Department of english studies special topic reading list

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Germanic Myth & Legend

ENGL 2371

Page 2

Jewish American

ENGL 2461

Page 6

John Milton

ENGL 2611

Page 9

Keats & Shelley

ENGL 2331

Page 13

The Literature of Emotion 1740 - 1814

ENGL 2151

Page 19

Poetry & Poetics

ENGL 2641

Page 21

Science and Literary Imagination 1850 – 1900

ENGL 2671

Page 24

Shakespeare on Film

ENGL 2171

Page 31

Shakespeare’s Problem Plays

ENGL 2711

Page 34

The module offers the student three major opportunities:

  • to engage in detailed analysis of the legends surrounding Sigurd the dragon-slayer and analogous stories as preserved chiefly in Old Norse but also in Old English and German works

  • to acquire a sophisticated understanding of Old Norse mythology

  • to appreciate the ways in which this material has been used in major works of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

All medieval and foreign texts will be studied in modern English translation. In the first part of the course we will discuss the main primary texts, including Völsunga saga and Snorri Sturluson’s Edda in relation to the poems of The Elder Edda; and we will seek to understand their nature as literary creations. The second part of the module will focus on particular gods – Odin, Loki and the deities of fertility – for in-depth analysis of their myths. The final part will be devoted to modern works that draw inspiration from these sources, with emphasis on Richard Wagner, William Morris and J.R.R. Tolkien

During the summer please prepare by reading Völsunga saga, The Poetic Edda and the first part of Snorri’s Edda. For context, a good place to start would be with Lindow 2001. For the first seminar please be ready to discuss Völsunga saga.
You will need to buy your own copies of the asterisked items (please note the asterisked text by Morris). Secondary works marked ^ are especially useful.
Basic Reading List – a longer version will be available on Duo

*The Elder Edda: A Book of Viking Lore, trans. Andy Orchard, London: Penguin Classics, 2011. (‘Elder Edda’ is an alternative title for what is more commonly called ‘The Poetic Edda’. You could use The Poetic Edda (1997), trans. Carolyne Larrington, if you already own that.)

*Völsunga saga, trans. Jesse L. Byock (as The Saga of the Volsungs), London: Penguin, 1999.

*Snorri Sturluson, Edda, trans. Anthony Faulkes, London: Dent, 1987. If you are unable to obtain a copy, use the translation by Byock (2005).

The Saga of Thidrek of Bern, trans. Edward R. Haymes, New York: Garland, 1988.

Beowulf, trans. Seamus Heaney, London: Faber, 1999 (or later editions).

The Nibelungenlied, trans. A. T. Hatto, London: Penguin, 1965.


The Poetic Edda (1969/1997/2011), ed. Ursula Dronke, 3 vols, Oxford: OUP. (I - Heroic Poems; II - Mythological Poems; III - Mythological Poems 2). All vols contain ed., trans. and detailed discussion of several poems.

The Poetic Edda (1997), trans. Carolyne Larrington, Oxford: Oxford World’s Classics.

Snorri Sturluson, The Prose Edda, trans. Jesse Byock, London: Penguin, 2005 (NB, this is not a complete version but it has the merit of making some of the material more accessible).

Snorri Sturluson (1998, 2005). Edda. Vol.1, Prologue and Gylfaginning, 2nd edn (2005); vol. 2, Skáldskaparmál, 2 parts (1998). London: Viking Society. (Edition of the Old Icelandic text, without translation but with useful notes in English.)

Völsunga saga, The Saga of the Volsungs, ed. and trans. R.G. Finch, London: Nelson, 1965. Available as a PDF for free download at

Beowulf and its Analogues, trans. G.N. Garmonsway and Jacqueline Simpson, London: Dent, 1980 (includes a translation of Beowulf and much other legendary material on Ermanneric, Sigemund and others).

Klaeber’s Beowulf, ed. R.D. Fulk, Robert E. Bjork and John D. Niles, 4th edn, Toronto: Toronto UP, 2008 (standard edition of the Old English, with extensive notes).

a) Wagner

Richard Wagner, Der Ring des Nibelungen, Metropolitan Opera conducted by James Levine, Deutsche Grammophon DVD. (Complete performance in a production that looks much as Wagner would have expected.)

Richard Wagner, Der Ring des Nibelungen. Complete recordings on CD: conducted by Georg Solti, Decca; conducted by Daniel Baremboim, Telarc. There are many more: Levine, Karajan, Böhm, Janowski, Boulez. Complete versions on DVD: conducted by Baremboim; conducted by Levine; conducted by Boulez. Productions involving jackboots are best avoided.

