Preparatory Reading for English BA

row of books

Although there’s no compulsory advance reading, the convenors of some of the core modules have some suggestions for books you might like to get started with.

**King’s College London reviews the modules offered on a regular basis to provide up-to-date, innovative and relevant programmes of study. Therefore, modules offered may change. We suggest you keep an eye on the course finder on our website for updates.**

Most students will take four core modules in their first semester at King’s:

1) Reading Poetry
2) Introducing Literary Theories
3) Writing London
4) Introduction to American Literature.

1. Reading Poetry
Reading Poetry doesn’t have a fixed reading list, but you’re encouraged to get a copy of The Norton Anthology of Poetry in either the 5th or 6th Edition. This is a reference work which contains
reliable texts of works by major poets writing in English from the Middle Ages to the present day. Either edition is fine: the 5th edition will be cheaper secondhand.

  • Either The Norton Anthology of Poetry, Sixth edition (London: Norton, 2018) or The Norton Anthology of Poetry, Fifth edition (London: Norton, 2005)
  • You might also look at Professor Ruth Padel’s 52 Ways of Looking at a Poem (London: Vintage, 2004)
  • If you’re feeling adventurous, try Muriel Rukeyser’s The Life of Poetry (Paris Press, 1996).

2. Introducing Literary Theories
Raymond Williams, Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society (Fontana, 1988)
There are many different editions of this classic of cultural criticism: the Fontana is the cheapest new, but any secondhand edition is fine.

3. Writing London

4. Introduction to American Literature
Some stories you might like to read, or find out about:

  • Washington Irving, ‘Rip Van Winkle’
  • Stephen Crane, ‘The Blue Hotel’ (1899)
  • Zitkala-Sa, ‘The Badger and Bear’

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