Module
descriptions

for BA (Hons) Liberal Studies (English)

Introduction to Medieval and Renaissance Literature

This module will introduce students to the major authors, texts and critical concepts within the fields of Medieval and Renaissance Literature. You will study authors and their writings in the light of genre conventions, historical contexts and modern critical perspectives. The course will cover such topics as Beowulf, Chaucer, Old English poetry, Medieval Romance, Dream vision poetry, the Mystery Plays, Utopian literature, Henrician court poetry, Elizabethan and Jacobean poetry, Sermons, Epic Poetry (eg Spenser, Milton, Dryden), Renaissance and Restoration Drama (eg Citizen Comedy, Satire, Revenge Tragedy, Restoration adaptation of Shakespeare). Relevant historical contexts may include such topics as Medieval chivalry, Humanism, Christianities and the Reformation, Magic and Witchcraft, the Medieval and Renaissance Court, the English Civil War / The Wars of the Three Kingdoms, The Interregnum and Restoration. 

Introduction to Eighteenth Century and Romantic Literature

This module will introduce students to the major authors, texts, ideas and critical concepts within the fields of Eighteenth Century and Romantic Literature. You will study authors and their writings in the light of genre conventions, historical contexts and modern critical perspectives.  The course will cover such topics as the emergence of the novel and its various genres (eg Realism, Gothic, Picaresque, Sentimentalism, Epistolary novels), Augustan poetry, prose and drama, the Comedy and Novel of Manners (eg Sheridan, Jane Austen), Travel Writing, the Essay (eg Johnson, Hazlitt), Romantic poetry and prose (eg Blake, William and Dorothy Wordsworth, Coleridge, Charlotte Turner Smith, De Quincey, Keats, Mary and Percy Shelley, Byron), political treatises (eg Burke, Wollstonecraft, Godwin, Paine), theories of imaginative creativity and  concepts of beauty (eg the picturesque, the beautiful and the sublime). Relevant historical contexts may include such issues as the emergence of the party system, the rise of journalism, the Grand Tour, the agricultural and industrial revolutions, urbanization, the British Empire, the American and French Revolutions and their aftermath, Feminism, the History of Science.   

Introduction to Victorian and Modern Literature

This module will introduce students to the major authors, texts, ideas and critical concepts within the fields of Victorian and Modern Literature. You will study authors and their writings in the light of genre conventions, historical contexts and modern critical perspectives.  The course will cover such topics as the development of the Victorian novel and its subgenres, Victorian poetry, the Pre-Raphaelite Movement, Feminism and Women's writing, Victorian Gothic, Nature Writing, Aestheticism, the Fin-de-Siècle, Impressionism, Modernist fiction, poetry, drama and non-fiction, the 1930s, War literature, post-war writing, ethnic minority Literature, contemporary poetry and fiction. Relevant historical contexts may include such issues as the 'Condition of England' question, the modernization of the State, the British Empire and its wars, Victorian and Twentieth century capitalisms, the History of Science, the rise of psychiatry and psychoanalysis, feminism, socialism, Marxism and the Labour movement, democratization, the rise of mass media, the development of Photography and Cinema, the Spanish Civil War, the world wars, multi-culturalism.  

Introduction to Literary Theory and Criticism

This module will intrude you to the major techniques and theories of contemporary literary analysis. Alongside practical considerations such as exploring the distinctions between ‘literature’ and other writing, practicing close reading of literary texts, and understanding poetics and narrative, you will be introduced to some key figures in the modern history of literary theory which emerged in the late twentieth century. There will be introductions and discussion of cultural materialism, structuralism, post-structuralism and particular critical schools such as Feminism, Postcolonialism and Historicism. Short literary texts such as extracts and short stories will be used to put into practice what we discuss more abstractly.

Introduction to Creative Writing

This is an introduction to Creative Writing practice which focuses on what is both one of the oldest and also most contemporary forms of creative expression: narrative nonfiction. From Augustine’s Confessions to the essays of Montaigne to Cheryl Strayed's Wild, since the beginning of Western Civilization, writers have been using the material of their lives as a way to explore what it means to be human and to tell stories that help all of us illuminate our common humanity. The first half of the course will focus on six experimental drafts written as a response to prompts drawn from a variety of contemporary essays, and exploring topics like the use of the senses, memory, character development, dialogue, story-telling, perspective, close observation, and the development of insight.

In the second half of the course, students will work on their drafts, developing them further with a focus on key skills: the use of structure, point of view, language, voice, finding the “heart” of the essay, the use of feedback, planning revision, re-drafting, writing for a reader, the role of paragraphs in prose, the difference between deep and surface editing.

Intermediate Creative Writing

This class examines the fundamentals of creative writing in form, and aims to develop professional writing practices which can be applied beyond the classroom in other academic and work settings. Forms may include poetry or short fiction via an examination of leading contemporary writers from around the world, a close analysis of texts and an application of genre conventions to the generation of writers’ own work. The emphasis is on the development of a portfolio of examples, a selection of which can be developed via feedback into finished pieces which might be suitable for publication. The reading will culminate in the presentation of a collection of work, and the students’ demonstration of understanding of core concepts. Within the form, a range of conventions will be discussed, including for example in poetry: structure and form, the use of metaphor, the role of the line; or in short fiction, structure, “heart”, narrative and tools of fiction including place, character, dialogue, narrative arc.