Wagner’s Ring of the Nibelung: A Companion, ed. Stewart Spencer and Barry Millington, London: Thames and Hudson, 1993. Text, translation and some commentary.

^Árni Björnsson, Wagner and the Volsungs, London: Viking Society, 2003. Available as a PDF for free download at

David Ashurst. 'Wagner, Morris, and the Sigurd Figure: Confronting Freedom and Uncertainty' in Revisiting the Poetic Edda: Essays on Old Norse Heroic Legend, ed. Paul Acker and Carolyne Larrington, London: Routledge, 2013, pp. 219-237.

Thomas Grey, ed., Cambridge Companion to Wagner, Cambridge: CUP, 2008.

^Bryan Magee, Aspects of Wagner, London: Ross, 1968 (and later editions, OUP, 1988 - still the best short introduction).

Barry Millington, ed., The Wagner Compendium: A Guide to Wagner’s Life and Music, London: Thames and Hudson, 1992.

Ernest Newman, Wagner Nights, London: Putnam, 1949 (sensible and detailed accounts of the operas).

Michael Tanner, Wagner, London: HarperCollins, 1996 (an excellent study focused not on the man but on his works).

b) Morris

*William Morris, The Story of Sigurd the Volsung and the Fall of the Niblungs, Place not specified: Elibron, 2004. ISBN-13: 978-1402150067. Available through Amazon. Other printings by other publishers are also available. Note that the Kindle edition is abridged and the poem is formatted like prose.

William Morris, The Collected Works of William Morris, ed. May Morris. 24 vols, London: Longmans, 1910-15. The Story of the Volsungs and Niblungs (i.e. trans. of Völsunga saga) is in vol. VII; The Story of Sigurd occupies vol. XII; The Story of the Volsungs is also available online at and; The Story of Sigurd the Volsung and the Fall of the Niblungs is available in an abridged form at

^David Ashurst, ‘William Morris and the Volsungs’ in Old Norse Made New, ed. David Clark and Carl Phelpstead, London: Viking Society, 2007, pp. 43-61. Available as a PDF for free download at

Peter Faulkner, William Morris. The Critical Heritage, London: Routlege and Kegan Paul, 1973.

Peter Faulkner, Against the Age. An Introduction to William Morris, London: Allen and Unwin,1980.

Peter Faulkner and Peter Preston, eds., William Morris. Centenary Essays, Exeter: Exeter UP, 1999.

Paul Thompson, The Work of William Morris, Oxford: OUP, 1991.

c) Tolkien

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, (any edition), The Hobbit (any edition), The Silmarillion (any edition).

J.R.R. Tolkiien, The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún, ed. Christopher Tolkien, London: HarperCollins, 2009.

^Tom Shippey, The Road to Middle-Earth, 3rd edn, London: HarperCollins, 2005.

Robert Eaglestone, Reading The Lord of the Rings: New Writings on Tolkien’s Trilogy, Continuum, 2005.

Neil D. Isaacs and Rose A. Zimbardo, eds, Understanding the Lord of the Rings: The Best of Tolkien Criticism, Houghton Mifflin, 2004.

d) General

Old Norse Made New, ed. David Clark and Carl Phelpstead, London: Viking Society, 2007. (Studies of nineteenth and twentieth-century reception of the material. Available as a PDF for free download at

Andrew Wawn, ed. (1994). Northern Antiquity: The Post-Medieval Reception of Edda and Saga. London: Hisarlik. (See especially chapters 3, 9 and 12.)


^Christopher Abram, Myths of the Pagan North, London: Continuum, 2011.

Paul Acker and Carolyne Larrington, eds., The Poetic Edda: Essays on Old Norse Mythology. London: Routledge, 2002.

^Theodore M. Andersson, The Legend of Brynhild, Islandica XLIII, Cornell 1980.

Marlene Ciklamini, Snorri Sturluson, Boston MA: Twayne, 1978.

Margaret Clunies Ross, Prolonged Echoes, 2 vols., Odense: Southern Denmark UP, 1994-8.

Hilda Ellis-Davidson, Gods and Myths of Northern Europe, London: Penguin, 1964.

Hilda Ellis-Davidson, The Lost Beliefs of Northern Europe, London: Hutchinson paperback, 1993.

G. Dumézil, Gods of the Ancient Northmen, ed. Einar Haugen, Berkeley / Los Angeles / London: University of California, 1973.

