting the conventional, wholly positive narratives of this period of migration to Britain.
Philip Larkin: the influence of Yeats and Hardy: Michael Cade-Stewart explains the importance of understanding the debt owed to two great poets of the past, when reading Larkin’s poetry. He demonstrates this through a detailed exploration of one poem, ‘At Grass’.
Books in books: exploring readers and reading in literary works: Jessica Mason raises questions about our attitudes to the books we read and what that tells the world about us, and the shows how these common, value-laden views of book-reading are used by novelists to present their characters.
A world of love in store: passion, possession and materialism in ‘The Rover’: Nigel Wheale uses the contexts of time to uncover the ways in which Aphra Behn’s play presents love as a form of trade, to highlight the new possibilities opened up by women taking up roles in the theatre and to examine the relationship between this play and Shakespeare’s ‘Othello’.
‘The Portrait of a Lady’: ‘a single character’: Fiona Macdonald explores how and why Henry James chose to centre his novel on an unattached woman, Isobel Archer, who is travelling from America to Europe and searching for her identity.
‘Love’s not time’s fool’: time vs love in ‘Ratpure’: Focusing on three poems from Duffy’s collection of sonnets on love, John Hathaway examines her exploration of the age-old poetic theme of the threatening, oppositional relationship between time and love.
Pieces of coloured glass: the kaleidoscope of 20th-century women’s writing: Judy Simons unveils how three modern women writers, Carter, Atwood and Rhys, draw extensively on their reading of other texts, in different traditions, to create new works of great power and startling inventiveness.
A crowded stage: critical responses to ‘Hamlet’ over time: Diana Hallam’s whistle-stop tour of critical responses to Shakespeare’s most commended upon plays provides you with a great overview of the landscape, with key criticism from Shakespeare’s own time to the present day.
‘Jane Eyre’: searching for a human identity: In exploring repeated metaphors and motifs, from mirrors and fairies to strangers and spectres, Kayleigh Simpson lays bare the theme of identity in the novel and Jane’s journey from the unfamiliar and abhuman to the fully human.
Blake’s songs: symbols of slavery: Blake’s poetry speaks out against all kinds of enslavement of human beings, mental and emotional as well as physical. Simon Mold puts this in the context of the 1790s and Blakes awareness of the horrors of the slave trade itself.
Can the heart hold good? Willie Dunne’s journey in ‘A Long Long Way’: Claire Saunders investigates the core idea behind Sebastian Barry’s novel, that the human heart is fatally damaged by the experience of warfare, and shows how the narrative is constructed to lead us to some very bleak conclusions.
The unfaithful wife: from Guinevere to ‘Rebecca’: Catherine Hartley goes all the way back to medieval tales of courtly love to explore changing views on married women’s infidelity, suggesting that times have changed but the complexities and paradoxes of the treatment of women in literature remain constant.
Women and power: ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’: Salima Abbasi Freeman argues that the presentation of two women with two different identities is central to Hosseini’s presentation of a complex, multidimensional and uncliched view of Afghan women and their lives.
English Review April 2022 Articles
Race and gender – Othello’s troubling relevance: Emma Smith asks whether it is possible to read Shakespeare’s play in a way that is both feminist and anti-racist.
Stranger than fiction – Agatha Christie and true crime: Nicola Onyett examines the real-life stories that inspired some of Agatha Christie’s most famous works, and the light they shed on her attitudes to morality and justice.
Anniversaries – Maurice: E. M. Forster’s Maurice is a novel about homosexuality, written at a time when law made it unpublishable. Ninety years after Forster first revised the text, and just over 50 years since first publication, Foteini Dimirouli delves into the novel’s exploration of intimacy and connection within a hostile world.
Exam skills – classic texts, new approaches – Frankenstein: In our series that offers alternative readings to established set texts, Luke McBratney views Mary Shelley’s most famous creation through the lens of historicism.
Trees in Death of a Salesman: Jonny Patrick examines the significance of trees and timber in Arthur Miller’s play.
Texts in context – the works of Tennessee Williams: Williams wrote prolifically: over 40 full-length plays, many one-act pieces and short stories, two novels, poetry and a memoir. Viewing A Streetcar Named Desire and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof in the context of these and the world in which Williams wrote, brings fresh perspectives on these works.
Shakespeare in Feminine Gospels: Examining the references to Shakespeare in one of Carol Ann Duffy’s best-known collections can shed light on the methods and ideas of both writers, argues Nicola Onyett.
