English Option Survey Responses 2013-2014

The following views are those of the anonymous individuals participating in classes provided by TCD School of English and are in no way representative of views of The Rant and Rave, which may not be considered as responsible for the views expressed. This information was gathered by The Rant and Rave in order share informal opinions about various classes on offer for Senior Freshman and Sophister students of TCD School of English for the academic year 2013-2014. The information collected here should be regarded as informal opinion only and may in no way be considered as fact or objective critique. The Rant and Rave cannot provide any further information about any of its anonymous sources.

20th Century Supernatural Literature

Average Rating: 8.5/10

The workload was rated as between “average” and “large, but still manageable”

“Really interesting.”

“Don’t be put off by the emphasis on horror.”

“Make sure you use the book list given out at the start of term, not the one given out when deciding on the module. The course outline does not change much, but this year one book changed and I ended up reading a not particularly good novel for no reason.”

20th Century American Literature

Average Rating: 8/10

The workload was rated as “average”

“The texts and essays are so varied that you can really make the module your own.”

“I didn’t have time to do any of the reading, except for the essay, which I really enjoyed writing. None of the reading (except for your essay) is necessary to get by, although I’ve heard that all of the reading on the reading list was fantastic.”

20th Century Women’s Fiction

Average Rating: 5.75/10

The workload was rated as “average”

“Great books, poor lectures. And no motivation to read as there are no tutorials.”
“Mix of books some harder than others. Recommend the bell. Essay questions challenging”

“Don’t, it’s essentially an hour-long read out of Sparknotes, Wikipedia and things anyone who’s done almost two years of English Studies would know. I don’t need to be close read to. An utter waste of time.”

Anglo-Saxon Identity

Average Rating: 7/10

The workload was rated as “average”

The Discourse of Discovery in English Renaissance Writing 1500-1630

Average Rating: 7/10

The workload was rated as between “average” and “large, but manageable”

“Be interested in the poetry of John Donne and much historical contextualisation at the expense of the literary work”

“Interesting course with a very good lecturer. But he tries to condense too much material in the 50 minutes which makes it difficult to keep up.”

Northern Irish Literature and the Troubles

Average Rating: 6/10

The workload was rated as “average”

“Interesting authors and subject matter, didn’t find lecturer particularly engaging – partially because of scheduling a small class in a big lecture theatre.”

Shakespeare’s Experiments in Tragedy

Average Rating: 10/10

“Nicholas Grene is a treasure. He is simply an excellent lecturer, who is clearly passionate about teaching. Not only that, but he’s entertaining to boot: the man could be teaching you about paint-drying and it would still be an interesting experience.”

Literature of the American South

Average Rating: 8.5/10

The workload was rated as between “average” and “large, but manageable”

“There was a considerable focus on Faulkner”

“Amazing, so interesting, loved it!”

Big House Literature

Average Rating: 8/10

The workload was rated as “large, but manageable”

Authority of the Poet

Average Rating: 9/10

The workload was rated as “small”

“This a brilliant course and totally worth doing if you have an interest in poetry.”

Modern Horror

Average Rating: 10/10

The workload was rated as “large, but manageable”.

Irish Children’s Literature

Average Rating: 8/10

The workload was rated as between “average” and “large, but still manageable”

“The lecturer for this course, Padraic Whyte, is energetic and knowledgeable. Discussion is fostered very well in his classes. The main criticism I would have of this module is that the reading list ignores many contemporary greats in the field, such as Eoin Colfer, Kate Thompson, etc. and instead tends to focus on older texts.”

“A module that is well-conducted and interesting, but a somewhat dull reading list.”

Arthurian Literature

Average Rating: 8/10

The workload was rated as between “average” and “large, but still manageable”

“A love (or at least interest) in medieval literature and language is absolutely necessary. Be prepared for a lot of reading, but most of it incredibly enjoyable.”

“The beginning of the module might seem a bit tedious, but it’s definitely worth sticking it out until the end.”

Home on the Stage

Average Rating: 9/10

Workload was rated as between “average” and “large, but manageable”

“Do it. . . . It’s an excellent module. There’s a good spread of texts and it is especially valuable if you want to get a good overview of 20th century drama.”

