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A233 Journal - March 2024

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7 March 2024

This is a cheeky retrospective post, but I’m adding it to mark a date. In my spare time (of which, I don’t have too much!) I run a comedy night. Inspired by the TMA question, I have a go at writing a satirical and political fairy tale, called (unimaginatively) A Fairy Tale of Lewisham. After a bit of editing, and a poorly timed practice session, I read it out. It got a couple of laughs, and a round of applause. I’m glad I have done it, but I have no idea whether I can use the basis of what I’ve done in my TMA. To answer this question, I ask my tutor. 

15 March 2024

I’ve been a bit rubbish updating this study log recently, since I’ve been in what you might call a ‘valley of marking’; I’ve had to turn around the marking for two different important modules reasonably quickly. I also know that my new A233 tutor has been in a similar situation; she has since has returned my TMA 2 and TMA 3, and has provided some really helpful feedback which really got me thinking.

After what has become a mild study hiatus, I have returned to my books again. Today I’ve been working through understanding what is needed from the week 20 and week 21 online materials. I’ve nearly finished working through all the video and audio materials, which has helped me to understand what reading I’ve got to do.

I have, however, read the first couple of chapters of the module materials, but I need to go over them again, and then find my way to chapter 3 if I have any chance of keeping on track.

I think I know what TMA 4 option I’m going to do. As it happened, I had a go of writing something before I had thoroughly had a look at the TMA question.

I have four things to do. The first is to listen (and make notes about) the final audio recording in week 21. Next up (I think) is to return to the block text and return to where I was reading, and then to read a whole long list of tales I had noted down from the week 21 online materials. The final activity is to try to catch up on some of the tutorials, since I’ve missed a couple of them. I feel that my current study approach isn’t very systematic, but I feel as if I’m continuing to learn from everything.

There has been some various chats on one of the A233 Facebook groups: some fellow students are clearly enjoying this bit of the module. There are also some interesting opinions about Angela Carter. I don’t quite ‘get’ her stories yet, but other students and tutors really like her work. I’ve yet to work through the materials about Freud (which I’m a bit sceptical about, to say the least) but I’m hoping to get onto that today.

So, all in all, some progress. I am looking forward to the Shakespeare bit of the module when I get there.

30 March 2023

I think I’m getting behind since I have remained in my valley of marking for longer than expected.

I needed to decide how to spend my time. Rather than working towards writing TMAs, I needed to focus on marking TMAs. This said, a couple of weeks back, aware that thing were running away from me, I have read through a couple of chapters from the module materials – I just need to reassess where I am.

In addition to the work, I’ve had to drop everything to help my parents with a few things. This led me to ask myself another question: to help me keep on track, what can I practically do to keep on track, or to take a strategic approach with my studies? 

Knowing that I had a long car journey, I managed to listen to the audio version of Simon Armitage’s translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. This gave me a very good idea of what the text was all about. Completing this, I also managed to find an episode of In Our Time which covered the same text and also featured an appearance by Armitage. I this programme to be really helpful, adding a bit more context.

Aware that The Tempest is going to be featured in the EMA, I had a thought: could I adopt a similar approach? I found a Royal Shakespeare Company production in an online service called Drama Online, which all students can access. I watched the performance and tried to follow the text at the same time. Although useful, my immediate and full blown exposure to the play did cause me to miss some of the important details, such as who the characters were. My excuse being that I kept getting distracted, to view the play in a number of episodes,

There was a curious resource that was helpful: the CBeebies production of The Tempest. There also appears to be a CBeebies Radio version, which I’m mentioning here, just in case I get the time to have a listen! These links may, of course, stop working at any point.

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Christopher Douce

Preparing for the summer: A334 reading list

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Edited by Christopher Douce, Sunday, 31 Mar 2024, 09:46

In some ways, this short blog follows on from a blog I wrote last year, which has a similar title: Preparing for the summer: A233 reading list.

I’m writing this blog after having my registration for A334 English literature from Shakespeare to Austen confirmed. I'm probably getting ahead of myself since I still have a quite a lot to do on A233; one more TMA and an EMA, which I'm not really started to think about. 

Just like last year, to get ahead, I’m going to try to do a bit of reading over the summer. What follows is a reading list that I’ve liberated from the module information page. Where possible, I’ve provided a link to a version from Project Guttenberg which can be downloaded to an e reader (which is something that I’ll just before I go on holiday). Do note that the version that is linked to is, of course, different to the text that is referenced.

If you do make use of the Guttenberg version, do note that there may well be significant differences between the text that is officially recommended by the module team, and the downloaded version. The editorial that the officially recommended is often useful.

I’m clearly not going to get through all these in one summer since some of these texts are unfeasibly long. One thing that I have learnt from the study of the OU literature modules is that the reading is often quite directed. In this list there are some novels that I have always wanted to find the time to read; I’ve started reading the Austen novels a couple of times, so that is probably where I’m going to start.

I’ve adjusted the format of the reference to make them a bit more like the official CiteThemRight Harvard format which the university adopts.

