Wednesday, 4 December 2019


Prepping for lectures and seminars, especially when you’re in first year, can be tricky. As a second year student I have a simple method that works for me and hopefully will for you, too.

Read the Set Text

This sounds like an obvious step, but it’s surprising how many English Literature students don’t read the books they are set to read every week. Starting your reading before term starts and ensuring that you’re at least two weeks ahead sets you up nicely. Sometimes things pop up in life, (we’re all human), that means you might struggle to finish reading a book in a week; if that happens, it’s a good idea to read as much as you can, but read a detailed summary and look up quotes for any chapters or acts you haven’t had a chance to read yet. I would also strive to finish a text so when you choose one to write about for an assignment, you’re giving yourself the best selection possible.

Make Notes 

As I’m reading a set text, I’ll make a note of the page numbers of any interesting quotes and my thoughts on them. If they aren’t short quotes I’ll write enough of the quote so I’m able to locate it in the text, so I can get more done. Therefore, if you want to use them in your seminar discussions, you’ve got the notes easy to hand. I type up my quotes on my iPad, so if they’re discussed in the seminar I can quickly extend my notes on them. Doing some prepping before your seminar can result in some ground work to prepare you for essays and to get you thinking. Some weeks these notes might be more detailed than other weeks, but any extra work you do will benefit you hugely. I also do exactly the same with themes; I try and group my quotes into themes and do some research before my seminar on any less obvious themes I might have missed whilst reading the text.

Read Around the Set Text 

Reading around the text, especially when you’re in second and third year is so important. It is so beneficial to do this as you start to form your own opinions on a text as you can agree or disagree with a literary critic. This means you have more to contribute to your seminar discussions as you’ve extended your knowledge and you’ve built on your groundwork you’ve started by making basic notes on the text.

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