Senior Literature Society (Lit Soc):
This is open both to Sixth Form English Literature students, but also to any Sixth Formers with a love of literature and the arts.
The five aims of Lit Soc:
1. To cultivate passion, nurture cultural curiosity, and provide intellectual challenge.
2. To demonstrate that the study of literature provides you with skills and knowledge that are highly transferable and relevant, both in academic and everyday spheres.
3. To provide you with interesting and diverse things to talk about in a Personal Statement or Uni interview.
4. To support, consolidate and extend what you have studied on the curriculum.
5. To allow students more ownership, creative scope and informal enjoyment than is permitted by regular curriculum time.
The Booker Prize Challenge:
This is an initiative which runs every Christmas Term, whereby Sixth Form students are challenged to read all six novels on the Booker Prize shortlist before the winner is revealed in mid-October. Members of the English Department each choose a novel from the shortlist to read, and then run a discussion session with those students who have managed to read it. It is an enriching and edifying endeavour to acquaint oneself with an eclectic range of genres, writing styles, structures, themes, and contexts.
Lit Soc presentations / lectures:
Students and staff alike are warmly invited to talk to the Society about a literary enthusiasm of theirs; the richer in potential interpretations and implied meanings the better! An interactive element in these sessions is important, so that students are not only enriched with new information, but also have the opportunity to express their emotional responses and to debate and evaluate interpretations.
Absorbing and challenging discussions have been held on the following poems: ‘The Wasteland’ by TS Eliot; ‘To His Coy Mistress’ by Andrew Marvell; ‘The Ruined Maid’ by Thomas Hardy; ‘The Garden of Love’ by William Blake; and 'The Masque of Anarchy' by Percy Bysshe Shelley. Last year students delivered extremely impressive talks on Sylvia Plath (the influences of her personal life on both ‘The Bell Jar’ and various seminal poems, and a comparison of their styles and content) and Virginia Woolf's 'Orlando'.
Discussions of theatrical productions and literary movie adaptations:
One of the very few upsides of the Covid 19 lockdown was the plethora of wonderful productions available to consume for free on a variety of online platforms; either side of 'Culture in Quarantine', we were able to benefit from National Theatre screenings of productions at nationwide cinemas and KES's subscription to Digital Theatre Plus.
We have had illuminating and in-depth critical discussions of the National Theatre productions of ‘Twelfth Night’ starring Tamsin Greig and an extraordinary 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' directed by Nicholas Hytner; the RSC production of ‘The Tempest’ starring Simon Russell Beale; the BBC television adaptation of 'Normal People'; Autumn de Wilde's new movie adaptation of 'Emma'; and many more.
These are staged as formal debates, with proposition and opposition speakers, a panel of judges, and questions from the floor. We have only held one thus far, on the set text 'Atonement' by Ian McEwan, and in response to the motion, "Briony Tallis is successful in achieving her 'atonement'". The debate was both vociferous and nuanced, and will have proven most valuable for the students’ further critical exploration of the novel, as well as other works in McEwan’s canon and in the Crime genre in general.
Future ideas for debate motions include, "'The Great Gatsby' is devoid of sympathetic female characters"; "Othello and Desdemona's marriage would have been happy were it not for the machinations of Iago"; and "In the literature of love, men control women".