Summer Reading List for English BA Offer Holders

By Amanda Richardson, 3rd year English BA student

You will undoubtedly want to spend time relaxing before starting life as an undergraduate. However, preparing for your course will help with the transition into university life. English requires weekly reading for four modules each semester, and the texts change on a weekly basis. Although the course content will be different for you, here is the reading for the core modules I completed during my first semester in 2020:

Week number Reading Poetry Introducing Literary Theories Writing London Introduction to American Literature
1 Selected poems Rip Van Winkle (Washington Irving) NW (Zadie Smith) Johnathan Culler & Stuart Hall texts
2 Selected poems The Europeans

(Henry James)

Selected Poems (Linton Kwesi Johnson) Ferdinand de Saussure, Sylvia Wynter & Deborah Cameron texts
3 Selected poems O Pioneers

(Willa Cather)

Virginia Woolf and Ford Madox extracts Roland Barthes, Michel Foucault & Kathy Acker texts
4 Selected poems Selected poems by Emily Dickinson Arthur Conan Doyle texts Jacques Derrida & LK Austin texts
5 Reflections week Reflections week Reflections week Reflections week
6 Reading week Reading week Reading week Reading week
7 Selected poems The Souls of Black Folk (WEB Du Bois) Charles Dickens extracts Karl Marx, Max/Engels & Cheryl Harris texts
8 Selected poems Selected poems by Walt Whitman William Blake, William Wordsworth, Charles Lamb & Mary Shelly poems and extracts Sigmund Freud & Louis Althusser texts
9 Selected poems Citizen

(Claudia Rankine)

Trivia: or, the Art of Walking the Streets of London (John Gay) Frantz Fanon & Edward Said texts
10 Selected poems A Raisin in the Sun

(Lorraine Hansberry)

The Roaring Girl (Thomas Dekker and Thomas Middleton) Judith Butler & EK Sedgwick texts
11 Selected poems Housekeeping

(Marilynne Robinson)

Saint Erkenwald (Malcolm Andrew) Clifford Geertz & Christina Sharpe texts
12 Revision week Revision week Revision week Revision week


As you can see, you will hit the ground running from your very first week. You could be asked to read a few chapters or the entirety of a text. Some texts will be posted on the virtual learning environment. You will have to purchase others, locate them online or borrow from a library if available (try your local library, King’s Maughan Library or Senate House). Below are the most recent book suggestions from module convenors. This content may be helpful to prepare for the BA English course over the summer.

**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**


  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)


  1. 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 second hand edition is fine.


  1. Writing London
  • Hanif Kureishi, The Buddha of Suburbia (any modern edition)
  • Linton Kwesi Johnson, Selected Poems (London: Penguin, 2006)
  • Joe Orton, Entertaining Mr Sloane (any modern edition)
  • Ford Madox Ford, ‘Chapter 1: From a Distance’ from The Soul of London
  • Virginia Woolf, Street Haunting: A London Adventure


  1. 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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