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Language and Literature - MA

2019

Kent’s new MA in Language and Literature is a unique combination of linguistics and literature that offers a detailed technical insight into literature and fiction.

2019

Overview

The programme provides an interdisciplinary experience, combining theoretical and applied linguistic interests, with particular emphasis  on literary stylistics, alongside literature. The programme draws upon the expertise from staff in the Department of English Language & Linguistics, the Department of Comparative Literature and the School of English at Kent.

In the Autumn and Spring terms students take modules in Research Skills, Meaning, Literary Stylistics, and Literature and Theory. These are supplemented with further modules in either linguistics or literature. Following these taught modules, in the summer students combine principles from both subject areas in their dissertation.

The programme is particularly suited to students with a literary background who wish to engage with the technicalities of literature, or those with a linguistics background who wish to explore the creativity of language. It provides a structural insight into literature with a strong critical foundation.

The programme is ideal for those wishing to work in the media or communications industries. It also offers a smooth transition to doctoral work for those who wish to pursue their studies further.

National ratings

In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, modern languages and linguistics was ranked 3rd for research quality, 3rd for research output and in the top 20 for research intensity, research impact and research power in the UK.

Our submission was the highest ranked nationally to include modern languages – a testament to our position as the UK’s European university. An impressive 100% of our research was judged to be of international quality and the School’s environment was judged to be conducive to supporting the development of world-leading research.

Course structure

The programme is divided into two stages. Stage 1 comprises modules to a total of 120 credits and Stage 2 comprises a 60 credit dissertation module.

Modules

Compulsory modules must be taken by all students studying the programme, including the Research Dissertation (60 credits). You then choose from a list of optional modules which provide a choice of subject areas.

Compulsory modules currently include Credits

This module will introduce students to a wide range of theoretical positions with the aim of enriching their understanding and appreciation of literature and critical practice. We will begin with the thinking of Nietzsche and Freud, before examining that of Saussure, Benjamin, Lévi-Strauss, Genette, Foucault, Lacan, Derrida, Deleuze and Guattari, Kristeva, Cixous, and Irigaray. As well as encouraging a critical engagement with the claims of the theories themselves the module will examine a number of representative theoretical readings of literary works. Students will learn to evaluate these various thinkers and use their ideas, as appropriate, in their own writing.

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30

The module proceeds from the assumption that linguistics and literary study should not be separated, and it aims to provide students with the kinds of advanced theoretical knowledge needed to become creative-thinking and, crucially, interdisciplinary experts in literary linguistics. The course provides an innovative integration of English language into literary studies, and covers a wide range of material, combining theoretical and ideological dimensions with practical applications, including, but not limited to, text-world theory, cognitive poetics, narratology and dialect in literature. It aims to be rigorous and principled, in line with other disciplines that come under the umbrella of language and linguistics study, while offering an approach to literary language study that is fundamentally humanistic in orientation. The module explores the languages of literary texts and literary reading, from the most focused study of the texture of language right up to the ideological and cultural practices of world literatures.

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15
Optional modules may include Credits

This module will introduce students to the study of semantic meaning. The focus will be on developing a fluency with analytical tools in semantics and pragmatics, and using these to explain a range of phenomena. Topics covered will include truth-conditional semantics, reference, presupposition, conversational implicature, and Speech Act Theory. Students will have the opportunity to reflect upon real data and analyse the processes of conveying and understanding meaning.

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15

This course constitutes an in-depth introduction to syntax, focusing specifically on the question of what constitutes knowledge of language. By examining a core area of linguistic investigation (syntax), students will have the opportunity to explore the form and structure of the various kinds of linguistic knowledge speakers possess. The investigation will proceed from a theoretical as well as a descriptive perspective, and students will be encouraged to evaluate theoretical claims in the light of observations drawn from a wide range of languages. As such, the module will equip students with the theoretical and methodological tools required in the specialised modules and will highlight the crucial role of description in supporting and testing theoretical claims.

