Students preparing for their graduation ceremony at Canterbury Cathedral

Eighteenth-Century Studies - MA

2018

The Eighteenth-Century Studies MA offers an intellectually dynamic introduction to one of the most exciting eras in literary history.

2018

Overview

Grounded in and administered from the Centre for Studies in the Long Eighteenth Century, this is an interdisciplinary MA programme that builds upon the expertise and common research interests of 18th-century researchers and teachers across the Faculty of Humanities. The Centre provides an excellent research context for the MA programme and any further postgraduate work that will arise from it.

Among the teachers involved in this MA are Professor Jennie Batchelor, Dr Jenny DiPlacidi, Dr Declan Gilmore-Kavanagh, Professor Donna Landry and Dr Robbie Richardson (English); Dr James Fowler (French); Dr Ben Thomas (History and Philosophy of Art); Dr William Pettigrew and Professor Charlotte Sleigh (History).

About the School of English

The School of English has a strong international reputation and global perspective, apparent both in the background of its staff and in the diversity of our teaching and research interests.

Our expertise ranges from the medieval to the postmodern, including British, American and Irish literature, postcolonial writing, 18th-century studies, Shakespeare, early modern literature and culture, Victorian studies, modern poetry, critical theory and cultural history. The international standing of the School ensures that we have a lively, confident research culture, sustained by a vibrant, ambitious intellectual community. We also count a number of distinguished creative writers among our staff, and we actively explore crossovers between critical and creative writing in all our areas of teaching and research.

The Research Excellence Framework 2014 has produced very strong results for the School of English at Kent. With 74% of our work graded as world-leading or internationally excellent, the School is ranked 10th out of 89 English departments in terms of Research Intensity (Times Higher Education). The School also received an outstanding assessment of the quality of its research environment and public impact work.

National ratings

School of English

In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, research by the School of English was ranked 10th for research intensity and 15th for research power in the UK.

An impressive 100% of our research-active staff submitted to the REF and 95% of our research was judged to be of international quality. The School’s environment was judged to be conducive to supporting the development of world-leading research.

School of European Culture and Language

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

You take two modules in the autumn term and two in the spring term; two core modules and two optional modules. You are also expected to attend the Faculty and School Research Methods Programmes.

You then write a dissertation or an editorial project between the start of the Summer Term and the end of August.

Modules

The following modules are indicative of those offered on this programme. This list is based on the current curriculum and may change year to year in response to new curriculum developments and innovation.  Most programmes will require you to study a combination of compulsory and optional modules. You may also have the option to take modules from other programmes so that you may customise your programme and explore other subject areas that interest you.

Modules may include Credits

This module explores the construction and contestation of authorship between the publication of Alexander Pope's brilliant Grub Street satire, The Dunciad (1728) and of James Boswell’s Life of Johnson (1791). In this period, notions of authorship underwent significant change as the image of the author as craftsman (or less flatteringly as tradesman) gave way to the image of the author as original creator or genius – an image that still informs our understanding of authorship to this day. Through an exploration of a wide variety of novels, satires, periodicals, and biographies, as well as visual images we will explore how the modern author’s fortunes were shaped by such factors as the decline of the patronage system, the growth and democratisation of the literary marketplace, the emergence of the woman writer and the labouring-class or unlettered genius.

Topics for discussion will include the myth and reality of Grub-Street; the gendering of authorship; the relationship between authorship and nation; the economics of authorship; the birth of the literary critic; canon-formation; literary celebrity and scandal.

Read more
30

This module investigates Britons’ complex aspirations during the age of Enlightenment: wealth and politeness, adventure and the cult of sensibility, collecting rare commodities, seeking ‘extreme experiences’, discoursing on sympathy while owning slaves. What was the British empire that necessitated anti-colonial resistance? How did a backward island nation become an imperial power? We will explore fiction, travel writing, political theory and philosophy. Novels, Oriental fantasy, explorations of the Ottoman empire, Continental Europe, and the South Seas, and Black Atlantic writing (by slaves and freed people) will be featured. How did new styles of masculinity and femininity and new ideas about gender and sexuality emerge by means of urbanisation, global exploration, and mercantile capital? We will also reflect upon methods of historical recovery and approaches to texts of the past. The eighteenth century was a period of dynamic change and radical social upheaval that has left us with various legacies whose effects are still being felt today.

