How to Study English Literature

Doing your Honors and Majors in the English language may seem an easy task but when you get down to it, it is very difficult. There is an entire text to know, background essays to read, critics to memorize and not to mention, Essay questions, where whatever you write will not seem enough! So, here is a step by step guide on how to proceed with your Lit Majors!

Step 1:
Look up all the texts in your syllabus and try to identify the pattern. For example, if you are studying the nineteenth century texts, there are a lot of themes that were rampant during that time. Like the theory of Evolution, the emergence of feminism, colonization, the industrial revolution etc.



Step 2:
It would always be better if you read your texts before they are begun in class for analysis. What this does is give you a personal insight and opinion on the text. Also, many a times, the teachers, if the text is too long, cannot cover the entire body and just cover the important themes. Hence, always read your text, the whole of it, before it starts in the class.

Step 3:
Always, and always, write down your first impressions of the text. These views are yours and yours alone. Don’t think about the relevance of your views, they will be important. Since the text is fresh in your mind and not influenced by the critics, these insights could help you better understand the text. Also, later, make your answers and reports more authentic.

Step 4:
Pay attention in class. Your literature teacher is obviously good with word. She will put in important points when you least expect them! Also, since, in all probability, they know the text better, they will be better equipped to talk about the themes and motifs and symbols in the text.

Step 5:
Read the critics. It is extremely important to read the critics and write their opinions to support your answers. You always score a better grade if you have the views of the critics. And don’t just take any critics. You will always get a list of ‘Suggested Reading’ with the text, read those critics. Make sure that you include them in your papers.

If you have time, re-read the text once before exam. If you don’t, read the critics and remember what they say. Also, remember the things you wrote when you first read the novel.
The only reason you are studying literature is because you love reading and writing. So write as much as you can!


Follow these steps and enjoy the beauty of literature! More enjoyment and better grades guaranteed!



aastha.tyagi