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Doing English: A Guide for Students [Paperback]

Robert Eaglestone
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

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Book Description

23 Sep 1999 041519136X 978-0415191364
Aimed at A level students, this immensely readable book provides an ideal introduction to studying English at degree level. Illustrated with examples from essential A level texts, Doing English examines the evolution of English as a subject and questions the assumptions that lie behind approaches to literature. Doing English includes chapters on: the history of English doing Criticism jargon and technical terms language English as Heritage the Canon Dealing with exciting new ideas and contentious debates that make up English today, this volume is an essential purchase for those students embarking on English at degree level.

Product details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge (23 Sep 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 041519136X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415191364
  • Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 12.6 x 1.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 508,567 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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'Excellent: a thought-provoking and accessible argument exploring the changing character of English Literature as it has developed outside the school curriculum over the last half century.' - The English and Media Magazine

'Exactly what students need.' - Times Education Supplement --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Author

Why I wrote it: why the Slovakian reviewer didn't like it
I wrote Doing English after a great deal of experience teaching undergraduates and A-level students English. I wanted to explain the changing nature of the subject in the UK because English has changed enormously over the last 20 years or so. At A-level, this is reflected in the new Assessment Objectives that all students must fulfil. At University level, these changes are often reflected by an ever increasing range of approaches to literature. I wanted to explain what you might expect English to be, and, more importantly, why it was like that.

I am not surprised by the review from Slovakia. One of the odd things about English and the study of literature in general - unlike many science subjects - is that it is done very, very differently in different countries. (For example, only English Language students study the 'History of the Language' in the UK: in Slovakia, it is a large part of the curriculum for all English Students. I don't discuss it, so no wonder the Slovakian reader didn't find it, and was, consequently, disappointed). I wrote this book for British A-level and Undergraduate students of English. If you are one, you won't be disappointed. If you are not (if you want a book about linguistics, say, or learning how to speak English), you will be.

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To understand why English is the way it is today, it's important to understand where it came from. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Friendly Introduction To New Approaches 19 Oct 2003
By A Customer
'Doing English' serves excellently as an introductory guide to the attitudes and debates which literary theory has placed on to the agenda of English Studies, at university and now sixth-form levels. It is easy-to-read, lively, stimulating and clear, revealing theory to be far more pertinent and less arcane than it often seems in raw form. The issues Eaglestone discusses are now central concerns of the discipline, for better or worse, so students will need to be acquainted with them, and Eaglestone presents them in an unusually friendly, accessible form. For some undergraduates this introduction will be too basic, but for most it will be very useful.
Yet there are limitations: Eaglestone is clearly an advocate of the new approaches he describes, which means that he does not present a balanced view of the debates, but presents simplified versions of 'traditionalist' arguments as naive and outmoded. Readers should be warned not to take his dismissals as the final word. The book would perhaps be better entitled 'Doing Literary Theory', to avoid giving the impression that English departments no longer engage with 'canonical texts' on respectful terms, only with a deconstuctive eye. Fortunately, at most universities this is not the case, whatever Eaglestone might wish. So don't worry if you prefer the literary classics to postmodern philosophy, you can still enjoy studying English. But if you are uncomfortable with new approaches and yet are willing to give them a chance, this book is for you.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Why to Do English 4 May 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is my go-to text not only for new students but also for any of my friends who are interesting just what "doing English" entails. I agree with many of the other positive reviews on here and think that confusion of purposes is likely at the root of the more negative opinions. Yes, this is a book aimed at British undergrad or potentially-undergrad (ie. A levels, etc) students and so will not be appropriate to other national education systems (yes, even the American and other English speaking societies) nor does it aim to uncover any new essential truths to already established academics. What I do believe this book does fantastically, however, is position the student within a history of study that is constantly shifting and evolving.

Eaglestone locates the historical origins of the study of English Literature in the attempt to instill English values upon the people of the Indian subcontinent. After failing to convert the Indians to Christianity (turns out people don't take too kindly to that), the great English novels were considered a less controversial way to "civilise" the people of that plundered nation. Following the Great War, Britain needed to replace its "officer class" and so needed, in essence, to "civilise" its own working class who didn't have the Latin and Greek to read the classics. Thus, English Literature came to Britain. This introduction about hegemony, ideology, and the use of culture to shape nations is a great way of outlining the many and varied approaches to literature that have come since within the British academy. As a result, one feels that by "Doing English" you are very much part of an ongoing conflict about what values we should hold and how society should be shaped.
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5.0 out of 5 stars FANTASTIC SERVICE 11 Sep 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Thankfully I don't need to read this book! I bought this for my daughter who is off to Uni on Saturday. I needed quick delivery and your delivery was ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC! I am a very happy Customer! Thank You Millions.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Well I thoroughly liked it! 11 Mar 2011
This is a very useful book for gaining an insight into the techniques required for literary criticism. Perhaps it does lean towards the very simplistic, but that is the major attraction of the work when the student is faced with the abstruse theories of Post structuralism, Post Modernism and even formalism. It discusses terms such as metonymy, tropes, synecdoche, anthropomorphism and animism, and basically gives you labels for figures of speech you use every day.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A student's view 6 Jun 2010
I bought this book while studying English Literature at University level, it was easy to read, catered to all students (regardless of year) and was great as a reference point during essays and dissertations.
While Eaglestone's bias can sometimes hinder the view, it is worth buying overall
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