Beckett’s Diminishing Prose of the World

Average Rating: 8/10

The workload was rated as “average”

“It is very rewarding, but in the essay, a very original take is required”

“There is not much discussion in this class – it is more like a lecture. This is probably the only aspect detrimental to the class”

“Quite challenging. Slote has an immense knowledge of Beckett’s life and works and the seminar discussions were always incisive, humorous and thought-provoking. Molloy Dies were the most enjoyable on the course, whereas The Unnamable was a bit of a slog, but you recognise its brilliance nonetheless. My only real complaint is that Slote sometimes allows students to go on and on, propounding their elaborate theories of Beckett, which after a while became tiring. Of course, it’s good that students can discuss and challenge what they read and hear, but I’d rather listen to the lecturer after a few minutes.”

Literary Monsters

Average Rating: 7/10

The workload was rated as between “average” and “large, but still manageable”

“With total freedom comes great responsibility. Professor Killeen will set the conversation in one direction every week and take it back in on itself in the second half of the class. This is a method he employs to show you how you yourself should engage the texts; it is not specifically that he is teaching you an A-B-C format based on a particular text; he is entering a dialogue with you and will expect you to do your own work. If you misunderstand what his classes purport to be, you’ll just be confused, but if you go with the flow you’ll learn what format literary criticism looks like. Also, read the book every week because he will call on you to comment.”

“The classes often feel pointless, with no clear outcome.”

Old Norse

Average Rating: 10/10

The workload was rated as “large, but manageable”

“Be prepared for lots of tea and translating”

19th Century Irish Writing

Average Rating: 6/10

The workload was rated as “large, but still manageable”

“Be prepared to have your own ideas and theories about the course content, as not much will be learned in the class situation.”

Ulysses in Context

Average Rating: 9/10

The workload was rated as “large, but still manageable”

“Slote is a very clear lecturer when it comes to Joyce and a fair marker. Ulysses is immensely challenging but hugely enjoyable. Slote is erudite and draws on his huge knowledge of Joyce and 20th century Irish and European history to supplement our understanding of Joyce’s masterpiece. Slote was extremely helpful when it came to essay queries and from the start of term, provided an excellent reading list for the module. We began with A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and then read an episode of Ulysses per week, although in the case of more difficult or longer episodes such as ‘Ithaca’, spread the chapter over two weeks. The course concludes with a foray into Finnegan’s Wake. Slote frequently showed us pages from Joyce’s manuscipts on a screen to illuminate Ulysses. He also gave brilliant, detailed answers to everyone’s queries on Joyce. The classes were quite humorous at times, while maintaining a scholarly atmosphere. At the end of the double seminar, Slote asked for our opinions and was generous and intelligent in his discussion and feedback.”

“Do your own research as the lecturer only covers the text and references can be lost on you if you don’t do background reading. Also read ahead if possible.”

“Don’t be put off by the complexity of ‘Wandering Rocks’ which you may have read in the Modernism module. If you’re having doubts, read ‘Penelope’- the final episode of Ulysses, before choosing the course. It’s by far the most accessible and, to me, enjoyable chapter. If you do choose ‘Ulysses in Contexts’, Slote’s own annotated edition of Ulysses is excellent. (Although Slote didn’t really recommend his own edition, advising us to use the Gabler edition, but I believe that his own edition is invaluable.) Anyway, Ulysses can be enjoyed without too many guides but there is a huge variety of criticism to augment and enrich your understanding of Joyce.”

Blast

Average Rating: 9/10

Workload rated as “average”

“Bring your ideas to class, the most enjoyable part was interpreting our own thoughts about the magazine”

Reading Chaucer

Average Rating: 6/10

Workload rated as “average”

“Course features a nice spread of Chaucer’s works. However, Margaret doesn’t have a lot of structure to the seminar so it seems a bit all over the place at times.”

“Try to get some practice revising reading Middle English before the start of the module”

Postmodern Fiction

Average Rating: 9/10

The workload was rated as “large, but still manageable”

“Really enjoyed this module. The texts were varied and enjoyable and included works by Pynchon, Borges and Woolf. Brenda Silver really knows her stuff and lead the class in lively discussions. Do be prepared to read a lot of postmodern theory in addition to novels and short stories. I never found the reading overwhelming but you will have to make an effort to keep up as everyone is expected to participate in class. We had to choose our own essay topics, but she gave us a walkthrough of how to structure our essay topic and central argument which was very helpful. Overall a challenging but very rewarding class.”

“Be sure you like critical theory, and lots of it.”

The Gawain Poet

Average Rating: 9.33

The workload was rated as “average”

“Fantastic module. Nice balance of lecture-style and group discussion. Brendan sets very manageable readings including close readings of specific lines and secondary criticisms, so you can begin to engage critically with it before the exam.”