Heart of Darkness – into the interior: Alan MacColl considers Joseph Conrad’s 1899 novel in the light of nineteenth-century ideas about Africa, the unconscious mind and the development of ‘civilisation’.
Portrait without a frame – Joyce’s Stephen Dedalus: Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man presents its central character, Stephen Dedalus, in a unique and challenging way. Michael Mayo shows how psychoanalytic theory and comparison with Dickens illuminate the reasons behind this odd form of narration.
Prospects – Working with words: Charlotte Purkis highlights prospects for future employment that build on the study of English literature and language in directions you might not have considered.
If you liked this – The Franchise Affair by Josephine Tey: If you like Agatha Christie, her crime-writing contemporary Josephine Tey is quite a contrast, but in The Franchise Affair (1948) Cicely Havely suggests you will find her both engaging and compelling.
Larkin’s ‘Sunny Prestatyn’ – seaside humour? Luke McBratney considers whether the comedy in Larkin’s poem is clever and satirical or simply offensive.
Insights – Mr Wickham – social exclusion in Pride and Prejudice: Nicola Onyett explores the politics of social exclusion in Jane Austin’s novel.
Contemporary Poets – Linda Black
English Review February 2022 Articles
Sonnets of the Caribbean: Kelsi Delaney explores the sonnet’s evolution and John Agard’s poetic revolution of the form.
Exam Skills – the art of choosing: Continuing our series on essay writing, Cathy O’Neill offers tips on making good choices.
Open your ears – listening to Shakespeare’s language: David Dunford offers convincing evidence that listening attentively is just as important as watching when it comes to gaining the most from Shakespeare’s plays.
Promoting utopia – The Importance of Being Earnest: Charlotte Purkis discusses how Oscar Wilde’s comedy both entertains and challenges with its version of a liberating fantasy world that opens the play to multiple interpretations.
‘That cannibal, the novel’ – reflecting on genre: Cathy O’Neill examines the elasticity of the novel, which is full of possibilities, often adopting many of the features of poetry.
Texts in context – All My Sons by Arthur Miller: All My Sons (1947). Arthur Miller’s second play, ran for a year on Broadway, won him a Tony Award for Best Author and established his reputation as a serious and successful dramatist.
Feminist forms in Top Girls: Focusing on the form of Top Girls, Hannah Greenstreet situates Caryl Churchill’s play in the context of feminist theatre and criticism.
Unseen Texts – theme and genre in unseen prose: Andy Haley explores what it takes to bring out the theme and genre aspects of a sociopolitical literature extract.
Educating Jane Eyre – fact and fiction: Jane Eyre’s account of her school days at Lowood are the most autobiographic part of a novel in which many elements have their origins in the author’s direct experience. Cicely Havely explores the transformation of experiences into literature.
Anniversaries – 150 years of Middlemarch: Zachary Seagar explores the fundamentals of Middlemarch as it reaches a significant milestone.
Insights – The Handmaid’s Tale and The Red Shoes: Nicola Onyett compares Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel and an unusual British film classic.
The four female laureates: Anne Varty discusses how women’s poetry has achieved a high profile in recent years through the impact of the recent appointments of female national poets across the nations of the United Kingdom.
If you liked this… Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson: If you enjoyed reading about Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale (1985) (pages 34-35), Georgia Walton suggests you might enjoy exploring Housekeeping (1980) by Atwood’s contemporary Marilynne Robinson, whose work is heavily influenced by that of some towering US literary giants.
Contemporary Poets – Steve Spence
English Review November 2021 Articles
Staging Ophelia: Cathy O’Neill questions the myth-making that surrounds Ophelia in Shakespeare’s Hamlet.
Frankly my dear…the Southern gentleman: Nicola Onyett examines the significance of the Southern gentleman in ‘Gone with the Wind’, ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ and ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’.
Exam skills – classic texts, new approaches – A Streetcar Named Desire: Luke McBratney offers alternative readings on the established set text ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ through the lens of biography.
Trapped in time – Literature’s missing children: Nicola Onyett examines the motif of the missing child in three landmark novels of the 1980s: Graham Swift’s ‘Waterland’, Margaret Atwood’s ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ and Ian McEwan’s ‘The Child in Time’.
Shakespeare’s Wounding Eyes: Lilla Grindlay explores the origins of Shakespeare’s metaphors around the capacity of the eyes to both wound and warm what they look upon.
