Any EngLit academics willing to answer a question?

(10 Posts)
DolorestheNewt Wed 06-Mar-19 18:43:17

I'm signing up to do a Masters in Children's Literature at Roehampton in September, but my OU degree is a bit of a Heinz 57 so the three English modules I did didn't cover much by way of theory, linguists etc. I see discussed in critical readings: structuralism, post-structuralism, Gramsci, Foucault, Barthes...

I may be worrying too much, but I fear I will be at a disadvantage when I start the course if I don't have at least a basic understanding of the most prominent of these concepts/academics. I'm also not the fastest to take on new concepts, so wanted to try to make sure I'm not starting on the back foot.

I'm Googling to try to find nicely digestible websites that explain these things, and can of course continue under my own steam, but I wondered, while I google, if anyone has a pet website they tend to direct their undergraduates to, that compiles the basics of all these these thinkers/theories and gives a kind of overview that isn't too overwhelming for each individual topic?


OP’s posts: |
ghislaine Wed 06-Mar-19 20:27:32

Try a Dummies guide? OUP also have a series called “A Very Short Introduction” although I don’t know whether they cover these theorists individually or under a critical reading text.

GeorgeTheBleeder Wed 06-Mar-19 20:43:30

I think you might be better advised to seek out the books written by relevant theorists - where they discuss their theories - rather than websites that attempt to explain them in easily digestible chunks.

(Some people have been known to get through most of an MA by downloading free samples of books to the kindle on their phone /laptop. Usually you only get the introduction, but sometimes it's a sizeable portion of the full text. Just sayin' ...)

DolorestheNewt Wed 06-Mar-19 20:55:59

GeorgeTheBleeder and Ghislaine
Both great suggestions that I will follow up. Am planning to join Roehampton library as an external user for six months anyway (which will take me through to September, which is when the programme starts) so between Kindle and the library, I should be able to access most things without having to fork out too much! Thanks so much.

OP’s posts: |
SarahAndQuack Thu 07-Mar-19 15:57:43

It's good to read up on things, but FWIW, I did a very theory-light undergraduate degree (and so do my undergrads now - some places are like this). I certainly hadn't read any Foucault until post-PhD (and I work on sexuality now, so it is certainly relevant, but I didn't need it earlier). I've still not read Gramsci

DolorestheNewt Thu 14-Mar-19 14:09:52

@SarahAndQuack Thanks so much for the reassurance - I did wonder if perhaps I was rather too concerned about my lack of exposure to theory! (Only just returned to check this thread hence delayed thanks!)

OP’s posts: |
CatandtheFiddle Thu 14-Mar-19 14:19:23

Try Raman Selden's book, A Reader's Guide to Contemporary Literary Theory. I've used this with MA students who need to catch up. Very straightforward, non-partisan, and clearly written. Very scholarly, but workmanlike scholarship.

(It's gone through several editions, which suggest lots of people have found it useful).

You could also try Peter Barry's book, Beginning Theory - written specifically for EngLit undergrads

DolorestheNewt Fri 15-Mar-19 11:14:32

Thank you so much -- I've just bought Beginning Theory, which was on the reading list from the university, so it's gratifying to see it suggested by another academic! - I'll get hold of the other one as well. Really grateful!

OP’s posts: |
InternetArgument Fri 05-Apr-19 14:07:05

Most of the SLs (upwards) I’ve met would be lost without BT. Giving it to undergraduates is akin to tearing back the wizard’s curtain😲

Dottierichardson Fri 05-Apr-19 14:20:25

For online resources look at Cultural/media studies' sites too as a number of theoretical frameworks the same, so should find stuff on Barthes etc There's a list of sites/resources here:

And a range of links to literary theory sites

A lot of students sell on their books, Blackwells' sells secondhand academic books

Also look at


Join the discussion

To comment on this thread you need to create a Mumsnet account.

Join Mumsnet

Already have a Mumsnet account? Log in