Critical Debates and Methods
This core module in advanced literary studies helps you make the transition from undergraduate to graduate-level work. You’ll learn about a variety of perspectives on theory and method in English studies, and you’ll acquire the advanced study skills needed to engage in independent research. You’ll also be trained in using electronic research resources.
As well as this, you’ll address questions of canonisation: who decides what and how we read, in university and beyond? What constitutes ‘important’ literature? How do critical responses to it emerge? And what problems and opportunities do these responses pose for your postgraduate study in English Literature?
19th Century Literature and Culture (Pathway)
This pathway allows you to focus your study on the literary and cultural production of the 19th century. You will have the opportunity to take modules that examine the historical, political and aesthetic contexts that influenced the making of the Romantic and Victorian periods. This broad pathway enables analysis of a variety of forms of writing. Modules will be dedicated to specific thematic, generic and stylistic aspects of the century. Topics covered will include the development of the romantic sensibility, the place of religion in the 19th century, the role of women in literature and culture, travel and empire, the limits and possibilities encompassed by the definitions of ‘Romantic’ and ‘Victorian’, and a range of independent study options.
General Literature Studies (Pathway)
This pathway allows you to choose from a wide range of topics, genres and periods, across all of the modules on offer. You have the opportunity to take modules that examine in depth the historical, political and aesthetic contexts in multiple periods. This flexible pathway enables you to pursue your interests across the specialisms offered by our Department.
Early Modern Literature (Pathway)
This specialisation allows you to focus your study on literary and cultural production from the 1500s to 1800s. It gives you the opportunity to take modules that examine the historical, political and aesthetic contexts that influenced the making of the Renaissance period, but also the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries more generally. The modules will consider specific thematic, generic and stylistic questions, allowing you to engage in depth with the plays and poems of Shakespeare and his contemporaries. Topics will include the development of Renaissance print culture and theatre, the history of the body and the emotions in early modern literature, social class and popular literature, contemporary legacies of Renaissance culture, and a range of independent study options.
Modern and Contemporary Writing and Culture (Pathway)
This pathway allows you to focus your study on literary and cultural production since the 1900s. You will have the opportunity to take modules that examine the historical, political and aesthetic contexts that influenced the making of the 20th and 21st centuries. This broad pathway enables analysis of prose, poetic and dramatic forms of writing from the Anglophone world, and in translation. Modules will be dedicated to specific thematic, generic and stylistic aspects of the period and topics covered will include the modernist avant-garde; postmodern experimentation; landscape and the search for place; literature and madness; New York stories; the Irish novel; and a range of independent study options.
Through this module, you’ll develop an increasingly complex understanding of what the Romantic period meant, culturally, historically and in terms of literary development. You’ll examine a variety of genres – poetry and prose, dramatic texts, periodical essays, popular ballads and political tracts. You’ll discover networks of sociable connections between writers, for example Blake and radical London circles, Wollstonecraft and Godwin, Keats and the 'Cockney' circle, to name just a few. But you’ll also explore their contrasting aesthetic and political responses to key social and cultural issues, stimulating different responses to the overarching question, ‘What are Romanticisms?’
Victorian Texts: Visions and Revisions
You’ll have critical encounters with texts from a range of genres, writers and forms of the Victorian period, reading a mixture of canonical and less familiar material. You’ll consider some of the ideas central to 19th-century writing and culture. However, you’ll also compare and contrast various elements of the texts in order to reconsider traditionally received views of the Victorian period.
Each year the module focuses on a particular aspect of Victorian writing, drawing on the research expertise of staff. In recent years, these have included:
- literary Pre-Raphaelitism: text and image
- the Victorians and theatricality: from the stage to the séance
Spaces and Bodies in Early Modern English
In early modern literature, how were bodies shaped by the spaces they inhabited – countries, towns, cities, houses, theatres and other buildings? What do early modern drama, poetry and prose reveal about the history of pleasure, desire, grief, anxiety, shame and melancholy? In this module, you’ll explore the relationship between bodies and spaces in English literature from the 16th to the 18th centuries, forging links between the corporeal and the spatial imagination.
You’ll study examples of:
- travel writing and fantastic voyages
- Elizabethan lyric and epic romance
- the comedies of Shakespeare and his contemporaries
- texts which thematise London and the metropolis.
Shakespeare and his Afterlife
We aim to extend your familiarity with Shakespeare's work and his literary and cultural legacy. You’ll examine key conceptual issues within the field of Shakespeare studies including:
- the status of the Shakespearean text
- the 'truth claims' made by Shakespeare in his work
- the process of recuperating Shakespeare's legacy.
You’ll focus on a number of recurring themes in Shakespeare's work, including the status of knowledge and literary authority, the relationship between love and desire, and the construction of gender. You’ll also examine the literary appropriation of Shakespeare by a range of readers and critics from the 17th to the 21st centuries. We’ll encourage you to place Shakespeare's work within competing historical contexts as a way of problematising current approaches to Shakespeare.
Modern and Contemporary Fiction
You’ll engage with a compelling range of texts written in the 20th and 21st centuries. You’ll concentrate on textual and contextual analysis, and you’ll also consider theoretical approaches to the reading of texts.
Each year the module focuses on a particular aspect of modern and/or contemporary fiction drawing on the research and expertise of staff. In recent years these have included:
- New York stories
- madness, psychoanalysis and literature.
Modern and Contemporary Poetry and Poetics
This is a broad-ranging module in which you’ll trace the interconnections and negotiations between modernist and subsequent poetries, as well as addressing issues of gender and performance. You’ll gain a grounding in major ideas about poetry across the century up to the present day, and in recent theoretical approaches to poetry. The poets you encounter may include Armitage, Auden, Baraka, Jay Bernard, Bishop, Brooks, H.D., Futurist poets, Gunn, Heaney, Larkin, Moore, Plath, Walcott and Williams, among many others
You’ll read texts from a range of genres, writers and forms of the 20th century and consider some of the ideas central to 20th-century writing and culture. You’ll also explore theoretical perspectives that seek to organise and articulate the concerns of modernity and the 20th century – for example, to do with race, sexuality, history or economics.
Each year the module focuses on a particular aspect of 20th-century writing, drawing on the research expertise of staff. In recent years these have included:
- American literature and its transatlantic contexts
- the American Civil War in myth and memory
- the human animal.
Twentieth-Century American Poetry
You’ll develop your understanding of, and sensitivity towards, poetic traditions and forms by exploring American poetry of the 20th century. You’ll also sharpen your knowledge of the specific developments and movements that energised American poetry. By tracing the emergence of a specifically American identity, you'll examine the relationship between poetry and historical events, and the politics that shape both. Other topics may include:
- radical experimentation: Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, Mina Loy
- conservative modernism and neo-classicism: Robert Frost and TS Eliot
- the avant-garde
- poetry and popular culture: Langston Hughes and Hart Crane
- the Beat Poets
- the Language Poets.
This is a great chance to design your own course of study, allowing you to explore an area of literature that fascinates you. You’ll start by producing a detailed project plan, to be agreed with your supervisor and module leader. You’ll develop high-level research skills, manage your own schedule and produce well-structured, articulate work at master’s level. Examples of independent study have included:
- Ecocriticism and Science Fiction
- Poetry and Politics of the Great Depression
- Class in the Black Arts Movement
- Representations of the Witch and Gender in 19th Century fiction
- Word, Image, and Woman in Dante Gabriel Rossetti
- Ghosts in Shakespeare
- Contemporary Metafiction: Auster, Danielewski, McEwan