^John Lindow, Norse Mythology: A Guide to the Gods, Heroes, Rituals and Beliefs, Oxford: OUP, 2001.

John McKinnell and Maria-Elena Ruggerini, Both One and Many: Essays on Change and Variety in late Norse Heathenism, Rome: Il Calamo, 1994.

John McKinnell, Meeting the Other in Norse Myth and Legend, Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 2005.

John McKinnell, Essays on Eddic Poetry, ed Donata Kick and John D. Shafer, Toronto: U Toronto P, 2014.

Myth in Early Northwest Europe, ed. Stephen O. Glosecki, Tempe: Arizona Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies (Turnhout: Brepols), 2007.

Old Norse Religion in Long-Term Perspectives: Origins, Changes, and Interactions, ed. Anders Andrén, Kritina Jemmbert and Catharina Raudvere, Vägar till Midgård 8, Lund: Nordic Academic Press, 2006. (Contains many interesting and useful essays.)

Reflections on Old Norse Myths, ed. Pernille Hermann, Jens Peter Schødt and Rasmus Tranum Kristensen, Turnhout: Brepols, 2007. (Almost all the essays in this book could be useful, and there is a lot of bibliography.)

Jens Peter Schødt, Initiation Between Two Worlds: Structure and Symbolism in Pre-Christian Scandinavia. Viking Collection 17. Odense: Southern-Denmark UP, 2008.

J. Michael Stitt, Beowulf and the Bear’s Son: Epic, Saga, and Fairytale in Northern Germanic Tradition, New York: Garland, 1994.

^E.O.G. Turville-Petre, Myth and Religion of the North, London, 1964. (Apart from the authoritative discussion of myths, see ch. 10, ‘The Divine Heroes’, on Ermanneric, Sigurðr and the Burgundians).

Kevin J. Wanner, Snorri Sturluson and the Edda: The Conversion of Cultural Capital in Medieval Scandinavia. Toronto: Toronto UP, 2008.

D.S. Brewer, Symbolic Stories. Traditional Narratives of the Family Drama in English Literature, 2nd ed., London: Longmans, 1987.

J. Campbell, The Masks of God, 4 vols., New York, 1974.

Kathryn Hume, Fantasy and Mimesis, Responses to Reality in Western Literature, London and New York, 1984.

C.G. Jung, The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious, The Collected Works of C.G. Jung, vol. 9, part 1, 2nd ed., London, 1968.

Edmund Leach, Lévi-Strauss (Fontana Modern Masters Series), London: Fontana, 1970.

^John McKinnell, Meeting the Other (see section 5 above); see ch. 2 for summaries of the contributions of important theorists.

Myth, a Symposium, ed. Thomas A. Sebeok, University of Indiana, 1955, paperback 1961.

A Companion to Old Norse-Icelandic Literature and Culture, ed. Rory McTurk, Oxford: Blackwell, 2005 and 2007.

Joseph Harris, ‘Eddic Poetry’, in Old Norse-Icelandic Literature, A Critical Guide, ed. Carol J. Clover and John Lindow, Islandica XLV, Cornell, 1985, pp. 68-156.

Richard North and Joe Allard, eds, Beowulf and Other Stories: A New Introduction to Old English, Old Icelandic and Anglo-Norman Literatures, Harlow: Pearson, 2007.

Jónas Kristjánsson, Eddas and Sagas. Iceland's Medieval Literature, Reykjavík, 1988.

^P. Pulsiano and others, Medieval Scandinavia, an Encyclopedia, New York and London: Garland, 1993.

Margaret Clunies Ross, Old Norse Myths, Literature and Society, Odense: Southern Denmark UP, 2003.

^R. Simek, Dictionary of Northern Mythology, trans. Angela Hall, Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 1993.

E.O.G. Turville-Petre, The Heroic Age of Scandinavia, London 1951.

E.O.G. Turville-Petre, Origins of Icelandic Literature, Oxford, 1953.

Jewish American Fiction 2014/15 [ENGL2461]

Module Convenor: Dr Mark Sandy
This special topic on Jewish American Fiction aims to explore a range of representative fictional texts written by Jewish American Writers since 1945. The aim of the module is to study the literary forms and preoccupations of Jewish American Fiction immediately before and after the Second World War up until the close of the twentieth century. The approach will combine an emphasis on formal close reading with an understanding of the various cultural, religious, political, and intellectual contexts reflected in and shaping the fiction of this period. Attention will be given both to continuities in the novel tradition and experimental forms and new historical pressures arising from changes within Jewish and American culture before and after World War II (typically immigration, economic depression, and the Holocaust). Such historical forces have meant that the reality depicted in Jewish-American Fiction of twentieth century has increasingly become as much American as it is Jewish.
Please note: Our first seminar will focus on Saul Bellow’s Seize the Day (1956). We will use Bellow’s novella as a starting-point to think about some of themes and preoccupations of Jewish American writing that we will encounter elsewhere on the module. We will also consider the extent to which this short work of fiction by Bellow can be considered American, Jewish, or Jewish American, in any meaningful sense.
Titles marked with a single asterix (*) are on Reserve in the University Library. Titles marked with a double asterix (**) are on 3-DAY Loan. Please note that those titles currently on order for the University Library are indicated as such.
Primary Reading: Texts
Saul Bellow:

Seize the Day. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1996.

Herzog. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 2001.

Mr Sammler’s Planet. Penguin, 1996.

The Letters of Saul Bellow, ed. Benjamin Taylor. Viking-Penguin, 2010.
Isaac Bashevis Singer:

Enemies: A Love Story. Farrar: 1997.
Bernard Malamud:

The Magic Barrel and Other Stories. Vintage, 2000.

The Fixer. New York: Strauss, Farrar, and Giroux, 2004.

The Assistant. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1988.
E.L. Doctorow:

Ragtime. Plume, 1997.

Jonathan Safran Foer:

Everything is Illuminated. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 2003.
Philip Roth:

Portnoy’s Compliant. 1967. London: Vintage, 1994.

Everyman. London: Cape, 2006. (E)
Grace Paley:

Little Disturbances of Man. London: Viking, 1994.

Please note that film adaptations of the following works by Jewish American writers are available for loan from the departmental office:
Billy Bathgate. Dir. Robert Benton. With Dustin Hoffman, Nicole Kidman. Touchstone, 1991.
Enemies, A Love Story. Dir. Paul Mazursky. With Ron Silver and Anjelica Huston. Warner, 1989.
Everything is Illuminated. Dir. Live Schrieber. With Elijah Wood and Eugene Hütz. Warner, 2005.
Portnoy’s Complaint. Dir. Ernest Lehman-Sidney Beckerham. With Richard Benjamin, Karen Black, and Lee Grant. Warner, 1972.
Ragtime. Dir. Milos Forman. With James Cagney, Brad Dourif, Moses Gunn, Elizabeth McGovern, Kenneth McMillan, Pat O’Brien, Donald O’Connor, and James Olson. Paramount, 1981.
Seize the Day. Dir. Fielder Cook. With Robin Williams, Joseph Wiseman, Jerry Stiller, Glenne Headly, Katherine Borowitz, and Tony Roberts. Monterey, 2003 [originally made 1986].
Selected Reading: Jewish American Writers and Their Culture(s):

Berger, Alan L. Berger, ‘American Jewish Fiction,’ Modern Judaism 10 (1990): 221-41 [Full text available online via JSTOR]

Bloom, James D. Gravity Fails: The Comic Jewish Shaping of Modern America. Westport, Connetticut: Praeger, 2003.

Buddick, Emily Miller, ed. Ideology and Jewish Identity in Israeli and American Literature. SUNY Modern Jewish Literature and Culture Ser. Albany, NY: U of New York P, 2001.

Dinnerstein, Leonard. Anti-Semitism in America. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995.

Finkelstein, Norman. The Ritual of Creation: Jewish Tradition and Contemporary Literature. Albany: SUNY, 1992.

**Fishman, Sylvia B. Follow My Footprints: Changing Images of Women in American-Jewish Fiction. Hanover, U of New England P, 1992.

Gingus, Sam. The New Covenant: Jewish Writers and the American Idea. Chapel Hill: U of North Carolina P, 1984.

Kamel, Rose Yalow. Aggravating the Conscience: Jewish-American Literary Mothers in the Promised Land. New York: Lang, 1988.

**Knopp, Josephine. The Trail of Judaism in Contemporary American Writing. Urbana: Illinois UP, 1975.

**Kramaer, Michael and Hana Wirth-Nesher, Cambridge Companion to Jewish-American Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge, 2003.

Kremer, S Lillian. ‘Post-Alienation: Recent Directions in Jewish-American Literature,’ Contemporary Literature Vol. 34 (1993): 571-591 [Full text available online via JStor].

Kugelmass, Jack. ed. Key Texts in American Jewish Culture. New Brunswick, N.J. : Rutgers UP, 2003.

Mersand, Joseph E. Traditions in American Literature: A Study of Jewish Characters and Authors. 1939. NY: Kennikat, 1968.

Sandy, Mark. ‘Jewish American Literature,’ The Encyclopedia of Literature and Politics, ed. M. Keith Booker . Greenwood: Westport, CT, 2005, 384-8.

**Scott, Nathan. Three American Moralists: Mailer, Bellow, Trilling. Notra Dame: Notre Dame UP, 1973.

Simmons, Philip E. Deep Surfaces: Mass Culture and History in Postmodern American Fiction. Athens, GA: U of Georgia P, 1997. [This has a section on E. L. Doctorow]

Showalter, Elaine (ed.). Modern American Women Writers. Macmillan: New York, 1991.

**Schulz, Max E. Radical Sophistication: Studies in Contemporary Jewish-American Novelists. Athens: Ohio, 1969.

**Shaked, Gershon. The Shadows Within: Essays on Modern Jewish Writers. Philadelphia: Jewish Publications Society, 1987.

Shechner, Mark. After the Revolution: Studies in Contemporary Jewish-American Imagination. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1987.

**Wade, Stephen. Jewish American Literature since 1945: An Introduction. Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP, 1999.

**Walden, Daniel, ed. Twentieth-century American-Jewish Fiction Writers. Detroit: Gale, 1984.

**Walden, Daniel (ed.) The Changing Mosaic: From Cahan to Malamud, Roth and Ozick. Studies in American Jewish Literature. Vol. 12. University Park: PA, 1993.

Whitfield, Stephen J. ‘The Distinctiveness of American Jewish Humour,’ Modern Judaism 6: 245-60 [Full text available online via JStor].

Zierler, Wendy. ‘The Making and Re-Making of Jewish American Literary History,’ Shofar 27 (2009): 69-101[Full text available online via Project Muse].

John Milton (1608-1674) [ENGL 2611]

Module Convenor: Dr Mandy Green
th (1)
Gustave Dore, c. 1866

You will need to bring the appropriate text(s) to each seminar (see draft programme), so it’s worth considering purchasing a copy of Milton’s poetical works. There are a number of excellent editions in print. All the editions mentioned below are available from the Main Library, so if you intend to make a purchase, you could take a look, and try before you buy.

I have always found the notes in the Longman edition particularly detailed and helpful (though some pages are more ‘note’ than ‘text’). NB the spelling of the poems has been modernized, so the text is reader friendly, but not suitable for the purists amongst you! It is available in two paperback volumes, or a more weighty, single tome:

The Complete Shorter Poems. Ed. John Carey. London: Longman. 2nd edn 1997. 826.2

Paradise Lost. Ed. Alastair Fowler. London: Longman.2nd edn. 1998. 826.2
The hardback Riverside Milton, although it is rather more unwieldy, printed on very thin paper in a small type-size, has the advantage of including some of the Early Lives of Milton, a selection of his personal letters and some of the important English prose works (eg the Areopagitica), together with translations of a number of the Latin prose works too. (Unlike the Longman edition, the spelling has not been modernized so it gives a more authentic feel to the texture of the verse.)

The Riverside Milton. Ed. Roy Flannagan. Boston. New York: Houghton Mifflin. 1998. 826.2
John Milton. Eds. Stephen Orgel and Jonathan Goldberg (The Oxford Authors series). Oxford: 1991. 826.2

Good, affordable volume – though binding not particularly strong. The notes are detailed, but are located at the back rather than footnoted. This cleans up the body of the text, but may result in constant flipping of pages.

Milton: Complete Poems. Ed. John Leonard. Harmondsworth: 1998. 826.2

Well-presented volume with informative notes. Good value for money.

Milton: The Complete English Poems. Ed Gordon Campbell. London: David Campbell. 1992 826.2

Well-presented volume with a useful chronology of the life and times of the author. As well the English poetry, this edition also contains the prose works, "Of Education" and "Areopagitica".

There are a number of multi-volume editions in progress, which will prove a useful resource when we come to focus on particular texts in the seminars:

A Variorum Commentary on the Poems of John Milton. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1970- 826.2 MIL/HUG

The Complete Works of John Milton. Oxford: OUP. 2008- 826.2 MIL/COM

Three volumes are available to date:

VoI. I, The 1671 Poems: Paradise Regain’d and Samson Agonistes. Ed Laura Lunger Knoppers

Vol. II, The Shorter Poems. Eds Barbara Kiefer Lewalski and Estelle Haan

Vol. De Doctrina Christiana

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