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Feb. 28th, 2009 @ 07:43 pm Help?
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Date:February 28th, 2009 08:25 pm (UTC)
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Hi, I'm a third year English student at Exeter College and hopefully will try to help you out. I'm not sure exactly what you mean by 'not the biggest fan of anaylsing texts', because that's really what an English degree is about - do you mean close textual analysis, as in writing commentaries on poems/short passages? If so, there is not that much of that in the Oxford course - it's required part of for one first year exam and part of one final exam. Poetry, however, you cannot really avoid - almost no one was writing novels until the eighteenth century, and two of the four core period papers fall before that, so for the vast majority of those papers you will be reading quite a lot of poetry and verse drama. You won't, however, have an anthology (those things seem to be mostly awful), but you'd do the poems of Milton, or Spenser, or Browning, or T.S. Eliot.

If you want a course with a creative writing element, Oxford is probably not the one for you. There is plenty of creative writing going on in the University - poetry workshops, creative writing magazines, writer's groups - but there is currently no space to be examined on this as part of your degree. But if you are happy to keep your creative writing as an extra element, then Oxford has lots of opportunities. If you want a degree with a creative writing element, East Anglia is really good, and York (I seem to remember from my own applications) also encourages creative writing. Hope that helps.
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Date:February 28th, 2009 09:44 pm (UTC)
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My comment does pretty well match what you said, it's the commentaries on poems that annoy me because I find it harder to try and decipher what a poet meant in, say, 12 lines than to find their purpose in a full novel. I think choosing what poets to study would make me feel better, having that little bit more control over what type of poems would make me feel as though I could try and understand the poets better over their entire collection of poems, rather than a random selection of poems and poets from across the ages.

I wouldn't mind not being examined on it, it's just the idea of not being able to write it at all. Being constricted to only thinking one way and that way being through analysis only. I've looked at York and am thinking of applying there as well as applying at Oxford; I don't want to pin my hopes solely on this course so York is definately on my list (although that would be a Language & Linguistics course, as opposed to a Lit & Lang course). Thanks for mentioning it.
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Date:March 1st, 2009 01:23 am (UTC)
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Surely no matter where you went, you would be able to do creative writing outside your course? So if you don't mind being examined on it, surely that doesn't even enter into your analysis?

I'm not an english student, but I am at magdalen and my impression is strongly that textural analysis is basically the heart and soul of the oxford english course - it has basically no creative writing element at all. And while you have some control over which poet you want to study, a good deal of it will be dictated by your course, so I wouldn't count on having that much control, at least not until finals.

also, 'being constricuted to only thinking one way and that way being through analysis only' - english literature courses across the country generally do focus on analysis...it's about studying literature over history, not creating your own. You can join a night class for that, you don't have to go to university at all! And as others have said, there is plenty of scope in Oxford for doing that via student societies, but then there will be that scope in any university.

From what you've said, I don't think Oxford is the best course for you. I don't want to put you off, but if you genuinely dislike the bulk of analysis, choosing to go on a course which has basically nothing of what you love - creative writing - seems ill-advised. If it's just Oxford's 'history' that attracts you, I would advise you not to go for it. You're going to spend 3 years studying this course, and if you realise you hate it, no amount of pretty architecture will make up for it.