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
This module considers the state of contemporary poetry in the context of current debates about its role, nature and function, with a focus is on living poets and work published since 1980. We examine such issues as: 'popularising' poetry; the meaning of 'performance' in poetry; the politics of publishing and critical reviewing. During the programme we analyse new anthologies, individual poets such as Simon Armitage, Patience Agbabi, Benjamin Zephaniah, Imtiaz Dharker and Carol Ann Duffy. The main assessment is the student’s own anthology on a topic, theme or form of their choice, such as the city, dream, gender or sonnets. We also link with poets visiting during the Faculty’s cultural eXchanges week.
The dissertation is an extended piece of work (8,000 – 10,000 words) that demonstrates an ability to research a subject independently; construct an argument and substantiate it with appropriate evidence; weigh up relevant critical views in a fluently expressed and well-presented piece of work. We have had the privilege of receiving some excellent dissertations over the years on topics as diverse as ‘Staging in Shakespeare’s Henry VIII’, ‘The Little Mermaid from Page to Screen’, ‘The Figure of the Orphan in Dickens’, ‘The Uncomfortable Poetry of Stevie Smith’, ‘Representations of the Family in Contemporary British-Asian Fiction’, and ‘William Blake and “The Doors”’.
English in the Workplace
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.
This module examines the impact of history, memory and publication media on narrative. Students will examine the production and use of selected narratives in different media: manuscript, print and current digital cultures. It will use well-known English texts of medieval origin that have blended with wider society to become part of our history and modern popular culture: Chaucer, Malory and the Arthurian Legend, Robin Hood and the Ballads tradition, and the Bible and Saints' Legends. This will provide students with opportunities to explore the relationship between a past world and our own representations of it. A distinctive feature of this module is its use of the digital technologies as a vehicle to explore manuscript and print literary production from historical perspectives. The module will provide practical training in html, and students will explore a topic in depth and report his/her research outcomes in the form of a sample website.
Modernism and Modernity
The field of modernist studies is ever-expanding. This module explores the diverse experimental methods used by writers to represent and respond to modernity during 1910-1950. What common characteristics link writers as different as, say, T.S. Eliot and Jean Rhys? To investigate what is meant by the terms 'modernism' and 'modernity' we will analyse selected modernist works in relation to key historical and cultural contexts including: the development of psychoanalysis; World War I and II; changing gender and class relations; the rise of technology; and the decline of Empire. We will also study magazines from this period that supported the publication of modernist writing and examine the important role that magazine culture played in the development of literature of this era. After gaining a good overview of modernist texts and contexts, you can choose to study a specific writer or aspect of modernist literature such as the treatment of time, the city or the self. Writers studied might include James Joyce, D.H. Lawrence, Katherine Mansfield, Ezra Pound, Rebecca West or Virginia Woolf.
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 an outsider 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: Lewis Nkosi, Mating Birds, Sam Selvon, The Lonely Londoners; Meera Syal, Anita and Me; Keri Hulme, The Bone People; Caryl Phillips, A Distant Shore and 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.
Sex and Death in Romantic Writing 1780-1830
We shall study Romanticism as writing produced during a period of sexual, political & social revolution that was also one of death and disease produced by colonial and European war. Subjects for discussion will include: sexual taboos - opium - slavery - war - genius - exploration; interest in the supernatural and Gothic; imaging the afterlife; the quest for identity.
Texts studied may include: John Stedman's slavery narrative, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, border ballads, John Clare's poems of 'madness', Coleridge's Gothic chiller Christabel and Keats's sadomasochistic romance, 'La Belle Dame Sans Merci'.
Sex Belief and Society in 17th-Century Poetry
This module explores erotic, social and political themes in seventeenth century verse. The first half of the module focuses on the poetry of Jonson, Donne, and the minor poets Sir John Roe and Nicholas Hare whose verse is sometimes confused with Donne and Jonson's oeuvre. The second half of the course focuses on Marvell, Milton and Rochester and the impact of libertinism and scepticism on the literary discourse of the age. Students are expected to read the entirety of Paradise Lost, as well as substantially the verse of the other poets, and to be able to form aesthetic as well as intellectual judgments about the nature of the literary achievement. Assessment is made via two equally weighted essays, being one on each of the respective parts. By the end of the course the student ought to have developed a fairly sophisticated understanding of the ways in which verse was employed in the political and social discourse of the period.
Shakespeare and Marlowe
Shakespeare and Marlowe were two of the Renaissance stage’s most significant and influential writers. This module explores the parallels and differences between their dramatic styles, and the ways in which they influenced each other’s work as playwrights, offering a case study of the importance of dramatic rivalry and influence in the development of English theatre in this seminal era. The module is organized thematically, with the plays of Shakespeare and Marlowe studied in pairs and in relation to each other. Organizing themes include ‘Heroic history: Power and Performance’, ‘Tragicomedy and the Stage Jew’ and ‘Magic, Witchcraft and the Pursuit of Knowledge; and the current set texts are Christopher Marlowe’s Tamburlaine the Great, The Jew of Malta and Dr Faustus and Shakespeare’s Henry V, The Merchant of Venice and The Tempest.
Studies in Literature and Film
This course 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. Considering literary texts and adaptations from Shakespeare’s Henry V to Ian McEwan’s Atonement, we debate such issues as authorship and fidelity, historical and ideological contexts, intertextuality, genre, production, consumption, costume and soundtrack, and the relationship of such approaches to what we generally think of as 'English' studies.
Literary and historical writing always takes material forms, whether inscribed on stone or inked onto paper or recorded inside computers. On this module we look closely at three phases in the technologies of writing: medieval manuscripts, printing by movable type, and digital text. We focus attention on the particular revolutionary aspects of each of these technologies and how it transformed writing, its dissemination and consumption. As well as studying the theory and history of these technologies, we employ them in hands-on classes. You will learn to make a quill pen from a feather and write with it, you will learn to set a poem using movable type and a hand-operated printing press, and you will learn how to create a scholarly digital text online.
Textual Studies Using Computers
With computers we can now ask, and answer, questions about literature that nobody has been able to tackle before. Who had the larger vocabulary, William Shakespeare or Jane Austen? What proportion of the places mentioned in Charles Dickens's novels are outside London? Is it really true that c and k are the funniest letters of the alphabet and occur more often in comedies than tragedies? This module gives you hands-on experience of how computers store and process literary texts and then lets you devise your own projects to ask entirely new questions that you think up and attempt to answer. If you already know how to do close reading, this module lets you try out its opposite: distant reading. We will cover such topics as how turning literary texts into lists, indexes and concordances throws new light upon them and how to mash-up literary texts with other sources of knowledge such as geographical, biographical and linguistic data to produce new insights.
Writing the Self: Twentieth and Twenty-First Century Autobiography
What’s in a life? Who do autobiographers think they are? These and the following, related 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? 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? The texts on the course are strikingly varied. This variety will enable our thinking about the above questions to deepen and develop, and modulate according to the different autobiographies we examine.