Texts in context – Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell: George Orwell’s most famous novel has spawned cultural touchstones and tropes familiar to millions – newspeak, doublethink, Big Brother, thought police, Room 101, thoughtcrime. Its haunting vision of the future was heavily shaped by the author’s life experiences and the wider context of Britain between the First and Second World Wars.
Debating The Homecoming: Harry Derbyshire considers contrasting debates surrounding Pinter’s controversial play.
Non-exam assessments – Texts in translation: Pete Bunten looks at the implications of selecting a text in translation for NEA work.
‘Cover her face’ – the male gaze in The Duchess of Malfi: Fergus Parnaby considers how the concept of the male gaze offers an opportunity to look at The Duchess of Malfi in a different way.
Insights – Mermaids in Literature: Cathy O’Neill examines literature’s slippery fascination with mermaids.
Anniversaries – Late Romantics Poetry of 1821: In response to the bicentenary of Keats’ death, Fiona Macdonald introduces three works of poetry published in 1821.
Orwell’s literary non-fiction: Pete Bunten considers some ways of approaching literary non-fiction, using the essays and autobiographical works of George Orwell.
If you liked this…Queens of the Southern Gothic: If you enjoyed exploring representations of the American South – in texts as varies as A Streetcar Named Desure, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Gone with the Wind, To Kill a Mockingbird and The Help – Nicola Onyett suggests the work of mid-twentieth-century writers Carson McCullers and Flannery O’Connor might also appeal to you.
Contemporary Poets – Sascha Aurora Akhtar
English Review September 2021 Articles
Now I am alone? Soliloquies in Shakespeare’s tragedies: Pete Bunten explores the tragic and dramatic significance of soliloquies on Othello, King Lear and Hamlet.
Romantic Relationships in comic poems: Luke McBratney explores the contexts of poems in the AQA (B) comedy anthology.
Exam skills: From GCSE to A-level: Cathy O’Neill offers tips and advice for navigating the transition from GCSE to A-level.
Poe and Stevenson: tales of cruelty and brutality: Anna Hunt compares and contrasts the presentation of acts of violence in the short stories of Edgar Allen Poe and Robert Louis Stevenson.
Dissolving the floors of memory: Thomas Hardy and T. S. Eliot: K. E. Smith compares the ways in which Hardy and Eliot forged fractured experience into a unity, and renewed the English poetic tradition.
Texts in context: The works of Coleridge: Samuel Taylor Coleridge was a key figure among the first generation of English Romantic poets. His best-known poems were written in the decade around the turn of the eighteenth century.
New York, new man? The Great Gatsby: Andrew Ward examines the significance of settings and locations in The Great Gatsby.
If you liked this: Manhattan Transfer: If you enjoyed Andrew Ward’s take on The Great Gatsby, why not try John Dos Passos’ experimental tale of New York, Manhattan Transfer (1925)?
Agatha Christie and social change: Nicola Onyett looks at how the ‘Queen of Crime’ portrays postwar Britain in the fascinating mid-career Miss Marple mystery ‘A Murder is Announced’.
The Handmaid’s Tale: postmodern with nineteenth-century roots: Cathy O’Neill argues that reading Atwood’s novel as ‘speculative fiction’ frees us to reconsider our responses to its narration.
Insights: The Founding Fathers of Gilead: Nicola Onyett reveals the origin story behind the Sons of Jacob in ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’.
Prospects: lockdown learning: teaching English in a pandemic: Henry Fairnington discusses the ups and downs of teaching during the UK’s national lockdown, and the challenges of completing his first year in the profession during the global pandemic.
Seven hundred years of Dante: Nick Havely reflects on the impact of Dante’s ‘Divine Comedy’ on English literature, 700 years on from the poet’s death.
Contemporary poets: Helen Moore
English Review April 2021 Articles
‘Half of a Yellow Sun’: postcolonialising history: What makes ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’ such a significant work of postcolonial literature? Matthew Lecznar argues that its significance is not only to do with the novel’s historical setting.
Exam skills: writing with clarity: Using a sentence about Othello’s ‘hamartia’ as an example, Jenni Nuttall shows how to make your prose as clear and crisp as possible.
Masculinity in the aftermath of war: Charlotte Purkis investigates perspectives on wartime masculinities apparent in R. C. Sherriff’s ‘Journey’s End’ and Joan Littlewood’s ‘Oh What a Lovely War’.