Read more
30

The main focus of this module is for you to work independently with supervision to write 7000 words of original fiction or an equivalent number of poems.

Having a clear idea of what you will produce would help you greatly. You will be expected to have a synopsis of about 300 words, plus at least a 1000 words (or two poems) ready for the second week. After some initial work in a group, you will continue developing your piece separately, working one-to-one with the tutor. Towards the end of term, the group sessions will continue.

On the MA, we encourage you to think of your year's writing as one piece of work (one novel, collection of short stories, collection of poems) and so it is perfectly acceptable for you to use this module to develop this project, perhaps working on chapters 3 and 4 of a novel you have begun in another module, or writing poems from the middle or end of your collection.

Read more
30

This course investigates the development of American modernism in art and literature in the fifty year period between 1890 and 1940; a time bookended by official closing of the American frontier (which effectively concluded the period of the nineteenth century associated with "manifest destiny") and the outbreak of World War Two. The course will explore key texts of the period within their artistic and social contexts, including the development of new scientific and social-scientific modes of inquiry, the growth of the city and the increasing importance of the USA on the world stage.

The course is organized into blocks comprised of texts associated with various cities and movements within American modernism. We will begin by looking at the importance of New York and the American expatriate scene, before considering modernism in the mid-West and US South. A reading pack will be provided in the first week as an aid to student research.

Students will be expected to develop their own research interests within the topic and will be assessed by a 5,000 word essay. Essays that investigate topics not directly covered by the set reading are encouraged and can be developed in consultation with the tutor.

Read more
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.

Read more
30

This module is an introduction to writing fiction at a postgraduate level. The course content will vary depending on your tutor. You will have a weekly seminar in which you will discuss recently published novels and short fiction (alongside some modern classics) as well as techniques for writing your own fiction. You will also have the opportunity to present and work on your writing in class. You will hand in 7000 words of original fiction at the end of the module. This can be the beginning of a novel, or one or more short stories.

Read more
30

This module will prepare you for the production of your dissertation portfolio of fully realised, finished poems. You will read a wide range of exemplary, contemporary work and experiment with form and content. A portfolio for the module of 12 – 15 poems is submitted.

Read more
30

In this module you will learn further techniques of writing fiction, including how to plot a full-length novel, work on deep characterisation and the construction of an intellectual framework within your fiction. You may be continuing to work on a project begun in Fiction 1, or starting something new. Rather than expecting you to try new techniques, voices and styles, your tutor will work with you to identify your strongest mode of writing and will encourage you to develop this.

Your tutor will supply you with a reading list before the start of the module.

Read more
30

The main focus of Poetry 2 is to further develop and refine your writing with the eventual aim of producing a successful dissertation portfolio of fully realised, finished poems. Poetry 2 differs from Poetry 1 in that you are encouraged to develop a sequence or series of wholly new poems.

In this module you will develop your practice of writing poetry through both the study of a range of contemporary examples and constructive feedback on your own work. Each week, you will be exposed to a wide range of exemplary, contemporary sequences. The approach to the exemplary texts will be technical rather than historical; at every point priority is given to your own particular development as poets.

The reading list does not represent a curriculum as such, but indicates the range of works and traditions we will draw upon to stimulate new thought about your own work. Decisions about reading will be taken in response to individual interests. Likewise, you will be directed toward work which will be of particular benefit to you.

The main focus of Poetry 2 is to further develop and refine your writing with the eventual aim of producing a successful dissertation portfolio of fully realised, finished poems. Poetry 2 differs from Poetry 1 in that you are encouraged to develop a sequence or series of wholly new poems.

