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Interdisciplinary Learning Courses

Reading Club

Reading Club Reading Club
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Interdisciplinary Learning CoursesReading club

“Reading is useless”, said no one ever

Choosing a book is like choosing a fellow traveller with whom you are willing to spend a couple of weeks of your life. A wrong choice may result in a boring and painful trip. Pick a good book and time will fly. But what’s next? What about all those ideas that are born from this journey?

Reading club is a space where you can share, compare and discuss your thoughts with others, and solve your existential doubts (of course you have them. Everyone does). We will learn about historical and social context of English-speaking countries through short stories of classic and contemporary authors, make connections with our reality, and more importantly, learn how literature can open doors to imagination and comprehension. Sounds like fun!


Learning Objectives


  • To learn about social and historical context of English-speaking countries
  • To read and analyse English-speaking contemporary and classic literature
  • To improve communicative skills in English
  • To learn how to express more complicated ideas in English
  • To understand how literary devices can be used in literature

Contents of the Subject

Reading club

  • 1) Introduction. American and British literature. In this session, we are going to analyse some of the British and American texts, making special emphasis on social and historical differences. On the example of some classic texts, we will try to understand the relations that the New and the Old Worlds have had and what is the contemporary literary panorama in the USA and the UK.
  • 2) Victorian London. Industrialization and literature. In this session, we are going to have a close look at the economic and social phenomenon that had a huge impact all around the world. How did the industrialization change the world? We are going to read some stories, where the industrialized society is described and see how the economic factor influenced on the literary movements and arts in general.
  • 3) What do Nietzsche and Freud have to do with the literary modernism?In this session, we are going to see the connection between literature and philosophy in the 20th century. How did the most influential philosophers change the literary genres, concepts and even form? Why did those changes take place? We will try to analyse the link between philosophy and fiction on the example of the short stories of the beginning of the 20th century.
  • 4) Irish literature. How James Joyce invented post-modernism before it was a thing.In this session, we are going to talk about one of the most important authors of the 20th century. On the example of one of the short stories from the selection Dubliners we will explain how he described a whole nation in his texts and try to understand why his books were prohibited all around the world for so many years.
  • 5) Ekphrasis. What is it and what does it have to do with literature?Ekphrasis can be generally defined as ‘a vivid, often dramatic, verbal description of a visual work of art, either real or imagined.’ We will try to evoke the relationship between the arts and the written word through short stories and, who knows, maybe even some poems.
  • 6) New Yorker. Why does everyone want to be published in this magazine? In this session, we are going to explain why New Yorker is considered one of the most important literary magazines worldwide. Stories by Salinger, Nabokov, Updike and other classics appeared on the pages of the magazine, and the greatest American and international writers take it as a privilege to be featured in it. We will read a couple of short stories from New Yorker and try to understand the reason of the hype.
  • 7) The Angel in the HouseIn this session, we are going to talk about the second wave of feminism and discuss some of the greatest texts written by women. On the example of the short story by Virginia Woolf, we are going to talk about the suffragism and gender roles in the beginning of the 20th century.
  • 8) The greatest openings of the novels.We are going to discuss the most incredible first phrases of the novels of the English-speaking writers. How can a writer engage the reader from the very beginning? What is the secret formula? Is there one? Is it important to catch reader´s attention from the very beginning? How does the opening influence our experience of the novel? In the session, we will try to answer those questions and share our thoughts about the importance of the first contact with a book.
  • 9) Essays and non-fiction. Where is a catch? In the USA, essay is one of the most important filters for the selection of the students in the universities, employees or candidates for any position in different fields. Why is it so important? What are the features of a really good essay?
    We are going to analyse some of the greatest non-fictional texts and see why this genre is so important in the American tradition. We are going to read some essays about contemporary issues, and who knows, maybe even write one.
  • 10) Is it easy to write a funny story?We are going to read some short stories where satire, irony and comedy are essential. We are going to discuss the most influential writers of the genre of all times, as Mark Twain, Oscar Wilde and J. Swift, and try to understand the secret of their popularity. Can you make someone laugh out loud with a text? We will figure it out.
  • 11) Science fiction. Should we be afraid of the AI?In this session, we are going to read some of the most popular sci-fi writers of the 20th century. Were they inspired by the technical progress or did they actually predict it?
  • 12) All you need is love.In this session, we are going to have a look on the love stories. Parents, couples, friends… we all know the feeling, but how to write about it in a relatable way? Why the most human feeling is the most difficult to explain? We are going to analyse some texts of different authors who wrote about love and see if they accomplished the task.
  • 13) Loneliness and AlienationIn this session, we are going to discuss another powerful and very human feeling which is loneliness. Sometimes being lonely is not the same as being alone. Why is everyone acquainted with the feeling? How can we prevent it and what can be done in order to get comprehended and accepted? Some short stories that we are going to read will help us to understand how a lonely person actually feels and what tools author has to describe it.
  • 14) Social Change and InjusticeThere are so many instances of injustice in the world: poverty, discrimination, chauvinism, non-conformism to name just a few. How can we overcome those problems? What can be done in order to educate new generations to respect other people regardless of their race, gender and background? In this session, we are going to discuss short stories that describe different aspects of social injustice, and try to answer the question: Can literature change the way some people see things?
  • 15) Rap. Poetry of the 21st centuryIn our last session, we are going to speculate about the development of the modern literature. Where is it going? What are the new genres? Will TV kill the literature? One of the hypotheses that I offer is that rap is actually a new literary genre. Urban poetry has adapted to the new reality and rap lyrics is a powerful voice of the new generation, full of allusions, metaphors, and philosophy. Do you agree?

Professor

profesor Professor of Reading club

Elena Navrotskaya

Graduated in Journalism from Moscow State University. She did a master's degree in Advertising and Business from the UB, a master's degree in Spanish and Ibero-American Thought from the UAM, a master's degree in Teacher Training from Nebrija University. PhD in Hispanic Studies from the UAM (Cum Laude Mention).
She has extensive experience in the teaching field. She was a teacher of English and subjects related to history and culture for many years, teaching in training centers, academies and schools. She has official certificates that certify her mastery of English (CPE) and Spanish (DELE C2) and her professional skills (CELTA). She currently teaches bachelor's and master's courses (Curricular Development in English, English Didactics, Organization of Bilingual Centers in Spain) at two universities. She is interested in teaching methodologies, literature (she is studying English Studies at UNED) and music.