From Text to Screen: Adapting Literature for Cinema

Students will be introduced to some of the major frameworks used to analyse film adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays, from textual analysis through to ideological, economic and reception approaches. Through the close examination of a broad range of Shakespeare films, you will learn about the history of film adaptations, about the lives and careers of important artists who have adapted Shakespeare and about the modes of film production, distribution and marketing that influence the greenlighting, financing as well as the critical and audience response to movies based on Shakespeare.

American Literature 1: origins to the Civil War

This module introduces students to the major writers and themes of U.S. literature from the Colonial to the Civil War period. Representative texts and authors will be analysed and discussed to explore the historical, cultural, intellectual and literary contexts in which they occur. A wide variety of texts will be used including historical narratives, journals, autobiography, poetry, short stories and the novel. Literature from the Colonia era, the American Revolutionary era and the American Renaissance is explored with key personalities from each epoch included. Authors who may be discussed include Ann Bradstreet, Benjamin Franklin, Washington Irving, Nathanial Hawthorne, E. A. Poe, Herman Melville and Emily Dickinson.

American Literature 2: from the Civil War to the Present

This module introduces students to the major writers and themes of U.S. literature from the Civil War era until the present. Representative texts and authors will be analysed and discussed to explore the historical, cultural, intellectual and literary contexts in which they occur. A wide variety of texts will be used including historical narratives, journals, autobiography, poetry, short stories and the novel. Literature from the Reconstruction era, the era of Westward expansion and the 20th Century is explored with key personalities from each epoch included. Authors who may be discussed include Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Mark Twain, Henry James, Theodore Dreiser, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, John Steinbeck, James Baldwin.

London’s Literature

In this module students will study a range of texts inspired by the city of London. The literature selected will date from any period between the Renaissance and the present day and may belong to any among a range of literary styles and genres including Citizen Comedy, Augustan Satire, Rogue Literature, the Novel and its subgenres, Urban Gothic, Crime and Espionage Literature, the Urban Essay, the short story, Psycho-geography. Where appropriate the course will incorporate material from other domains such as history, sociology, the History of medicine, and urban theory.

Advanced Creative Writing

In this class, writers will take on the role of professionals, in charge of the development of their own work and able to engage in a deeper way with their chosen genre. Writers choose and present in seminar form a particular author via reading an extended work; they also design and complete a collection of work over the course of the semester, which might be a series of chapters in a novel, a complete novella or the equivalent in non-fiction form.

Literature in Context

In this module students will study a range of literary representations of, and responses to, a single historical phenomenon such as a war (eg the first world war), revolution or similarly transformational episode. The texts chosen will represent a range of authors, socio-political perspectives and literary genres - such as poetry, fiction, non-fiction and drama. Through studying the works we will engage with the beliefs, controversies and artistic insights associated with the episode under discussion. Consideration will be given to the legacies of both the literature and the historical events for the understanding of the present day world. A possible topic is First World War Literature and its core content will comprise Spy and Invasion Novels, War Poetry (of both the Patriotic and Disenchanted schools), Popular Fiction, Propaganda, Modernist Literature and short stories.

Shakespearean Drama 1: Comedy and History

We will study a total of four-six Shakespeare comedies and histories – including at least two plays from each genre ‒ in the light of original and subsequent performance conditions, cultural and historical contexts and the history of critical interpretations. The core reading list will be drawn from within the plays printed as Histories or Comedies in the First Folio (1623) with the possible addition, at the lecturer’s discretion, of Pericles, Prince of Tyre and/or Cymbeline. Where appropriate the plays will be contextualized with reference to other Shakespearean literature including the Sonnets and to the works of other comparable writers, dramatists and thinkers. Consideration will be given both to the literary-dramatic conventions that define the two genres and to the particular meanings and effects that can be discovered within individual plays, scenes and lines. Students will read the texts as printed in William Shakespeare, The RSC Shakespeare, Complete Works, ed. by Jonathan Bate and Eric Rasmussen (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 2007) as well as viewing clips from theatrical and cinematic performances and attending, when possible, a live theatre performance.

Shakespearean Drama 2: Tragedy and Tragi-comedy

We will study a total of four-six Shakespeare tragedies and tragi-comedies – including at least two plays from each genre ‒ in the light of original and subsequent performance conditions, cultural and historical contexts and the history of critical interpretations. The core reading list will be drawn from within the plays printed as Tragedies in the First Folio (1623) with the possible addition, at the lecturer’s discretion, of Measure for Measure, The Winter's Tale, The Tempest and Pericles, Prince of Tyre. Where appropriate the plays will be contextualized with reference to other Shakespearean literature and to the works of other comparable writers, dramatists and thinkers. Consideration will be given both to the literary-dramatic conventions that define the two genres and to the particular meanings and effects that can be discovered within individual plays, scenes and lines. Students will read the texts as printed in William Shakespeare, The RSC Shakespeare, Complete Works, ed. by Jonathan Bate and Eric Rasmussen (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 2007) as well as viewing clips from theatrical and cinematic performances and attending, when possible, a live theatre performance.

 

Major Capstone (Dissertation)

 

The purpose of this module is to bring together the breadth of a Liberal Arts student’s learning and experience to bear on a major project. Starting from the student’s major area of study the project will reach out to incorporate elements from the totality of learning on the programme and the realisation of the breadth that a Liberal Arts graduate has achieved. The Capstone can take the form of a reflective practice-based project or a traditional written dissertation subject to meeting the word-length equivalencies below. The Capstone will run over two semesters and will be supervised by a minimum of one supervisor although two may be allocated depending on the nature of the work.