In this module you will develop your practice of writing poetry through both the study of a range of contemporary examples and constructive feedback on your own work. Each week, you will be exposed to a wide range of exemplary, contemporary sequences. The approach to the exemplary texts will be technical rather than historical; at every point priority is given to your own particular development as poets.

The reading list does not represent a curriculum as such, but indicates the range of works and traditions we will draw upon to stimulate new thought about your own work. Decisions about reading will be taken in response to individual interests. Likewise, you will be directed toward work which will be of particular benefit to you.

Read more
30

Austen makes a particularly interesting subject for advanced study because her work is both widely enjoyed and the focus of much specialist academic work. The Austen of the (feminist) academy is often initially unrecognisable to the general (´feminine´) reader, and part of the project of this module is to explore the gap between these kinds of reading through the medium of material culture. ´Material Culture Studies´, focussing on the function and significance of physical objects in literary texts, has been increasingly important to scholars of the long eighteenth century in the last decade, and this approach raises questions that are especially pertinent to readings of Austen´s fiction. Is domesticity a trap or a refuge? Does the female body require liberation or control? Is material wealth the realisation of every woman´s dream or the basis of moral corruption? Is the 'improvement' of landscapes and estates a sign of culture or of arrogance? Approaching Austen´s writing through the objects which populate her fiction, we will situate these questions in relation to modern literary criticism and the unfamiliarity of early nineteenth-century artefacts.

Read more
30

This module is designed to extend and develop skill, enjoyment and confidence in reading critical, literary and theoretical texts. We reflect on the pleasures and challenges of the reading process, moving slowly through a single major text. We will pause over exciting, complex or important passages, taking time to follow up references and footnotes, identify important themes and ideas, consult works of art and writings that share those themes, explore how the texts touch us and how they think. The module is designed to help you come away with an in-depth knowledge of the main text and of texts and ideas surrounding it, as well as gaining deeper understanding of how you read.

Our ten weekly seminars will usually function as a two-hour guided reading-group. Seminars will incorporate student presentations introducing a particular passage, focusing on issues raised by the text or on relations between these issues, the text and other module reading. Total study hours: 20 per week. Students will be assessed on a piece of written work of 5,000 words presented at the conclusion of the module on a topic agreed with the teacher.

In 2016-17 the central text is Philippines by Hélène Cixous.

Philippines was published in 2009 and Laurent Milesi's English translation came out in 2010. It concerns telepathy, and we will be looking at texts on telepathy by Freud, Derrida and Nicholas Royle, as well as George Du Maurier's very popular novel Peter Ibbetson (1891), and the film version of Peter Ibbetson from 1935 starring Gary Cooper and mentioned in Cixous' book. We will also think about love, dreaming, literature and childhood as they emerge out of these texts.

Read more
30

This module explores representations of illness and disability in American literature and culture from the nineteenth century to the present, with a particular focus on the cultural and political work of contemporary illness narratives.

The course follows a thematic rather than chronological framework and is divided into three sections. The first section has a more historical flavour and is concerned with the disabled and modified body in American culture. It starts with the history of the nineteenth-century freak show, and its consideration by disability scholars in week 1, turns to prosthetics in post-war and contemporary American culture in week 2, and concludes with a memoir focusing on disability activism during the American counterculture of the 60s and 70s in week 3. The second section, "Illness as many narratives", explores a range of illness narratives and representations of disabled bodies across media. It begins with a theoretical work, Sontag's study on illness as metaphor (week 3), and proceeds to investigate illness as metaphor and the politics of illness using as case studies cancer and AIDS narratives from the twentieth century, including a consideration of drama, photography and multimedia narrative experiments. In week 7, we turn to fiction and read DeLillo's novel White Noise alongside questions of statistical panic and fears of illness and death in postmodern American culture. Weeks 8 and 9 continue the exploration of illness in life writing (especially within the memoir as a genre) looking at the medicalisation of emotions (in particular during adolescence) and the emergence of "new" diseases such as Alzheimer's. These two weeks raise questions about the relationship of mental and cognitive illness to age. The final section of the module entitled "The Art of Medicine" turns to the depiction of doctors and their patients’ conditions in American fiction, memoir and poetry written by doctors, as well as in popular culture. Particular attention is given here, through the autobiographical accounts of a Cuban American doctor and a Navajo female surgeon, to the importance of adopting cross-cultural perspectives on health/illness, and within medical practice, and to the rise of medical humanities as an academic field. A brief lecture will introduce each of the sections to provide theoretical underpinning

