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English BA (Hons) Year three modules

The English BA (Hons)| modules listed below are just to give you a flavour of what is available in your third year and are subject to change.

Joint and Single Honours

English Dissertation (compulsory)*
Students will propose, refine, develop, research and write a dissertation on a topic accepted and supervised by a member of the English team.

*As a Joint Honours student you can choose to do your dissertation in English or your other subject.

The Working Class in Literature and Film
While issues of gender, race, and sexuality are rightly explored in the study of literature and film, the topic of class has recently been marginalised.  Issues of class are as relevant as ever, and this module will study the rise in the working-class voice in literature and film across the 19th and 20th centuries.  Drawing on the rich history of working-class writing and, after the turn of the 20th century, film, the module will encourage students to question conventional treatments of working-class lives and experience through an exploration of the varied ways in which middle- and working-class authors and working-class film-makers have approached a variety of experience and topics in the representation of the working-class.  The texts and films will range from the popular to the experimental and political, and students will be encouraged to explore and compare a number of theoretical approaches. Literary texts are likely to include work by Ernest Jones, Thomas Cooper, Robert Blatchford, Robert Tressell, Ethel Carnie Holdsworth, James Kelman and Andrea Levy.  Film-makers studied will include Charlie Chaplin, Joan Littlewood, Bill Douglas and Ken Loach.

Contemporary Poetry
This module will take a hard look at the state of contemporary poetry in the context of current debates about its role, nature and function. The focus is on living poets and work published since 1980. We will examine such issues as: 'popularising' poetry through initiatives like Poetry Day or Poetry in Places; the meaning of 'performance' in poetry; the influence of the postmodern; the treatment of narrative; the disorientating and dialogic use of the lyric voice; and the oral/literary dialogue, especially in relation to gender, race and class. We shall also address the politics of publishing and critical reviewing with reference to the perceived interrelation between a literary mainstream and its counter-currents. During the programme we analyse new anthologies, individual poets such as Simon Armitage, Matthew Sweeney, Patience Agbabi, Benjamin Zephaniah, Imtiaz Dharker and Carol Ann Duffy.

The programme may also include visiting poets and speakers, such as editors or publishers. These may be linked to the Faculty's Cultural Exchanges festival.

Writing the Self
What’s in a life? Who do autobiographers think they are? This module explores how a variety of twentieth- and twenty-first century autobiographers have gone about the intriguing and often elusive task of ‘writing the self’. The following sets of questions will form the kernel of the module: 1) Does autobiography tell ‘the truth’ about a person’s life and, if so, what kind of truth does it tell? Do autobiographers ‘tell it like it was’ or is the past always subject to rival interpretations? 2) What different ideas about self and identity do the autobiographies on the course express? 3) If one of the ways in which autobiographies express a sense of a self is through an emphasis upon individuality and individualism, then what different forms can individualism take? Individualism can, after all, signify ‘healthy’ independence or ‘unhealthy’ egocentricity and narcissism. The texts on the course are strikingly varied, both in terms of their formal characteristics and the gender, class and ethnic background of the autobiographers. This variety will enable our thinking about the above questions to deepen and develop, and modulate according to the different autobiographies we examine.

We will also consider the ‘aesthetics’ of autobiography – in other words, what makes a ‘good’ autobiography.

English in the Workplace (Single Honours only)
This module aims to integrate the study of English with work experience in order to better qualify and prepare students for future employment.  You will work voluntarily with an English-related employer for 5 hours a week for 5-6 weeks, reflecting on the ways in which the skills acquired during your English degree are put to use.  A journal will be kept of your daily activities and you will give a 10 minute presentation towards the end of the module, outlining how you have and can use English within a particular career structure, based on your experience in the workplace.

Studies in Literature and Film
This module aims to introduce students to the field of literature and film - an area of study which draws upon critical expertise in both English and Film Studies.   We shall not only be discussing 'classic' literary  adaptations - where 'great' novels and plays, such as Pride and Prejudice and Hamlet are translated on to the large and small screen - but also the phenomenon of the 'novelisation' and examples of multiple adaptations in which the original text is irrelevant, lost or forgotten. The module is delivered through workshops and screening sessions.   Students should come to their weekly workshop well prepared to discuss the scheduled texts, as student participation is essential to the workshop structure. All students are expected to read/view all primary texts as well as exploring some theoretical and analytical approaches to adaptation in general. We shall debate such issues as authenticity and fidelity, the status of the original, narrative approaches to adaptation, historical and ideological contexts (of both original and adaptation), conditions of production, consumption and audiences and the relationship of such approaches to what we generally think of as 'English' studies. Naturally this will prompt us to investigate the consequences of the recognition of such forms within academia for the future of English as a lone subject. As part of their assessment, students are invited to write their own adaptation from a scene/chapter/sequence of one of the set texts.