“A wonderful module for anyone who is interested in Middle English literature and medieval culture. It could be quite a challenge for someone with no experience of reading Middle English, but if you did the Medieval and Renaissance Romance module in first year then you shouldn’t have too much difficulty.”

“This was probably the best English module I’ve done so far. It’s such a rich and engaging subject, and the tutorials are just really enjoyable; Brendan’s dead on.”

Dickens

Average Rating: 8/10

The workload was rated at “large, but still manageable”

“Daragh Downes is a great lecturer, get involved in class discussion to make the most of it. You will be sad it isn’t a year-long option!”

Poetry of War

Average Rating: 9/10

The workload was rated as “small”

“The poetry on this course is very interesting and the subjects dealt with are often difficult yet can be quite moving.”

The Pain of Unbelonging

Average Rating: 8/10

The workload was rated as being between “large, but still manageable” and “overwhelming”

“The texts are a little overwhelming, particularly being assigned an entire book of critical essays to be read for one week was ambitious. Overall, an interesting and enjoyable class though.”

Modernist Women’s Fiction

Average Rating: 7.33/10

The workload was rated as “average”

“Very good discussion, very nice course texts, handouts given with additional reading every class. On the whole, very helpful”

American Gothic

Average Rating: 8/10

The workload was rated as “average”

“Interesting and fun course.”

Martians, Detectives and Ghosts

Average rating: 9/10

The workload was rated as “average”

“Brilliant course, fun novels and stories, interesting fin-de-siècle themes. Intriguing conversations in class each week, orchestrated by D Jones”

History of the English Language

Average Rating: 7/10

The workload was rated as “average”

“Whatever you put into this module you shall receive in return – Dr. Jorgensen is a most knowledgeable professor, but will only teach those interested to listen”

Hobgoblin Romances

Average Rating: 8/10

Workload rated as “large, but manageable”

American Poetry

Average Rating: 8/10

The workload was rated as “average”

Irish Short Fiction

Average Rating: 8.5/10

The workload was rated as “average”

“The best module I have done so far in Trinity, mainly down to the lecturer. Read as many of the texts as you can to get an informed view of the genre. And get involved in the class discussions as this really helps!”

Theatre in Context: The Dublin Stage

Average Rating: 3/10

The workload was rated as “average”

“Some of the texts on this course are dated and often approached in a way that lacks inspiration making it hard to feel enthused by the material.”

Reading the Irish City

The workload was rated as “average”

“Wow. Chris Morash is something else. He is an excellent teacher, and the School of English is lucky to have him. I can’t speak highly enough of him: he’s funny and challenging, all at the same time. The texts are all very interesting in themselves, but the Spatial Theory approach is fascinating. You really get the feeling that Professor Morash is including you in something that is cutting-edge. The one problem with this module is administrative: there are a vast number of visiting students – the ratio is probably 4:1 in favour of the visiting students. That’s not necessarily a problem in itself, but it does create problems in terms of knowledge of Irish texts and contexts. That’s something the School of English may need to resolve, so that there’s a better spread throughout other modules. Regardless, Chris Morash is exceptional at managing the class, so it’s not really an issue.”

Contemporary Irish Writing

Average Rating: 7/10

The workload was rated as “average”

“Interesting subject matter, heavy emphasis on Northern Ireland and generally enjoyable, lecturer approachable and engaged. However haven’t been enjoying as much as I thought- I think being in a lecture theatre as opposed to a seminar room limits discussion”

“Lovely choice of easily accessible books. Excellent lecturer. Not a bad read in there.”

The Revolutionary Muse

The workload was rated as “average”

“This is the course you dreamt of. The course you saw in the films and read about. This is the course where form meets content. Old-fashioned liberal humanist 19th century glory (which is important in many contexts). It’s also the course where you must assign yourself your own workload, because you can get by doing nothing. Dr. Downes is putting a lot of faith in you as an individual scholar, one who will take an independent interest in the material. If you don’t rise to meet this challenge you will get stung in exams.”

Death in American Life and Letters

Average Rating: 8/10

The workload was rated as “average”

“This is a very interesting module and covers a rather broad range of genres of writing and time periods, united by one theme. It also takes into account other american peoples such as natives and slave narratives, which is good to see. Dr McCarthy is energetic but somewhat disorganised, though she generally leads the discussion well. The reading list is very interesting.”

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