Read more
30

This module will chart the emergence of ideas associated with sustainability, ecology and conservation in the Victorian period through examining prose writings on the relationship between culture and environment. While earlier work in ecocriticism tended to focus on poetry (especially of the Romantic period), scholars have more recently begun to argue that the novel may be the literary form best suited to explore environmental and ecological issues due to its emphasis on character, place, and narrative duration.

This module will therefore examine Victorian novels in which human interaction with – and connection to – the environment is a central concern and will then contrast these novelistic depictions with essays which advocated a diverse range of environmental or ecological causes in the nineteenth century (urban regeneration and cultural heritage, nature conservation and animal rights, self-sufficiency and alternative communities).

Informed by current scholarship in ecocriticism and sustainability studies, this module will consider how class, gender and sexuality influenced the articulation of critical responses to Victorian modernity and generated new ideas concerning culture and nature, human and animal, environment and economy, urban and rural, community and technology.

Read more
30

This module will look at eighteenth-century British representations of North American Indigenous people and consider the cultural functions of these representations, their origins, and their effects on British identity.

Students will be asked to look at British texts beginning with samples of early voyage narratives up to the Romantic period and consider the changing purpose of the figure known as the "Indian." In addition to conventional literary texts, this module will also incorporate museum catalogues, collected objects, and philosophical writing from the period.

The module will look at the interest in primitivism alongside narratives of progress and Enlightenment, as well as the new anxieties surrounding developments such as consumerism and empire, and assess the unique role played by Indians.

Read more
30

Students will read and respond to a selection of biographies and autobiographies in various literary forms—along with the core reading list, a module reader will contain extracts of examples of: the life, memoir, journal, chronicle, essay, testimony, case study, confession; even the Japanese 'I-novel' and participatory journalism will be considered—to inform the planning of and working on their own piece of biographical or autobiographical ‘life’ writing. Students will investigate the intersections between fiction and non-fiction (and poetry), deploying a range of literary techniques. The module will be structured thematically, working with different forms and sub-genres in turn, allowing the students to experiment with various approaches. During the first half (six sessions), specific works will be discussed (and appropriate writing exercises applied), three sessions will be filled with workshops, and one session will be spent brainstorming ideas and planning.

Read more
30

This course investigates what has come to be known as the affective turn in literary criticism. This turn, acting as a response to linguistic criticisms popularized during the moment of high postmodernism in the 1970s-1980s, seeks non-linguistic, or pre-linguistic ways of understanding the world. Under this new critical regime, feelings, mood, forces, and emotions become ways of tracking, describing, and engaging with the contemporary. In both the literature and the theory, students will be tasked with investigating representations of subjectivity in the present. The contemporary sees an enmeshing of theoretical and literary texts where both become crucial tools of critical inquiry. Thus, the literary texts in the module will reflect the theoretical concerns of the theoretical texts, and vice versa.

Students will examine a range of contemporary American fiction and poetry that investigate representations of feelings, emotions, and mood. In this way the module will focus on the place of humans within a larger ecological structure, and through working with the literary and theoretical texts students will ex-amine the construction of boundaries between humans and their surroundings. Some broad questions the module seeks to explore: What is the relationship between the individual, the public, and literature? What can the study of affect add to literary criticism? Finally, are there particular aesthetic techniques that capture something as ephemeral as a mood, or a feeling?

