The study of English can focus closely on the mechanics within particular texts, or the cultural and artistic contexts of their production, including history, politics and critical theory.
⌛️Last updated: Aug. 5, 2020, 10:40 a.m.
Here are some general resources related to English. These should be a useful introduction, regardless of which English-related course you’re interested in and where you might want to study it.
Podcasts are a great way of integrating English into your everyday life - listen while you’re doing the dishes or on a walk. Have a notebook handy, make connections with anything you’ve already read or thought, and follow up anything you think is interesting - this process of further research is something you might want to show evidence of in your personal statement.
‘In Our Time’ 🔗 🌟 Great for introductions to particular texts. Try the episode talking about the life and poetry of WH Auden, or alternatively the poem ‘Sir Gawain and the Green Knight’.
‘Free Thinking’ 🔗 Episodes on Wordsworth and the parallels between Victorian poetry and science are really interesting!
‘Great Lives’ 🔗 Perfect for introductions to key literary figures, including Enid Blyton and PG Wodehouse.
‘Have You Heard George’s Podcast?’ 🔗 This is a great (recent-ish) spoken word podcast which explores the role of audiences and characterisation in various forms of literature.
Oxford podcasts 🔗 🌟 Oxford has provided loads of lecture series, available here for free! This is great for allowing you to expand your knowledge and to get a taste of undergraduate teaching (not limited to Oxford!)
Browse these sites to discover new texts and take notes as you go. This sort of independent research and engagement is useful in preparing for university, and might form the basis for a part of your personal statement!
Project Gutenberg 🔗 A library of eBooks, predominantly for older texts, which has been made freely available. The texts aren’t always completely accurate, but if you’re just wanting to get a feel for a text, this is still a great resource!
TEAMS Middle English Text Series 🔗 This resource collects a variety of medieval texts, for anyone to access. You absolutely don’t need to know anything about medieval texts before you start your university course, but if there is something which interests you, this is a good place to go.
Browse these sites to find out more about literary criticism, themes and writers. Pay attention to the way that blogs and essays are written, and try to engage critically with whatever you’re reading. This could inform your personal statement, and will also develop your thinking skills.
Monoskop 🔗 🌟 This is a great place to explore more obscure literary resources - you’re guaranteed to find something interesting!
The British Library blogs 🔗 There’s quite a mix of these and they’re not too long or difficult to engage with. However, be aware that they are not a comprehensive introduction to the topic being discussed! Be sure to research further anything you don’t understand.
Great Writers Inspire 🔗 🌟 A huge collection of literary themed resources (podcasts, essays, eBooks and more) made available for free by the University of Oxford. It allows you to search by writer or theme, meaning it’s great for gaining some extra knowledge about the writers and texts you decide to include in your personal statement.
Carol Rumens’ Poem of the Week Column 🔗 🌟 This column is a great example of how you could approach a close reading of a poem, which is ideal for interview prep. It’s written in a clear and accessible way, and might also help you find new poets to read.
These videos are great for getting you thinking about literature and visual media. Take notes, and keep thinking as you watch - and then follow up with further reading or writing down connections with texts you’ve already read. This process is useful for writing your personal statement and developing your knowledge.
Ted Talks: Literature 🔗 These are pretty diverse, ranging from the eccentricities of the English language to the benefits of reading slowly to improve writing style, so there should (hopefully) be something you’ll enjoy.
‘Welcome to the World of George the Poet’ 🔗 Featuring a mix of poetry, music and conversation, these episodes may encourage you to view poetry from a completely new perspective.
BBC Introducing Arts Series: ‘Screengrabbed’ 🔗 These episodes explore how literature impacts film-makers.
‘Rhyme & Reason’ 🔗 Can poetry inspire art, and vice versa?
Tilt Spoken Word 🔗 Check out this channel for some spoken word poetry performances.
Digital Theatre 🔗 🌟 If you’ve enjoyed reading a play, see if there is a performance of it on this website. You could also search for a performance on YouTube, or check out the National Theatre YouTube channel 🔗, which has some performances available for free.
These resources are great for developing your knowledge of specific authors.They could come in useful when writing your personal statement, or providing evidence of further study and understanding at interview (if applicable)!
Armando Iannucci on… Paradise Lost 🔗 🌟 A thorough and fascinating documentary on the importance of Milton’s most famous work, including some critical analysis and possible interpretations.
Charles Dickens 🔗 A similar film on the life and works of Dickens.
‘Upstart Crow’ 🔗 This is pushing the limits of relevance, but may influence your view of Shakespeare!
Did you enjoy a particular book? Read more of the same! It’s more important to show your enthusiasm for literature, than to read books because you think that you should have read them. If you enjoyed a novel by a particular writer, check out your local library and see if you can find books in the same genre or from the same period.
Image credit: Gonville and Caius by Akil Hashmi