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15

The module will begin with an examination of Labov, Weinreich and Herzog’s early ‘manifesto’ for sociologically informed linguistics, and the reasons for dissatisfaction with structuralist and generative models in the 1960s/early 1970’s. It will then review classic urban sociolinguistic work as exemplified by Labov (New York), Trudgill (Norwich), and the Milroys (Belfast), before exploring in turn the assumptions underpinning sociolinguistic methodology and some of its key findings (for example, the sociolinguistic gender pattern). The claims of sociolinguists regarding language change will then be considered, and some putative sociolinguistic universals, i.e. general claims about language in society which are presumed to be universally applicable, tested. The module will conclude with consideration of the relationship between social and linguistic structure, and examine some recent work in the field, which challenges the general linguistic tenet that all languages are equally complex.

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15

This module investigates modernism as a cross-cultural and interdisciplinary phenomenon via close readings of a selection of literary and essayistic texts written in the early decades of the 20th century by a range of key European authors. After an exploration of the socio-cultural and historical contexts from which these texts emerge, we study the specificities of modernist literature by paying close attention to the formal and stylistic innovations which accompany typically modernist thematic preoccupations, such as deviant sexuality, the workings of the unconscious, self-reflexive thematizations of the specificities of the medium, new technological developments, the city, time, decay and a sense of metaphysical despair. Stylistic techniques such as multi-perspectivity, free indirect discourse, stream-of-consciousness, montage and fragmentation are explored not just as tools for rendering a dramatically altered conception of experience, but as formal expressions of the plight of the peripatetic modernist subject in their own right.

The course will be taught in English. Relevant texts may be studied in English translation, but students with proficiency in European languages are encouraged to read texts in the original language.

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30

This module is designed to introduce students to major literary works (in various genres) from the early nineteenth century to the present day that explore the theme of madness, with a particular focus on the function of madness as a metaphor. The module will encourage students to consider the historical contexts out of which the various texts emerge, and to analyse the ways in which modern European literature takes up the theme of madness to explore social, psychological, philosophical, religious, and aesthetic questions. Particular attention will be paid to the close analysis of literary style in order to assess each writer's attempt to capture the discourse of madness. Topics for consideration will include the relation between artistic creativity and madness, madness as a form of socio-political resistance, madness and gender, the figure of the 'double', and, above all, the extent to which Michel Foucault is justified in claiming in 'The History of Madness' that in the post-Enlightenment period 'unreason has belonged to whatever is decisive, for the modern world, in any work of art'.

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30

We live, it is often said, in the 'age of affect'. Paradoxically, since Fredric Jameson's dictum on 'the waning of affect' in postmodern times, there has been a burgeoning surge of interest in our affects and emotions that has touched most academic disciplines as well as the general public. But a look at the historiography of affect shows that the current interest in our feelings and their cultural transformations, and with it the transformations of their often restrictive codes of representation, has been ongoing since the age of Romanticism at least. When we now speak of the 'emotional turn’, we tend to forget that in 1882 the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche already complained about the absence of ‘a history of love, of avarice, of envy, of conscience, of piety, or of cruelty’; that in 1941 the French historian Lucien Febvre contemplated the relation between ‘sensibility and history’; and that in the 1980s the American Historian Peter Gay flirted, at least temporarily, with a concept he defined as ‘psycho-history’.

The aim of this module is to reflect on this longstanding debate by addressing the following questions: What is an emotion, and what is an affect? Do emotions and affects change over time in intensity, prevalence, and character, or do they essentially remain the same while it is our attitudes towards them that change? And, most importantly to us as students of comparative literature: where or what is the subject who feels, and how can we define the relation between his or her feelings and the manifold ways in which they are represented? Our discussion will be based on critical analysis of a range of literary and autobiographical works from the eighteenth century to the present (for example by: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Emily Brontë, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Marguerite Duras, C.S. Lewis, and Roland Barthes). These works will be discussed in close conjunction with a selection of classic and contemporary theoretical texts (for example by: Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Arthur Schopenhauer, Ruth Leys, Helmuth Lethen, Martha Nussbaum, Amy Coplan, and Eugenie Brinkema). The module is structured according to the following three areas of inquiry: Love & Desire; Loss & Mourning; Guilt & Shame.