Read more
30

This module explores the Victorians' fascination with the body and its metaphors. Using the works of Dickens as its principal lens, the module will explore notions of disease, infection, health and illness in the national body, the social body and the biological body. Engaging with debates on laissez-faire economics, prostitution, nationalism, and anxieties concerning sexual and fiscal production, this module will explore how authors, thinkers and artists of the nineteenth century worked through ideas about the body in Victorian culture.

Read more
30

This module helps you to situate and heighten awareness of your own work in relation to your own practice and to practitioners from other languages. You are not expected to know any other language! Instead, you will use cribs, literal translations, commentaries and transliterations, among other tools, to inspire and guide you in creating your own versions, as is common practice amongst translators. Seminars will focus on your work in creating new poems in English, using contemporary or classic poetry in a language of your choice. The work will be contextualised through the study of translation theories and practices. Your final project will be 5-7 finished versions of poems by a single author, along with a commentary outlining your approach.

Read more
30

This module will give students the opportunity to explore and create writing about travel and nature, and (re)construct complex landscapes in prose. After beginning with formulations of ‘home’, whether this be a house, a city, a prison, a lighthouse or anything else, students will be encouraged to begin to travel, both literally and conceptually, first into gardens, then into the countryside and then the ‘wild’ before attempting to write about the suburb, the city, the sea, foreign lands and the unknown. Emphasis will be on contemporary approaches to narrative non-fiction, where buildings, shops and other elements of material culture must often be considered as part of ‘the environment’, and where almost every journey can become a psychogeographical adventure. Landscapes can be beautiful, but they are also always sites of nature-culture encounters, which are themselves always political. How does one begin to address this in prose? What happens when landscapes, buildings and other environmental sites become the foreground in narrative, rather than the background?

Students will be encouraged to experiment with different techniques of narrative non-fiction, for example putting themselves at the centre of their narrative, or at its periphery; recording conversations and working with complex themes. They will learn about techniques of reportage, psychogeography, travel writing and nature-writing. Additional workshops will give students the tools they need to independently learn about relevant techniques needed to understand their landscapes fully, for example basic botany, architecture, geography and local history. Each week students will produce a 500-word informal assignment, which they will share on Moodle. Students will eventually choose one location, environment or encounter to write about and by the end of the module they will produce a 4000-word piece of narrative non-fiction exploring this. They will be encouraged to examine their location thoroughly, both in person and through archival and other forms of research. As well as this, they will hand in eight 500-word descriptions of other locations, which may or may not be related to the main location (they could form the journey, for example).

There may well be spontaneous or planned field trips!

Structure of the Module

Week 1: Homes

Week 2: Gardens

Week 3: The countryside/agriculture

Week 4: The concept of the near ‘wild’

Week 5: The train

Week 6: READING WEEK

Week 7: The suburbs

Week 8: The city

Week 9: The seaside and beyond

Week 10: Foreign lands

Week 11: The unknown

Read more
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.

Read more
30

Challenging the common centre-margin paradigm at the heart of postcolonial discourse, this broad-ranging and comparative module traces interconnections between modernist and postcolonial ‘literature of the quest’ from different cultural locations and conjunctions. Just as the knights of the Fisher King legend set out to find the Holy Grail, both the modern and postcolonial self embark on individual odysseys in quest for origin, identity and language. Whilst the modernists’ experimentation with form evidences the ‘sickness’ of modernity, postcolonial quest literature offers a reaction to a national schizophrenia: quest for self echoes a quest for a country, a language and a history. Conrad’s Heart of Darkness (1902), an early example of how the imperialist divide and centre-margin dialectic are handled, will mark the beginning of our exploration of modernist grail quests for an effective medium of communication, existentialist quests in a modern world in crisis, experimental quests into the unknown and poetic quests crossing thresholds of meaning. Primary texts will be read alongside recent critical work from a variety of mythological, philosophical, anthropological and theoretical perspectives.

Read more
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.

