Friday 6 August 2021

The Best Coffee Spots in Newcastle

In true English Literature student style, below are my top coffee spots in Newcastle:

The Canny Goat

You cannot go wrong with The Canny Goat! The coffee is perfect, and the staff are so friendly and welcoming. It is tucked away from the busy main streets of Newcastle, so it is the ideal place for a quiet coffee, a catch-up with friends, or for a uni work session. They also serve locally sourced light bites and cakes, and if you collect stamps on one of their stamp cards, you can get your eighth coffee for free.

Opening Hours and Address
Monday - Friday: 8.00am - 6.00pm 
Saturday: 10.00am - 5.00pm 
Sunday - Closed 

8 Monk Street 
Newcastle upon Tyne 

Cake Stories 

I've always loved Cake Stories, but they've recently just opened a new shop in Hoults Yard, which is off the scale! With a lovely outside seating area (think bright and colourful shipping containers and comfy sofas), it's another class hangout spot. The red velvet cake, cappuccino and raspberry brownie stack were a hit with my friends and I. 

Opening Hours and Address
Monday - Thursday: 8.30am - 5.30pm
Friday: 8.30am - 7pm
Weekends: 10am - 7pm

Hoults Estate
Walker Rd
Newcastle upon Tyne 

The Jesmond branch is also lovely too. 

12 Brentwood Ave, 
West Jesmond, 
Newcastle upon Tyne 
NE2 3DH 

Monday - Friday: 8.00am - 8.00pm
Saturday - Sunday: 9.00am - 8.00pm

Backyard Bikeshop 

If you would like brunch or a coffee stop with a different view of Newcastle’s Quayside, right under the Tyne Bridge, the Backyard Bike Shop is the perfect place. The cappuccino was lovely and hot, and really hit the spot. The Backyard Bike shop also serve the infamous Dot Bagels: the simple sausage bagels were so filling and tasty. The staff are also really lovely and the service was great.

Opening Hours and Address 
Monday - Friday: 9.00am - 5.00pm 
Weekends: 9.00am - 4.00pm 

Hillgate Quay
NE8 2BH 

Friday 30 July 2021

Writing a Master's Research Proposal (English Literature)

Writing a proposal for a research master's application can be tricky, especially when you're in third year with a lot going on. Below are my tips on how to get started.

Highlight the Obvious 

Whoever is reading your proposal may not be as clued up on your chosen topic or texts as you are. Therefore, make sure you include definitions of key movements your texts belong to, as well as any details of the key historical backgrounds and contexts of your texts, even if you think they're obvious to your reader.

Be Clear on Your Details (Literary Movements etc.)

One important thing to remember, especially when dealing with texts and their contexts, is to be clear on your finer details. It's worth reminding yourself of the dates the texts were published and when they are actually set, as sometimes there can be an overlap of contexts, and you should be showing your reader you've considered these minute details. 

Look at Theoretical and Philosophical Backgrounds

Delving deeper into the theoretical and philosophical backgrounds of any literary movements you are including is also important. As Master's level is a step up from Bachelors, showing your reader you have a wide and deep knowledge of your texts and their backgrounds will stand you in good stead.

Refine Your Intentions / Research Outcomes 

Being clear in your intentions for your research is also important. Having a clear research outcome, with one or two sub-questions you want to explore will make your proposal clear and concise. It forces you to be confident in what you're exploring, and stops your proposal being too long. 

Why is Your Project Important?

As you move from undergraduate to postgraduate level, when thinking about your dissertation, it's important to think about where you work would fit into the current climate. To do this, even just simply explaining why you think your project is important and what led you to want to write about your topic is a good starting point. 

Thursday 15 April 2021

Dissertation Tips (English Literature Degree)

Writing a dissertation in the middle of a pandemic is no mean feat. If you're in third year and in the midst of your project, or in second year and wondering how you can get a head start, below are some tips that will get you well on the way to a first class degree. 

Start Early & Organise Your Secondary Reading 

Starting some secondary reading as early as possible will help you in the long run. You will be able to form a clear argument, and you will ensure that you do not have too much to do in the later stages of your project. I've found that creating a really simple table with these headings has helped me to organise my secondary reading: source title, quote, pages, publishing and page range, and additional information. It makes everything simple and clear, and it also allows you to easily keep track of how much reading you've done.

You Can't Read Everything 

If you're passionate about your topic, it can be tempting to want to read everything ever written about your author, but it's impossible. Planning your thesis statement for your dissertation as well as each of your chapters, and bearing these in mind as you read around your topic can be useful. When you get to the stage of writing up your dissertation, you need to scale down your research so you're only reading about things that are really relevant to your topic. 

Create Extra Notes Documents for your Chapters 

Especially in the editing stages, having a spare document for each of your chapters for you to copy and paste any sections you delete means you do not lose anything. If you decide you want to add a section back into your chapter, you have a document with all of your extra snippets to hand. 

Mark Your Pages 

There has been so many times where I went to go back to a page in a text, thinking I will remember where a specific line or passage is. To make your life easier, have index tabs or post it notes to hand as you're reading. That way, you won't miss anything that you might want to go back to.

Look for Societies or Festivals on Twitter 

Following any societies linked to your author on Twitter can be hugely beneficial, as often they retweet useful articles for your wider reading, and you can find other students and academics who are writing on similar people and topics to you. Sometimes there are also festival events that are put on that are linked to your author, and due to the pandemic, a lot of them are now conducted through Zoom. Often, you can attend events you might not have originally had access to. 


Wednesday 12 August 2020

Book Review: The Testaments

The Testaments is told in the perspectives of Aunt Lydia and Offred’s biological children, Agnes and Nicole, charting their interactions with their respective ‘families’ and their roles within the world of Gilead. Soon enough, the characters interact through the seamless chapter plotting, as the inner-workings of Gilead are revealed. It’s hard to not give things away, but the plotline will certainly have you on your feet.

Atwood, obviously, skilfully crafts language that is also addictive; regardless of the novel being 300 plus pages, it is still a relatively quick read, as every chapter leaves you wanting more. Aunt Lydia’s perspective was my particular favourite; Atwood’s subtle word choices allow the reader to delve deeper into how the Aunt’s interact with each other.

I know there has been some divided opinion and controversy surrounding The Testaments, so I expected not to enjoy it as much as I did. I tried to read it two times in the past year and failed to get past the first 100 pages, though, so I would recommend you make sure you have the time to give it your full attention. I really enjoyed reading it this summer with no pressing reading to do. The ending, which has a similar format to the ending of The Handmaid’s Tale, tied the novel together perfectly, as well as tying the duology together nicely, too. Overall, the novel didn’t disappoint at all: regardless of what controversy surrounds it, I certainly would put it to the top of your reading pile.
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