Wednesday 1 July 2020

How to Prep for University Seminars (English Literature Student)

Preparing for lectures and seminars, especially when you’re in first year, can be tricky. As a third 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 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 does happen, it’s a good idea to read as much as you can as well as reading a detailed summary and looking up quotes for any chapters or acts you haven’t had a chance to read yet. I would also strive to finish that text soon after a seminar so when you have to choose texts 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 interesting quotes and their page numbers, along with my thoughts on them. 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 others, 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 really beneficial to do this as you start to form your own opinions on a text by agreeing or disagreeing with a literary critic. This means you have more to contribute to your seminar discussions as you’ve extended your knowledge and built on the groundwork you’ve already started by making basic notes on the text.

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