Read more
30

The aim of the module is to read selected prose writing in English, which appeared during the period of high imperialism and into the mid-century (approximately 1880s-1940s) and to trace the evolution of particular writings of empire. This will involve a comparative study of writing from different locations of empire. The module will explore representations of relations between the coloniser and the colonised in selected literary texts, and will contextualise the historical and cultural contexts of their production. The texts will be studied as texts in themselves but also as expressions of a particular vision of European self-representation and its conception of the challenge of the colonised.

Read more
30

This module explores the emergence of 'sexual normalcy' in the literature of the Enlightenment period in Britain by focusing on the phobic constitution of the sodomite in literary and legal texts. Beginning with accounts of late seventeenth-century sodomy trials and moving on to Edmund Burke's impassioned speech to the House of Commons (12th April 1780) on the fatal pillorying of two sodomites, this module critiques the ways in which authors and political commentators deployed the sodomite – both male and female – as a condensed symbol for a number of cultural and political transgressions. Participants will examine how anxieties about the sodomite informed the construction of heteronormativity in this period, while also considering the implications that this has for sexual and gender identities today.

Read more
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 groundbreaking 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 globalization. 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.

Read more
30

Writing a Masters dissertation provides the opportunity for you to explore a topic of interest at greater length and in more depth than any academic assignment you will have undertaken to date. As such, it can be both an exciting and daunting experience. This module addresses what is involved in writing a dissertation and helps you to plan your research and prepare your dissertation proposal. It also provides a forum to share ideas with other students and to discuss any questions you might have about the process of researching and writing an extended piece of work.

Read more
60

Teaching and Assessment

Assessment is by a 5000 word essay for each module and a 12000 word dissertation.

Programme aims

This programme aims to:

  • extend and deepen through coursework and research your understanding of eighteenth-century literary, visual and material culture and its political and cultural contexts
  • develop your understanding of, and engagement with, the critical and methodological paradigms that inform the field of eighteenth-century studies today
  • develop your independent critical thinking and judgement.
  • introduce you to the research methods that facilitate advanced study in the field
  • provide a basis in knowledge and skills for those intending to teach eighteenth-century studies, especially in higher education
  • provide an interdisciplinary context for the study of eighteenth-century literary, visual and material culture.
  • develop your ability to argue a point of view with clarity and cogency, both orally and in written form
  • provide teaching which is informed by current research and scholarship and which requires you to engage with aspects of work at the frontiers of knowledge
  • develop your research skills to the point where you are ready to undertake a research degree.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

You will gain knowledge and understanding of:

  • primary sources and recent scholarship concerning literary, visual, material, and political culture in the period
  • how the ‘new’ eighteenth century differs from the ‘old’, and how the canon of works to be studied changes and is constructed
  • grasp of intellectual categories and debates relevant to this period (eg Enlightenment, public sphere, global eighteenth century, taste, the polite, the sublime, revolution, sensibility, political economy) within and across disciplinary boundaries
  • theoretical challenges presented by researching a past historical moment, spectre of ‘presentism’ versus more discontinuist approaches
  • archival procedures, available resources, theoretical questions, approaches to popular and public interest in the period.

Intellectual skills

You develop intellectual skills in:

  • the application of the skills needed for academic study and enquiry at graduate level
  • the evaluation of research findings
  • the ability to synthesise information from a range of primary and secondary sources in order to gain a coherent understanding of theory and practice
  • the ability to make discriminations and selections of relevant information from a wide range of sources in a large body of knowledge
  • the ability to think conceptually and to criticise analytically.

Subject-specific skills

You gain subject-specific skills in:

  • advanced skills in the close critical analysis and discussion of eighteenth-century literary, visual and material culture
  • a developed, critical understanding of a variety of scholarly approaches to the study of literature and other cultural forms in this period
  • an ability to articulate knowledge and understanding of various kinds of text and their political, cultural and historical contexts
  • a developed scholarly practice in the presentation of formal written work, of bibliographic and annotational practices, and of structuring and developing an argument over an extended piece of written work.

