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Did you do A-Level English Literature?

(350 Posts)
BrilliantineMortality Mon 20-Apr-15 10:57:45

When did you study it?
Can you remember what books you read?

For me, I did it between 1993-95. Can't believe I sat my exams 20 years ago shock. I found some of my set texts recently which jogged my memory as to the other books I studied:

The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
Have the men had enough - Margaret Forster
Oranges are not the only fruit - Jeanette Winterson
The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
The Cement Garden - Ian McEwan
The man who mistook his wife for a hat - Oliver Sacks (non-fiction component to the course)
King Lear
The Merchant of Venice
Ted Hughes' animal poems
John Keats' poems
The General Prologue to the Canterbury Tales - Chaucer
The Revenger's Tragedy - Tourneur/Middleton (A Jacobean play)

The thing that immediately strikes me is that the novels were all relatively contemporary with a (mostly) feminist slant. Probably because both my teachers were female and in their late twenties/early thirties, so these were probably the books that they had read in the preceding decade or so.

Only the John Keats' poetry from the 19th Century, which is pretty shocking, come to think of it now. Everything was either late 20th Century or much, much earlier. I loved doing my English Lit A Level, but reading this list back I can see that it didn't do me many favours when it came to study it for my degree.

RhinestoneCowgirl Mon 20-Apr-15 11:01:43

I did (1994-96). Embarrassingly I don't think I can remember the whole syllabus, but then I have read quite a lot since then wink

Shakespeare was Hamlet and As You Like It (did King Lear for GCSE). Poetry was possibly Blake but I could be mixing that up with later OU course.

Also The Spire by Golding and oh oh just remembered, Chaucer, Wife of Bath

RhinestoneCowgirl Mon 20-Apr-15 11:03:23

Did read Handmaid's Tale at around that age and absolutely loved it, one of my top favourite books.

I'm now in 2 book groups, and often feel wistful for the days of A-Level English - all that talking and writing about books!

PenguinsandtheTantrumofDoom Mon 20-Apr-15 11:05:19

I really can't remember blush

I know I did Streetcar Named Desire (or was that GCSE). Definitely did Lear and Yeats poetry. Definitely did Wuthering Heights as an exam text.

We did Handmaid's Tale, but not as an exam text.

We had one middle aged male teacher and one marvellous feminist one who had a daughter our age and who did tequila shots with all of us after the exams (having established that there were no late summer birthdays and we were all 18!).

Feckeggblue Mon 20-Apr-15 11:07:05

I think it was hamlet - comparison of pip great expections vs Catcher in the rye- a room with a view em Forster- and the Canterbury tales

SophyStantonLacy Mon 20-Apr-15 11:07:58

I am not sure I can remember either. I went on to do English Lit at university so there are an awful lot of set texts floating around in my head...

Handmaid's Tale
The Great Gatsby
Death of a Salesman
Elizabeth Barret Browning
Robert Browning
King Lear
William Blake


GooseyLoosey Mon 20-Apr-15 11:08:58

I did - in 1988!

The ones I can remember are:

Wife of Bath
Rosencrantz & Gildenstern are Dead
Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man
Pride & Prejudice
Richard II
Dr Faustus
A 20th Century Poetry Anthology (especially TS Elliot and Dylan Thomas)

ElectricalBanana Mon 20-Apr-15 11:09:36

It is 30 years since I did a level English lit!

Wife of bath
Seamus Heaney
Jude the obscure

Tbh it was dire and put me off reading for a long time - I was a voracious reader and was known to read the back of a cornflake packet at breakfast! Took me many years to get into reading and now 30 years later I am doing EA300 which is a children's literature module with the OU - this is the fifth module in a six year Ba Hons Childhood and Youth degree.

Whitershadeofpale Mon 20-Apr-15 11:12:35

I did mine in 2004-06.

We did Othello, Keats, The Wife of Bath's Prologue and tale, a module on war writing and Enduring Love.

I later went on to do an English degree and felt I'd missed out on some of the big 18th and 19th Century novels. We only did Far From the Madding Crowd (which I hated) for GCSE although other groups did Jane Eyre and Great Expectations.

mellicauli Mon 20-Apr-15 11:13:12

Henry V
Poetry of John Clare
Romantic Poets
Wife of Bath
Wuthering Heights

Seriouslyffs Mon 20-Apr-15 11:14:34

Goosey I wonder if we did the same board as I couldn't remember many of mine but yours looks familiar.
Also Tess (we saw a hilariously bad production with Angel struggling to carry Tess over a bridge- the whole
class struggled to breathe we were laughing so much)
Also the Jumpers- very funny,
Look Back in Anger and BORING-Mill on the Floss.