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30

'Reading the Contemporary' is a cross-disciplinary module the aim of which is to find out what it means to read the contemporary period through its aesthetic practices. The module will be co-taught by staff from the School of English, the School of Arts and the Institute of Contemporary Arts, with seminars alternating between the Canterbury campus and the ICA (London).

The module has three main objectives. First, it will consider what it means, in a theoretical sense, to think about our contemporary moment. Second, it will address key themes and issues in contemporary culture and will consider how they bear on and are shaped by recent aesthetic forms. Third, through the seminars delivered at the ICA, which will arise directly out of the ICA's programme, students will be introduced to examples of current aesthetic practice.

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30

This module introduces you to a wide range of colonial and postcolonial theoretical discourses. It focuses on the construction of the historical narrative of imperialism, psychology and culture of colonialism, nationalism and liberation struggles, and postcolonial theories of complicity and resistance. The module explores the benefits and problems derived from reading literature and culture by means of a postcolonial and postimperial lens. Through the study of crucial texts and events, both historical and current, the module analyses the birth of imperialist narratives and their complex consequences for the world today.

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30

This module introduces the challenges and pleasures of postmodern poetry and poetics. We will consider a range of poetic texts, and essays on poetry, that between them raise profound questions of nation, agency, language, politics and gender in the post-war period. Starting with Charles Olson's ground-breaking inquiries into 'open field poetics’, we will investigate a range of American and British poets for whom the poem has been a way of generating new modes of thought and life. In particular we will explore the ways in which poetry of the period enables us to think through the implications of globalisation. We will consider how poetry can escape the constraints of place, and how it can imagine new forms of collective identity.

Among the poets we will consider are: Charles Olson, Robert Duncan, Frank O’Hara, Denise Riley, Lyn Hejinian, J. H. Prynne, and Tony Lopez. The work of these writers will be read alongside contemporary philosophy and political theory, and will be considered in relation to other art forms, especially painting. Students on the module will benefit from the activities of the Centre for Modern Poetry, including regular readings, research seminars and the reading groups.

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30

On this module we conduct a broad survey of modern literary and critical theory, but in a revisionist spirit, asking what were the moments that generated certain critical turns, and examining the broad historical impetus of change, such as the Russian Revolution, the Cold War, and the revolts of 1968. In the first part of the module we look at developments in the early twentieth century which gave shape to modern literary studies; in the second part of the module we look at developments from the second half of the century to the present day. As well as reading the texts of theory, we aim to understand its historical and institutional contexts, and our overall objective is to understand and analyse some of the recent turns in critical discourse, such as transnationalism, and the turn away from theory to the archive.

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30
Compulsory modules currently include Credits

The aim of the dissertation is to develop further the students’ ability independently to plan, research, formulate arguments and communicate research findings in a coherent manner within an extended piece of written work. The dissertation functions both as the culmination of the year’s work and as a bridge between guided and independent research, preparing (and, it is hoped, encouraging) students to continue on to carry out research at Doctoral level.

The topic of the dissertation will usually be based on, and develop from, work undertaken on one or more of the taught modules undertaken in the course of the MA.

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60

Teaching and Assessment

Assessment consists of a combination of written coursework, practical/experimental work (where appropriate) and seminar presentations.

On successful completion of the taught modules, students write a research dissertation (included in their final grade) on a topic agreed with their supervisor.