Transferable skills

You will gain the following transferable skills:

  • developed powers of communication and the capacity to argue a point of view in extended oral and written form, with clarity, organisation, cogency and sophistication
  • the ability to think independently, analytically, critically and self-critically
  • the ability to assimilate and  organise  substantial quantities of complex information of diverse kinds
  • an advanced level of competence in the formulation, planning and execution of extended written projects
  • an advanced level of competence in the formulation, planning and formal oral presentation of research papers
  • the experience of collaborative intellectual work
  • the ability to understand, interrogate and apply a variety of theoretical positions and weigh the importance of alternative perspectives
  • trained research skills, including scholarly information retrieval skills
  • IT skills: word-processing, email communication, the ability to access electronic data and evaluate online resources.

Careers

Many career paths can benefit from the writing and analytical skills that you develop as a postgraduate student in the School of English. Our students have gone on to work in academia, journalism, broadcasting and media, publishing, writing and teaching; as well as more general areas such as banking, marketing analysis and project management.

Study support

Postgraduate resources

The Templeman Library is well stocked with excellent research resources, as are Canterbury Cathedral Archives and Library. There are a number of special collections: the John Crow Collection of Elizabethan and other early printed texts; the Reading/Raynor Collection of theatre history (over 7,000 texts or manuscripts); ECCO (Eighteenth-Century Collections Online); the Melville manuscripts relating to popular culture in the 19th and early 20th centuries; the Pettingell Collection (over 7,500 items) of 19th-century drama; the Eliot Collection; children’s literature; and popular literature. A gift from Mrs Valerie Eliot has increased the Library’s already extensive holdings in modern poetry. The British Library in London is also within easy reach.

Besides the Templeman Library, School resources include photocopying, fax and telephone access, support for attending and organising conferences, and a dedicated postgraduate study space equipped with computer terminals and a printer.

Conferences and seminars

Our research centres organise many international conferences, symposia and workshops. The School also plays a pivotal role in the Kent Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, of which all graduates are associate members. The Institute hosts interdisciplinary conferences, colloquia, and other events, and establishes international links for all Kent graduates through its network with other advanced institutes worldwide.

School of English postgraduate students are encouraged to organise and participate in a conference which takes place in the summer term. This provides students with the invaluable experience of presenting their work to their peers.

The School runs several series of seminars, lectures and readings throughout the academic year. Our weekly research seminars are organised collaboratively by staff and graduates in the School. Speakers range from our own postgraduate students, to members of staff, to distinguished lecturers who are at the forefront of contemporary research nationally and internationally.

The Centre for Creative Writing hosts a very popular and successful weekly reading series; guests have included poets Katherine Pierpoint, Tony Lopez, Christopher Reid and George Szirtes, and novelists Abdulrazak Gurnah, Ali Smith, Marina Warner and Will Self.

The University of Kent is now in partnership with the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA). Benefits from this affiliation include free membership for incoming students; embedded seminar opportunities at the ICA and a small number of internships for our students. The School of English also runs an interdisciplinary MA programme in the Contemporary which offers students an internship at the Institute of Contemporary Arts.

Dynamic publishing culture

Staff publish regularly and widely in journals, conference proceedings and books. They also edit several periodicals including: Angelaki: Journal of the Theoretical Humanities; The Cambridge Bibliography of English Literature: 600-1500; The Dickensian; Literature Compass; Oxford Literary Review; Theatre Notebook and Wasafiri.

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).

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

International students

Please see our International Student website for entry requirements by country and other relevant information for your country. 

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

Research in the School of English comes roughly under the following areas. However, there is often a degree of overlap between groups, and individual staff have interests that range more widely.

Eighteenth Century

The particular interests of the Centre for Studies in the Long Eighteenth Century converge around gender, class, nation, travel and empire, and the relationship between print and material culture. Staff in the Centre pursue cutting-edge approaches to the field and share a commitment to interdisciplinary methodologies.
The Centre regularly hosts visiting speakers as part of the School of English research seminar programme, and hosts day symposia, workshops and international conferences.