Jane and ‘June’: the governess and the Handmaid: Nicola Onyett traces a pattern of striking connections between Charlotte Bronte’s ‘Jane Eyre’ and Margaret Atwood’s ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’.
Love, loss and poetry: Anna Nickerson considers how Elizabeth Bishop and Alice Meynell use different poetic forms to explore the connections between love and loss.
Texts in context: ‘The Lovely Bones’ by Alice Sebold: A literary sensation when it was published in 2002, ‘The Lovely Bones’ was Alice Sebold’s first novel. Beginning with the rape and murder of Susie Salmon, the teenage girl who narrates the book, the novel then focuses on police attempts to catch the murderer and the after-effects of Susie’s death on her parents, brother, sister and the wider community.
‘Residents from raw estates’: Larkin and working-class spaces: Jonny Patrick explores the relationships between Philip Larkin, the working class and the changing built environments of postwar England.
Anniversaries: ‘The Age of Innocence: a hieroglyphic world: Daniel Ibrahim Abdalla investigates Edith Wharton’s ambivalent portrayal of New York society in the Gilded Age.
Rage in ‘King Lear’: Cicely Havely examines how fury drives the action of the play towards its end.
Prospects: a career in cultural heritage: If you are a good communicator and enjoy visiting heritage sites, museums and visitor attractions, Harriet Purkis suggests you could look at a career in this area and use your English skills to help create innovative exhibitions for public engagement.
Insights: who on earth was Lady Rosseter? Cathy O’Neill invites us to rethink Sally Seton in ‘Mrs Dalloway’ by Virginia Woolf.
If you liked this… ‘The Hunters’ by James Salter: If you’re interested in the aftermath literature of the First World War, Cicely Havely suggests that you might like to try another war story, where the focus is comradeship and rivalry as Salter critiques the American air-force expression of masculinity in the Korean War.
English Review February 2021 Articles
Context is all: science, society and the novel: Taking examples from ‘Frankenstein’, ‘The War of the Worlds’, ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ and ‘Never Let Me Go’, Catherine Charlwood explores what these novels tell us about science when set in the context of literature.
Gender debates in ‘Twelfth Night’: Which cultural contexts might best help you understand the early modern gender transitions of Shakespeare’s ‘Twelfth Night’? Emma Smith investigates.
Exam skills: finding your voice: Continuing our series on essay writing, Cathy O’Neill suggests ways in which you can develop your individual voice.
A new servitude: the governess in ‘Emma’ and ‘Jane Eyre’: Cicely Havely compares the plight of two young women from classic literature who find themselves unable to depend on father or husband to provide them with a living.
Privet lives in ‘Spies’: Nicola Onyett examines the presentation of the mysterious Mrs Hayward in Michael Frayn’s postmodern thriller.
Texts in context: ‘New Selected Poems 1966-1987’ by Seamus Heaney: Seamus Heaney’s weighty and magisterial verse is now read, appreciated and studied around the world, but, in many ways, it springs from a very particular place: the farm on which he grew up. In the words of Carson McCullers which Heaney quotes approvingly in his early essay ‘The Sense of Place’, ‘to know who you are you have to have a place to come from’ (Heaney 1980).
Insights: the poker night in ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’: Nicola Onyett explores a powerful foreboding scene.
If you liked this…’A Vindication of the Rights of Woman’ by Mary Wollstonecraft: If you enjoyed reading about the governess’s experience on pp. 12-15, Cicely Havely recommends Mary Wollstonecraft’s ‘A Vindication of the Rights of Woman’ (1792), a title you are likely to come across as part of the background or context for many texts that foreground gender.
‘The growing green’: Gerard Manley Hopkins and trees: Jonny Patrick brings a fresh interpretation of the literary ideas of trees to Hopkins’ poetry.
The poets laureate: Alan Kent discusses the fascinating history, the decline and the revival of the poet laureate tradition in the United Kingdom.
Unseen texts: ‘The Road’ by Cormac McCarthy: Analysing an unseen extract under times conditions can seem daunting initially. Using an extract from Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Road’, Sarah McLoughlin offers ways to help you unlock a previously unseen text.
Anniversaries: entering fictional worlds: ‘His Dark Materials’: As his renowned trilogy turns 25, Margaret Kean shows how cleverly Philip Pullman’s opening pages bring us into his alternative world.
Dracula’s ‘final girl’: Fergus Parnaby investigates the role of the final girl through Stoker’s Mina Harker.
Contemporary poets: Lydia Unsworth
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