English Language and Literature

Why English at St Anne’s?

St Anne’s College, Oxford is one of the best places to study English anywhere in the world. Like other Oxford colleges, we give you the opportunity to read a challenging and wide range of literature with the individual attention of expert tutors (more information about the Oxford English course is available from the English Faculty here and here).  However, at St Anne’s we feel we offer some important advantages which distinguish us from many colleges and make us an excellent choice for students wanting to read English.

1. Our breadth of tutors

Unlike most other colleges, we have tutors and researchers whose interests span the whole syllabus from Old English to the present. Your tutors will include Siân Grønlie (Old and Middle English), Laura Seymour (Shakespeare and Renaissance literature), Freya Johnston (eighteenth century and Romantic literature), Matthew Reynolds (nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first century literature). You will also encounter Andrew Klevan, a university lecturer in film studies. All of us are interested in how English interacts with other media (e.g. art, film, music) and with writing in other languages: we work closely with our humanities colleagues to teach the ‘joint honours’ courses English and Modern Languages  and Classics and English. While you will also be taught by tutors at other colleges, at St Anne’s you can always rely on our tutors’ range of expertise if you have queries, problems or thoughts that you would like to share with us.

2. Our breadth of students

We also have a relatively large cohort of English students. We usually admit up to twelve applicants a year, and the college is home to postgraduate research students and American visiting students. You will meet people from a wide range of backgrounds, and with a wide range of interests; St Anne’s is one of the most diverse as well as friendliest colleges at the university. We hope that you will benefit from our highly personalised, individual teaching and that you will also feel part of a broader literary community at the college.

3. Our programme of literary events

You might get involved in the student-led Literary Society and attend our interdisciplinary ‘subject family’ seminars. Or perhaps you will come along to the swathe of exciting events run by the college-based Oxford Comparative Criticism and Translation Research Centre (OCCT). Each year the Weidenfeld Professor of Comparative Literature spends a term at St Anne’s, delivering their lectures and meeting students: recent postholders have included Ali Smith, Durs Grünbein, Mario Vargas Llosa and Amos Oz. More details of the Weidenfeld lectures are available here. We also host the Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize, a national literary award designed to celebrate the translation of European literature into English (details here). Our Plumer Visiting Fellowship scheme brings distinguished international academics to St Anne’s to give talks and join in the teaching, and we hold social events for our students  throughout the year.

4. Our library

St Anne’s has one of the biggest college libraries, including an excellent, continually updated English Language and Literature section. The library also has an impressive archive of older books and manuscripts, many of which we use in our undergraduate teaching. And if you need a book which we don’t have, the English Faculty Library  is only a five minutes’ walk through the lovely University Parks (and the main Bodleian Library is only ten minutes from the college).

5. Our history, and our future

St Anne’s graduates have achieved great things. Writers such as Iris Murdoch, Helen Fielding and Zoe Heller studied here; other graduates have gone on to become leading literary critics (Gillian Beer, Jenny Uglow), journalists (Polly Toynbee, Lynn Barber, Melanie Phillips, Hadley Freeman) and broadcasters (Libby Purves, Tina Brown), as well as teachers, actors, musicians and aid workers. The so-called ‘creative industries’ (advertising, marketing, publishing) have long been interested in English graduates. An Oxford English degree can equip you for many different careers, and St Anne’s devotes ample resources to helping you in the years after you graduate. English students here are very well placed to make the most of Oxford’s future, as well as its past; the university’s humanities departments and research centres are increasingly moving to a site opposite St Anne’s, and we are currently working to expand the number of literary events we offer to our undergraduates. We hope that you will be intrigued by what we are doing now; but we also that you will help us shape the study and enjoyment of English literature in the years ahead.