Nineteenth Century

The recently established Centre for Victorian Literature and Culture provides a stimulating and distinctive research environment for staff and students through seminars, conferences and collaborative research projects. The MA in Dickens and Victorian Culture is the only MA of its kind in the UK, and both the MA and the Centre places a particular emphasis on Victorian literature and culture associated with Kent and the south-east.

American Literature

Research in north American literature is conducted partly through the Faculty-based Centre for American Studies, which also facilitates co-operation with modern US historians. Staff research interests include 20th-century American literature, especially poetry, Native American writing, modernism, and cultural history.

Creative Writing

The Centre for Creative Writing is the focus for most practice-based research in the School. Staff organise a thriving series of events and run a research seminar for postgraduate students and staff to share ideas about fiction-writing. Established writers regularly come to read and discuss their work.

Medieval and Early Modern

The Faculty-based Canterbury Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies has a distinctive brand of interdisciplinarity, strong links with local archives and archaeological trusts, and provides a vibrant forum for investigating the relationships between literary and non-literary modes of writing in its weekly research seminar.

Modern Poetry

The Centre for Modern Poetry is a leading centre for research and publication in its field, and participates in both critical and creative research. Staff regularly host visiting speakers and writers, participate in national and international research networks, and organise graduate research seminars and public poetry readings.

Postcolonial

Established in 1994, the Centre for Colonial and Postcolonial Research has acquired an international reputation for excellence in research. It has an outstanding track record in publication, organises frequent international conferences, and regularly hosts leading postcolonial writers and critics. It also hosts a visiting writer from India every year in association with the Charles Wallace Trust.

Staff research interests

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

Professor Jennie Batchelor: Professor of Eighteenth-Century Studies

Eighteenth-century literature; gender; women’s writing; fashion; visual and material culture; influence and intertextuality studies and 18th and early 19th-century periodicals and magazines.

View Profile

Dr James Fowler: Senior Lecturer in French

Novels, drama and other writings of the 18th century; Diderot and the Enlightenment; prudes and their relation to libertinage; narratology; psychoanalysis; discourses of the body; Richardson’s reception in France.

View Profile

Dr Declan Kavanagh: Lecturer in 18th-Century Literature

Eighteenth-century poetry; satire; political writing; masculinity; Irish literature; queer theory; gay, lesbian and transgender writing and culture; phobia in literature; disability studies.

View Profile

Professor Donna Landry: Professor of English and American Literature

Eighteenth-century literature, culture, and empire; colonial discourse and postcolonial theory; Middle Eastern, especially Turkish, literature; Ottomanism and Enlightenment; travel writing; queer theory; animal studies; sea and desert studies; historical re-enactment. 

View Profile

Dr William Pettigrew: Reader in American History

England and her Atlantic colonies in the 16th to 18th centuries; the history of the British Atlantic Empire; the trans-Atlantic slave trade; race and ethnicity; the history of economic thought; Renaissance diplomacy. 

View Profile

Dr Robbie Richardson: Lecturer in 18th-Century Literature

Eighteenth-century British and transatlantic literature and culture; history and literature of British empire; museum studies; material culture; Indigenous studies; postcolonial and critical race theory; cultural studies.

View Profile

Dr Charlotte Sleigh: Reader in the History of Science

History and culture of the life sciences in the 19th and 20th centuries; history of natural history; literature; gender.

View Profile

Dr Ben Thomas: Senior Lecturer; Curator, Studio 3 Gallery

Renaissance art; Renaissance art theory; Renaissance and baroque prints; the history of collecting and museums; historiography of art, particularly the work of Edgar Wind and the Cold War.

View Profile

Fees

The 2018/19 annual tuition fees for this programme are:

Eighteenth Century Studies - MA at Canterbury:
UK/EU Overseas
Full-time £7300 £15200
Part-time £3650 £7600

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 accommodation and living costs, plus 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: