Hey, I’m Conor, and I’ve just graduated from Oxford with a first-class degree in English.
As a university student, I was lucky enough to be able to learn through enjoyable, intellectually rewarding one-to-one discussion – where I could work through my ideas and develop my thinking freely, without fear of getting things muddled or being outright baffled by something. As a tutor, I try to create an easy-going, stimulating environment that encourages independence and originality of thought, and provides everything you need to achieve your aims as a student. I’m happy to be led by your interests and ideas, to help you flesh them out further and articulate them with greater clarity; I’m equally happy, if you’d prefer, to guide more decisively your approach to a text or topic.
My tuition is geared towards securing the results you want. I’m as keen to help you develop your techniques for gleaning all you can from a poem or a passage from a novel, for example, as I am to hone your faculties as a critical reader of more argument-led texts, like philosophy, and the kinds of documents you might study as sources in History. Reading closely, like paying close attention to anything, takes effort. I’ll assist you in learning to notice things – parallels and points of connection in literary texts, or inconsistencies in arguments – but also to use what you notice in interesting ways: to push your thinking further and express your ideas confidently in writing, and to find canny ways of shaping your points to strengthen and spice up your work.
But we can also talk about why this stuff matters! Asking why something is worth reading in the first place, and sussing out precisely what’s at stake in reading it, will shine a path through to the big questions posed by a poem, play, or philosophical treatise. We’ll engage with these kinds of texts not just as strange and distant artefacts, but as experiences in reading, where our own confusions and uncertainties in approaching a text are recognised as valid within, even necessary for, the richness of those experiences.
I’ve spent three years studying English literature from the Anglo-Saxon period to the present day, including world literature translated into English, and my interests are widespread and various: we can discuss whatever you like! I’ve been compelled and jolted and rattled and changed by texts more times than I can count, and I’d love to help you through your study of literature in any way I can – whether that’s by aiding your essay technique, or developing more sophisticated theoretical approaches to texts, or finding apposite points of comparison between texts, or working through your encounter with a difficult text for the first time.
My study of English has been shaped in many ways by my passion for Philosophy, which I’m also offering to tutor at A-Level: literary and philosophical texts exist relative to each other, and whether that relationship is strained and antagonistic or harmonious, it’s always interesting. I’m comfortable discussing several branches of the A-Level syllabus, especially politics and ethics, and I’m particularly enthused by 19th and 20th century existentialist philosophies, namely those of Nietzsche and Kierkegaard. I can also help you to properly nail your personal statement, if you’re applying to university, and to advise on applying to Oxbridge and preparing for the entrance exams – the ELAT, if you're looking to study English.
I’ve tutored at GCSE and A-Level, and have returned several times to my state school in Bristol to give lessons on Shakespeare, Yeats, and William Blake. At university, I’ve chaired poetry discussion groups and been closely involved in a project to creatively translate Old English poetry with AS- and A-Level students. I’ve taught a range of ages and abilities, and I understand that certain topics and concepts are tougher to crack than others, which is absolutely fine – that’s what I’m here for! We can move at whatever pace you like through a subject until you feel confident with it.
Please do contact me if you’re interested in tuition in any of the fields I offer! We can talk through where you’re at, what you’d like help with, and then take it from there.
|English Literature||A Level||£20 /hr|
|Philosophy||A Level||£20 /hr|
|English Literature||GCSE||£18 /hr|
|-Oxbridge Preparation-||Mentoring||£20 /hr|
|-Personal Statements-||Mentoring||£20 /hr|
|English Language and Literature||Bachelors Degree||1st|
|Before 12pm||12pm - 5pm||After 5pm|
Please get in touch for more detailed availability
Ranjeet (Parent) September 13 2016
Calvin (Student) October 28 2016
Ranjeet (Parent) October 22 2016
Calvin (Student) October 8 2016
Shakespeare’s blank verse – lines of unrhymed iambic pentameter – can feel somewhat samey. All of the plays depend upon it, even take it for granted, as the bedrock of their poetry; most characters speak it. A Shakespeare play is no one-trick pony, though, and neither should you be in writing about one. These plays rely upon blank verse precisely because of its flexibility and adaptability, its capacity for mutation and deviation from what may seem like its own unquestionable rules, and as such its usefulness for conveying and describing extraordinary varieties of emotional, psychological, and narrative experience.
So beware platitudes, and beware making points that go no further than observing how blank verse is more formal, high-register, and well-ordered than prose, which is messy and crude, or how blank verse is often spoken by the important and powerful people, whereas prose is usually voiced by comparatively insignificant, lower-class characters. The difficulty of a Shakespeare play is due in large part to the self-consciousness of its techniques, which are annoyingly, smart-arsedly good at second-guessing or double-bluffing our responses to them: if it seems too easy, it probably is. In Richard II, for example, the threatened King speaks in incredibly regular iambic pentameter, often with reassuringly masculine line-endings (where the very last syllable is stressed), and often ending his chunk of speech with a rhyming couplet: “then, if angels fight/weak men must fall, for heaven still guards the right”. The meter suggests a suitably kingly order and regularity; the rhyme an unshakeable harmony, overseen by Heaven. But there’s a problem: for all his performed confidence, Richard is – or should be – very rattled indeed. In the line I’ve quoted, he is mere moments from invasion by the army of Henry, who wants his throne and will eventually kill him for it. But Richard insists on speaking like this, very calm and measured, very melodic, his rhymes asserting indisputable patterns of connection and cause-and-effect: the “fight” that is imminent with the forthcoming invasion will, he believes and his rhyme seems to suggest, be won by him and his army, the “right”, because as a King he is divinely ordained and protected. Shakespeare’s rhyme and meter here function extremely ironically, for Richard is only saying what he, and everyone around him, wants to hear, and in the process constructing a world of words which will dissolve immediately on contact with reality, burst like a balloon pricked “with a little pin [that]/bores through his castle wall, and farewell king!” His rhymes might yet seduce us into believing his hype. Here a point about rhyme and meter can branch out into further points, like performance (how, for example, one production might sustain Richard’s fantasy of control and then shockingly undermine it where another might make clear from the start just how deluded he is).
Making points about Shakespeare isn’t just about what you notice, then – and there’s plenty to spot! – but what you do with what you notice, and how far you can build it into a bigger argument you want to make about the play. Latch onto, rather than ignore, what strikes you as weird, because blank verse is designed to accommodate Shakespeare’s weirdness; at the same time, think carefully about why what seems normal at a metrical or rhyming level is, in fact, normal, and what that might say about what you expect to be normal, or about the forces in the play that get to decide what is normal. Thinking about the metrical and rhyming form of language involves thinking about the political, ideological and philosophical forces that shape it and the creatures who speak it; forces that you yourself are not immune to, never less so than in the act of reading or listening to others. Shakespearian rhyme and meter constantly goad us into making assumptions and interpretive decisions. Be prepared to think carefully about why you've made them, and you're well on your way!see more