Careers

Postgraduate work in English Language and Linguistics prepares you for a range of careers where an in-depth understanding of how language functions is essential. These include speech and language theory, audiology, teaching, publishing, advertising, journalism, public relations, company training, broadcasting, forensic and computational work, and the civil or diplomatic services.

Study support

About the Department of English Language and Linguistics

English Language and Linguistics (ELL), founded in 2010, is the newest department of the School of European Culture and Languages (SECL). ELL is a dynamic and growing department with a vibrant research culture. We specialise in experimental and theoretical linguistics. In particular, our interests focus on quantitative and experimental research in speech and language processing, variation and acquisition, but also cover formal areas such as syntax, as well as literary stylistics. In addition to English and its varieties, our staff work in French, German, Greek, Romani, Korean, Spanish and Russian.

Staff and postgraduates are members of the Centre for Language and Linguistics (CLL), a research centre that seeks to promote interdisciplinary linguistic research. We also have links with research networks outside Kent, and are involved with national and international academic associations including the Linguistics Association of Great Britain, the British Association of Academic Phoneticians, the Linguistic Society of America, the Association for French Language Studies and the Poetics and Linguistics Association.

We welcome applications from students interested in MA and PhD research. Please see our staff and research pages for more information on the topics staff are able to supervise.

Postgraduate resources

Our students benefit from training by enthusiastic and dedicated staff with expertise in a variety of areas of linguistics, from formal to quantitative and experimental fields.

ELL students also benefit from excellent library facilities and a linguistics laboratory equipped for research in speech acoustics (recording equipment, studio, software for speech analysis), speech and language processing and acquisition (including eye-tracking, DMDX and E-prime), and general data analysis (MS Office Suite, Statistica, R, and Matlab running on both PCs and Macs).

The Department organises seminars with local and invited speakers that take place throughout the year. Additionally the Centre for Language and Linguistics also organises various events from talks to symposia. In addition, postgraduates can attend any one of three reading groups: the Experimental Reading Group; the Stylistics Reading Group; and the Syntax Reading Group. These groups provide a space where staff, final-year undergraduates and postgraduate students have the opportunity to exchange ideas and learn more about current research issues in their area of interest. All three groups meet regularly to discuss recent research papers as well as draft research papers written by individual members of each group.

Although ELL is a new department, the study of linguistics has a long tradition at Kent and the Templeman Library is well stocked in all areas, particularly those in which we specialise, including sociolinguistics, phonetics, acquisition, language processing, language teaching and stylistics.

The School also provides high-quality IT facilities, including state-of-the-art media laboratories, dedicated technical staff and designated areas for postgraduate study. Other facilities include all-purpose teaching rooms, two networked multimedia laboratories equipped for teaching in phonetics and psycholinguistics and a streamed film library. Experienced technicians can provide support with computing, sound recording and digital media.

Training

In addition to one-to-one meetings with their supervisor, our research students benefit from many additional events that are either specifically designed for them or provide them with opportunities to liaise with all staff.

These events include:

  • an ELL-specific induction day for all postgraduates
  • the chance to act as peer-mentors for MA students
  • presentation of their research at LingLunch and our annual Research Day
  • participation in training seminars covering statistics, the peer-review system, experimental techniques in linguistics
  • reading groups, of which three are currently meeting on a regular basis: the Experimental Linguistics Reading Group, the Syntax Reading Group and the Stylistics Reading Group.

For those who wish to gain in-depth understanding of syntax, semantics and phonology additional training is provided through the Advanced Core Training in Linguistics (ACTL) of which Kent is a member along with Cambridge, Essex, Oxford, Queen Mary, University of London, SOAS and UCL. ACTL classes are offered in the autumn and summer and are open to all postgraduates.

Global Skills Award

All students registered for a taught Master's programme are eligible to apply for a place on our Global Skills Award Programme. The programme is designed to broaden your understanding of global issues and current affairs as well as to develop personal skills which will enhance your employability.  

Entry requirements

A first or upper-second class honours degree in a relevant subject or equivalent.

