In my second year of English literature, the focus exam wise shifted from poetry, comedy and the structure of a novel, to the Gothic. We actually got to attend a few lectures from the excellent staff of Manchester Metropolitan university (where the queen of all modern poetry, Carol Ann Duffy, reigns supreme) based on the books before we were officially studying them (possibly the best start to one of my favourite years of studying ever)
For our exam, the specialist question would focus in one one of our set texts and the second essay would be a broader, overall question in which we would write about all of the texts studied. In our case this meant Wuthering Heights for the first question, followed by Wuthering Heights and the bloody chamber for the latter. The Bronte's are writers beloved by many because their works, in a similar way to all those we hail as the greats, speak to us as a modern generation in a way that still flourishes and bursts with life, creativity and energy on every page. Wuthering Heights has never been a favourite book of mine, but studying it in depth made me see it in a new light - it made me see that there is magic in the madness, literally in this novel. Plus classes were always fun because of the way our English teacher set up the activities - we would get to draw things so that we would internalise them better and show how we pictured scenes to others in the class. One that sticks with me is this one day when we had to sketch and label the attributes of the Byronic hero and then use this information to plan out an essay question on whether the character of Heathcliff was truly evil. The bloody chamber (Carter's short story collection) also got me really interested in fairytales and the line between moral and imagined moral - a very intriguing exploration of the gothic to say the least.
For my individual course work, I took Wilfred Owen's poetry (specifically his first and his last poems published) and explored how war impacted on his written style. It was my favourite essay that I have ever put together and one of which I think I will always be immensely proud. His poetic style started off yearning for experience and trying to sound older than it was, whereas the themes were much darker and more complicated as he matured and saw more of the world and of course, mostly they smacked of a wish to no longer know the meaning of experience. Another interesting piece of course work we all had to work on was one based on Irish plays (our teachers taught to their speciality and our lecturer had previously done a masters in Irish literature and had actually met the play wrights we were reading!) I didn't think it would be something I would enjoy at first, but Irish literature has ended up becoming a big part of my life and something I remain fervently interested in and ironically, it was one of the things that led to my focus in American literature.