SophyStantonLacy Mon 20-Apr-15 11:15:49

oh yes Whiter! I did mine 2000-2002, also did a module on war writing (loved that).

Seriouslyffs Mon 20-Apr-15 11:19:18

Electrical I don't think studying literature is a great way to learn how to enjoy books either- particularly as it's studied when young. I have no idea what I thought I understood about Tess and Look back- both proper grown up and complicated studies of relationships.
You reminded me that we did Wordsworth too didn't like thy either

ShutUpLegs Mon 20-Apr-15 11:19:50

I did mine in 1988.

As far as I recall:

Henry IV Part 1
North & South
Jude the Obscure
Pardoners Tale

I seem to have obliterated the poetry - if indeed we did any.

Whitershadeofpale Mon 20-Apr-15 11:20:37

I loved it too sophy just remembered that we did The Glass Menagerie too.

crapfatbanana Mon 20-Apr-15 11:21:03

I did mine '95-97.

The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
Dubliners - James Joyce
Othello - Shakespeare
The Merchant of Venice - Shakespeare
Talking Heads - Alan Bennett
General Prologue to The Canterbury Tales - Chaucer (although the teacher wasted a term teaching DH Lawrence poetry by mistake.)

SophyStantonLacy Mon 20-Apr-15 11:22:11

Oh yes, we did that too Whiter. We must have done the same exam board.

OnlyLovers Mon 20-Apr-15 11:24:34

I don't remember it all.

I know we did:

Chaucer, the Miller's Tale (and a quick run-through the Prologue to the Tales)
Return of the Native
Jane Eyre
Henry IV Part 1
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

Cannot for the life of me remember any more modern plays, but we must have studied at least one, I'm sure.

TheWordFactory Mon 20-Apr-15 11:25:06

1986 - 1988

A Winters Tale
The Return of the Native.
Mansfield Park.
Howard's End.

Poetry? I'm thinking Wilfred Owen, but that might have bee A level!

BigRedBall Mon 20-Apr-15 11:28:03

The Handmaids Tale
oranges are not the only fruit
The colour purple
To kill a mocking bird
The glass menagerie
Twelfth night

We did loads of poems by Christina Rossetti. I absolutely loved Goblin Market and still do. Loads of world war 1 poems too for ww1 module.

catlady1 Mon 20-Apr-15 11:29:29

Errrrm 2009/10

Death of a Salesman
A Streetcar Named Desire
White Devil
Wuthering Heights
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Poetry was Tennyson and Rime of the Ancient Mariner, and a bit of Larkin and Plath.

lastlines Mon 20-Apr-15 11:29:40

Wow, can't believe how hard it is to remember.

We did Othello and Winter's Tale - Shakespeare
Pardoner's Prologue and Tale - Chaucer
Hard Times - Dickens
Mayor of Casterbridge - Hardy (or was that for O level?)
The Wasteland or Prufrock and the Preludes - TS Eliot (maybe not all of it)
Mansfield bloody Park - the only boring novel Austen ever wrote
Maybe the War Poets, Ted Hughes and Charles Causley, or maybe some of those were O Level (GCSE)
Trying to remember what modern plays we studied.

PeppermintPasty Mon 20-Apr-15 11:30:22

Oh god. Hamlet, The White Devil, Gerard Manly Hopkins, The Royal Hunt of the Sun, Tess of the D'Urbevilles.

I can't remember the rest shock

niminypiminy Mon 20-Apr-15 11:33:57

I did mine in 1981 (which feels a bit like the middle ages).

EM Forster, A Passage to India
Jane Austen, Emma
Louis MacNeice, poems
Thomas Hardy, poems
Shakespeare, King Lear
Shakespeare, The Tempest
Chaucer, The Franklin's Prologue and Tale

SoupDragon Mon 20-Apr-15 11:35:22

The General Prologue to the Canterbury Tales & The Nun's Priest's Tale
Youth & The End of the Tether - Conrad
Great Gatsby
Measure for Measure
Tess of the Durbervilles
and I'm sure there was an Oscar Wilde play in there somewhere.

I think I did Twelfth Night & To Kill a Mocking Bird at GCSE. Some of the texts above might have been GCSE too but I can't be sure!

I hated it with a vengeance.

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