International applicants for whom English is not their first language must have IELTS overall 7.0 with at least 6.0 for each component.

All applicants are considered on an individual basis and additional qualifications, professional qualifications and experience will also be taken into account. 

International students

Please see our International Student website for entry requirements by country and other relevant information for your country.  Please note that international fee-paying students cannot undertake a part-time programme due to visa restrictions.

English language entry requirements

The University requires all non-native speakers of English to reach a minimum standard of proficiency in written and spoken English before beginning a postgraduate degree. Certain subjects require a higher level.

For detailed information see our English language requirements web pages. 

Need help with English?

Please note that if you are required to meet an English language condition, we offer a number of pre-sessional courses in English for Academic Purposes through Kent International Pathways.

Research areas

Alongside our research centre below, we also have links with research networks outside Kent, and are involved with national and international academic associations including the Linguistics Association of Great Britain, the British Association of Academic Phoneticians, the Linguistic Society of America, the Association for French Language Studies and the Poetics and Linguistics Association.

Linguistics Lab

The newly established Linguistics Lab is currently housed in Rutherford College and has facilities for research in acoustics, sociophonetics and speech and language processing. English Language and Linguistics (ELL) members also have access to the School of European Culture and Language (SECL) recording studio and multimedia labs which can be used both for research and teaching.

Centre for Language and Linguistics

English Language and Linguistics is the main contributor to the Centre for Language and Linguistics. Founded in 2007, the Centre promotes interdisciplinary collaboration in linguistic research and teaching. Membership embraces not just the members of English Language and Linguistics but also other SECL members with an interest in the study of language, as well as researchers in philosophy, computing, psychology and anthropology, reflecting the many and varied routes by which individuals come to a love of language and an interest in the various disciplines and subdisciplines of linguistics.

Staff research interests

Full details of staff research interests can be found on the School's website.

Professor Amalia Arvaniti: Professor of Linguistics

Phonetics, phonology, sociophonetics; the production and perception of prosody, cross-linguistic intonational pragmatics, sociophonetics, Greek linguistics, English linguistics and dialectology, bilingualism.

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Dr Laura Bailey: Lecturer in Linguistics

Theoretical syntax and typology, with a focus on polar interrogatives

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Dr Gloria Chamorro: Lecturer in Applied linguistics

Second language acquisition, bilingualism, first language attrition, TESOL.

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Dr Vikki Janke: Lecturer in Linguistics

Syntax, language acquisition and psycholinguistics.

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Dr Eleni Kapogianni: Lecturer in Linguistics

Semantics/pragmatics interface, experimental pragmatics, and intercultural pragmatics.

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Dr Christina Kim: Lecturer in Linguistics

Experimental pragmatics/semantics/syntax, psycholinguistics, syntax/pragmatics interface.

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Dr Tamara Rathcke: Lecturer in Linguistics

Tone and rhythm in music and language, variation and change of prosody, comparative phonetics and phonology.

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Dr Jeremy Scott: Senior Lecturer in English Language and Liteature

Literary representations of dialect, stylistics, narratology and creative writing. 

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Dr David Hornsby: Senior Lecturer in French and Linguistics

The history of the French language; sociolinguistics of French; sociolinguistic theory.

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Dr Angelos Lengeris: Lecturer in Linguistics

Phonetics, phonology, the practice of TESOL.

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Fees

The 2019/20 annual tuition fees for this programme are:

Language and Literature - MA at Canterbury:
UK/EU Overseas
Full-time £7500 £15700
Part-time £3750 £7850

For students continuing on this programme fees will increase year on year by no more than RPI + 3% in each academic year of study except where regulated.* If you are uncertain about your fee status please contact information@kent.ac.uk

General additional costs

Find out more about general additional costs that you may pay when studying at Kent. 

Funding

Search our scholarships finder for possible funding opportunities. You may find it helpful to look at both: