English at Cambridge

Cambridge Authors has been put together by dozens of people, most of whom did the work when they were students and teachers working in the Faculty of English at the University of Cambridge. We hope the site will pass on some of the energy and enthusiasm with which people study literature here. We also hope that some readers will think about applying to study English at Cambridge as a result. If you want to find out more about that might involve, please read on.

Since the Faculty's own website has good pages on all this, let's direct you there first. This page is the starting point and gives a bit of history: http://www.english.cam.ac.uk/index.htm

If you want to know about applications, head for this page: http://www.english.cam.ac.uk/undergraduate/index.htm

There is not much point in repeating all the details about how to apply, or the intricacies of the course. Nevertheless, there are some things to add from a Cambridge Authors perspective. The writers covered here span a broad historical range (from Marlowe, writing in the 1580s, to authors working today). Students here go further back - to Chaucer and beyond - and they can range further afield, into American literature, Postcolonial literature, literature in other languages, and more. It's a special feature of the Cambridge course that it enables students to cover a great deal of ground while having a lot of choice in what they work on, and how they work on it. Small-group teaching, based around students' essays, helps foster individual interests and talents. This culture is one of the things that has made Cambridge Authors such a diverse collection of materials and perspectives. Very few of the resources here were simply dreamt up by the general editors; it's been a truly collaborative effort.

If you are thinking of applying to university to read English - or any degree involving literary criticism - and you have found yourself on Cambridge Authors, we hope spending time here might bring some benefit. You might use it to lead you towards new books to read, or towards new angles on the ones you've already read. You might find a new way of thinking about literature, or some contextual information that alters your perspective. Many of the resources here invite your input: please do send in your responses. The skills and experience involved could be handy in developing your studies now, or the admissions process ahead, or indeed your future course.

But this project is not just for people thinking of applying to Cambridge. There are lots of good English courses, all with their particular strengths and special features. And, of course, people don't always read books with a view to academic study. This site might be an enhancement or an encouragement to reading for pleasure, as well. Everyone interested is welcome!

However, we do hope Cambridge Authors will encourage some people who may not be sure that Cambridge is for them to apply to study here. The contributors who produced these essays come from all over the UK and beyond, and from all different backgrounds. This isn't a group of stereotypical Cambridge boffins showing off: it's a group of committed, keen, interesting people, hoping to share what they're enjoying. Whoever you are and whatever your reasons for joining us, you can be sure you are very welcome.

Andrew Zurcher

Raphael Lyne

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