21 April 2023
Check out Anglia Ruskin University English Literature Professor John Gardner's top reading picks for students starting the course.
This is a brilliant literary story, that alludes to a history of literature, straddles WW2, Bangladesh in 1971, the National Front in 1975, sexual politics, rubbish jobs and London housing. It’s astounding just how much can be done in a short story and Zadie Smith does it.
This famous novella never tires. It has been adapted, parodied, made into plays and films, but the original still lives.
This story about addiction, the instability of the self, and the tribalism of old friendship that will even protect a murderer, is lasting, insightful and economically written.
It took until 1920 before Oxford University allowed women to take degrees and 1948 for Cambridge. For Princeton it was 1969! Back in 1799 Mary Robinson, an actress and poet, made demands that women must have their own university and it could be staffed only by women within a few short years.
This is inspiring, original, assertive feminism that demands that the achievements of women, who Robinson argues are also the best dramatists and novelists, are taken seriously and rewarded.
Maybe the most beautiful poem ever written. A man sitting at midnight by a low-burnt fire feels disconnected with everything around him. He then uses the fire to go on a mental journey back to his childhood, and finally makes a connection with the people and natural world surrounding him. An important poem.
A biting, brilliant and effective political pamphlet. This famous satire, stating that one way of dealing with the poor and a food shortage was to eat their babies, was taken seriously by some.
Reading it fresh, you can see how Swift keeps his nerve throughout as he makes this modest proposal to deal with poverty and population. Brilliant!
By John Gardner
John is Professor of English Literature at ARU. Find out more about our courses at one of our Open Days.