Montagu, M. W. (2012) The Turkish Embassy Letters. Edited by T. Heffernan and D. O'Quinn. Broadview Press. ISBN 9781554810420

Kyd, T., (2009) The Spanish Tragedy. Edited by A. Gurr and J.R. Mulryne. (New Mermaids) Methuen. ISBN 9781408114216

Swift, J., (2002) Gulliver's Travels. Edited by A.J. Rivero. Norton. ISBN 9780393957242

Wycherley, W. (2014) The Country Wife. Edited by T. Stern, (New Mermaids) Methuen. ISBN 9781408179895

Molière (2008). The Misanthrope, Tartuffe and Other Plays. Edited by M. Slater. Oxford World's Classics. ISBN 9780199540181

Austen, J. (2019) Pride and Prejudice. Oxford World's Classics. ISBN 9780198826736

Austen, J. (2008) Persuasion. Oxford World's Classics. ISBN 9780199535552

Mack, R.L. (ed) (2009) Arabian Nights' Entertainments. Oxford World's Classics. ISBN 9780199555871

Daniell, D. (ed) (1998) The Arden Shakespeare: Julius Caesar. Methuen. ISBN 9781903436219

Shakespeare, W. (2009). As You Like It. Edited by M. Hattaway. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521732505

Rousseau, J.J. (2008) Confessions. Edited by P. Coleman. Oxford World's Classics. ISBN 9780199540037

Thompson, A. and Taylor, N. (eds) The Arden Shakespeare: Hamlet. Bloomsbury. ISBN 9781472518385

Additional note: judging by the reading list it does look like both Hamlet and Julius Caesar may well be studied. I have no idea what the two Arden Shakespeare study books contain. To prepare, I’ve provided links to ebooks for both of these plays:

Shakespeare, W. (2019) Hamlet. Project Guttenberg.

Shakespeare, W. (2023) Julius Caesar. Project Guttenberg.

A final note is that I'm sure whether the link to Arabian Nights' Entertainments is correct, but I'm sure I'll figure it out when I get to the study materials.


This reading list has been directly liberated from the A334 module website. I have no connection with the module team, and it is entirely possible that this reading list may change. Always rely on the recommendations from the module team, rather than any materials that are mentioned in this blog.

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Christopher Douce

A233 Journal – November 2023

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Edited by Christopher Douce, Monday, 1 Apr 2024, 09:51

1 November 2023

I went to a tutorial about Wharton that was led by a member of the module team and a tutor. It was fabulous! We looked at some close reading skills, which I sense is something that I need to get better at. I asked some questions about the TMA, and got quite a few tips. What I need to do is to edit my TMA template, and get started with reading, and re-reading the passages that we have to analyse.

The presenters mentioned that it is a good idea to complete the module team’s version of the study log, which offers some guidance about reading, and gives us spaces to make some notes. I need to look at this. I also need to look at the activity for week 6, which I think is coming up soon. I’m not adhering to the study calendar as closely as I feel as I ought to; I’m in a situation where I’m trying to get ahead, but ‘life’ and ‘work’ things keep setting me back.

Another comment I’ll make is that I’m nearly through reading the Blunden text for the first time. There was an interesting comment in the tutorial that Wharton also wrote about WW1.

Just to remind myself: I need to edit up a TMA template, get my coloured pens out, and complete those Week 6 activities.

Back to the day job… 

11 November 2023

I’ve done quite a bit of reading. I’ve finished reading Blunden, which I found quite heavy going, and I’ve nearly found my way through The God of Small Things

This is my second time reading The God of Small Things. I first read it when it came out. I only got about a third of the way through before completely losing my way. Although I’m finding it quite a difficult read, I am getting into it, and its description. Since we have a choice in the next bit of the module, I think I’m still drawn to Blunden, but I will, of course, make my way through the module materials, just in case I change my mind at the very last minute.

It's time to prep for the writing of my TMA. 

I’ve already created a blank document with the title. My next step is to transcribe some of the headings from my tutorial notes onto the TMA document, so I remember what is important. When I’ve finished doing that, I’m going to go onto the close reading. My approach is to scribble on a printout of samples of text, with different colours of pen. I am to do my best to get a feel for the text, and hopefully come to a view about similarities and differences.

In between doing all of this, I’m going to go to the gym!

I did have a quick look at the study log files, which have been produced by the module team. I’m a bit worried that my study approach at the moment is predominantly strategic, rather than systematic. I have a lot on in my day job, and outside of my day job, which is why I’m a bit time poor at the moment. 

I need to follow my own advice, which is: “make an appointment with your own studies”.

16 November 2023

It’s TMA submission day!

After proof-reading a printout of my assignment, I make some last minute changes, and make a submission. 

My TMA is slightly under the word count, but I’m pretty happy with what I’ve submitted. I guess I’ll find out how I’ve done in a couple of weeks.

22 November 2023

Almost a week has passed and I’ve hardly done anything!

The last thing I’ve done, which was a couple of days ago, was to look at a book club activity, which was to listen to interviews with various academics about their favourite text, and why they should choose it.

Amongst all the options, I remain drawn to The Age of Innocence, for the simple reason that I really enjoyed The Custom of the Country. I don’t know whether comparing the book club text with a book by a different author would be a good idea. I guess this is a question for one of the tutorials, or to go directly to my tutor. Either way, I need to find some time to do some serious reading of The Age of Innocence.

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