Modernism and Modernity
This third level module is in two parts. The first looks at what we mean by the term 'modernism'. Are there any common characteristics that link writers as different as, say, T.S. Eliot and D. H. Lawrence or James Joyce and Virginia Woolf? By analysing a range of key modernist writers we gain a clearer understanding of the problematic relationships between modernism and modernity. Having gained a general overview of some of the problems surrounding the definition of modernism, students can study a specific aspect of the term in the second part of the module, for example, the culture of the little magazines and the contributions they made to the shaping of modernism or the urban nature of modernist writing.

Shakespeare and Marlowe
Shakespeare and Marlowe were two of the Renaissance stage’s most significant and influential writers. This module seeks to explore the parallels and differences between their dramatic styles, and the ways in which they influenced each other’s work as playwrights. In this respect, the module will offer a case study of the importance of dramatic rivalry and influence in the development of English theatre in this seminal era. The module will be organized thematically, with the plays of Shakespeare and Marlowe studied in pairs and in relation to each other. Possible set texts include, Christopher Marlowe’s Dr Faustus, The Jew of Malta, and Tamburlaine; and Shakespeare’s The Tempest, The Merchant of Venice, and Henry V. Organizing themes might include ‘Magic and Theatre’; ‘The Stage Jew in Renaissance Comedy’; and 'Heroic History'. Each play will be studied in the historical, cultural and theatrical context in which it was produced and in relation to one of these broad themes, but students will be encouraged to draw comparisons and make links between all of the plays studied on the module.

Postcolonial Writing
This course explores texts that span the second half of the twentieth century up to the present. The fiction and poetry in this ‘post-empire’ period particularly question the relationship between literature, language and identity. They often dwell on the figure of the migrant or the condition of migrancy in both their negative and positive formulations. Contingent concepts are the significance of place, the search for community, the psychology of home/lessness and hybridity as a conflicted identity. Indicative primary works are: Sam Selvon, The Lonely Londoners; V.S Naipaul, The Mimic Men; Meera Syal, Anita and Me; Keri Hulme, The Bone People; Zadie Smith, White Teeth, Caryl Phillips, A Distant Shore and various poetry texts supplied in workshops. A seminar paper presented to the group gives students the opportunity to gain confidence in handling the critical terms but it is marked as a written piece.

British Drama 1956 to the Present
This module will look at the development of British theatre from the kitchen sink dramas of the 1950s and 60s through to the explosion of the ‘In Yer Face’ plays of the 1990s. It will show how ‘In Yer Face’ arose out of social realism despite obvious differences between the two genres. The module will also examine the changing conception of theatre during this period for example the abolition of censorship, the decline of provincial theatre, the establishment of the National Theatre and the rise of fringe theatre. The Theatre Archive Project will be integral to the module enabling students to access first hand accounts of theatre particularly but not exclusively from 1945-68.The Project, in conjunction with the British Library, consists of interviews with people involved in theatre from 1945 to 1968 and will be ongoing into the present. Finally, the module will provide students with an opportunity to explore the art of play reviewing and script writing.

Contemporary Fiction
This module will look at eight to ten works of contemporary fiction in depth. The focus will be on how they address aspects of modern Britain. The module will also examine the language used by critics and reviewers of contemporary fiction. Finally, the module will consider similarities and differences between different types of fiction e.g. that which is labelled serious and that which is labelled mere entertainment. The purpose of the module will be to show the variety of concerns in contemporary fiction and the different techniques used to convey them.

Text Technologies 

Literary and historical texts have always come down to us in material forms. These forms have included: stone and wax tablets inscribed with a chisel or stylus; ink applied by hand to sheets of papyrus, parchment, vellum or paper; ink impressed by machine onto leaves in printed books; and patterns of zeroes and ones punched into the surfaces of optical disks, stored as magnetic zones on hard drives, and held as electron charges within capacitors on computer microchips. This module is concerned with how these material forms function and how they have shaped the writings we read. (The technical details of how computers store texts will be treated schematically, not at the level of optical- and electro-mechanics.) We will proceed chronologically looking at each of these technologies in turn. The module is divided into three 8-week parts, covering in turn “Inscriptions, manuscript, incunabula: Writing up to the year 1500”, “Printing 1501-2000”, and “Digital texts: 2000 and beyond”. These developments in text technologies overlapped extensively--writing continued after the invention of printing and digital books have not (or not yet) replaced paper ones--but they will be studied as three discrete historical phases in order to focus attention on the particular revolutionary aspects of each and how they transformed writing, its dissemination and consumption. We will consider such questions as how print disrupted and displaced manuscript culture, how the changing economics of textual dissemination affect what gets written and disseminated, and how reading is shaped by the medium in which the writing is embodied. By the end of the module, students will have had practical experience of the mechanical and technological processes involved in hand-printing using movable type, and practical experience of the creation of an online scholarly resource.

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