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Postgraduate Courses 2016

English and American Literature - MA

Canterbury

Overview

The English and American Literature MA allows you to choose from the full range of our MA literature modules.

The list of what’s on offer is regularly added to by academics keen to explore new areas of thinking with students and to draw you in to our established areas of research strength, such as postcolonial studies; 18th-century studies; modern poetry and fiction; or Victorian studies. The modules draw on many different critical approaches and focus on a wide range of historical periods, ideas and places from modern India to post-war New York to literary London in the 18th century.

Within this programme you may also choose to take pathways, so as to concentrate on studies in certain specific areas (especially if you intend to continue to a research degree in a particular field).

This programme can also be studied in Paris only or with your year shared between Canterbury and Paris.

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

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.

Course structure

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

You then write the dissertation 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.

MT864 - Reading the Medieval Town: Canterbury, an International City (30 credits)

This course will focus on a number of inter-related themes which will be studied through differing types of evidence from written and printed texts to objects and standing buildings. Consequently, certain seminars will take place outside the seminar room, looking at the evidence in situ. Topics will include the medieval topography, civic governance, urban defence, house and household, commercial practices and premises, parish church development, the place of religious houses, pilgrimage and city-crown relations, as a way of examining issues such as space, power, patronage and responses to changing social, political and economic conditions. Students will be encouraged to think comparatively, both nationally and internationally, to assess Canterbury’s place within medieval European society.

Credits: 30 credits (15 ECTS credits).

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MT865 - Encountering the Holy: Devotion and the Medieval Church (30 credits)

The course, which will be structured chronologically, traces the development of devotional theories and practices as they affected both religious and lay communities, and will draw on a range of source materials, including legal documents, philosophical and theological treatises, and literary texts. Topics will include the papacy and theology, preachers and pastoral care, eucharistic theology, religious guilds and mysticism.

Credits: 30 credits (15 ECTS credits).

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EN803 - Critical Race Theory (30 credits)

This module helps students to develop a familiarity with the discourse of Critical Race Theory, with its origins in the combining of Legal Studies with Critical Theory, and with its application to a range of texts and contexts in North America and the UK.

Students will examine particular instances in recent history in which race has been unsystematically and systemically defined and/or challenged in social and institutional terms. They will analyse particular trends in institutional racial and racialised discourse. And they will apply the concepts and terms of analysis that they learn to the examination of literary and cultural texts that reflect, refract, and challenge such discourse. Embedded in the course will be a running discussion of institutionalised discourses around race, which will be focused on analysis of equality of opportunity in the academy through the work of Ahmed and Kuokkanen.

In the course of this module, then, students will be introduced to a range of writing, art, and performance from several ethnic groups in North America, including African American, Native American, and Chicano/a, and they will be asked to examine the ways in which prevailing ideas of race and the ways those ideas are manifested in and through legal, political, and cultural rhetorics, form and inform, inflect and are inflected by such paradigms as white privilege, intersectionality, biopolitics, equality, borders and border-crossing, resistance/activism, and racism.

Credits: 30 credits (15 ECTS credits).

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EN818 - American Modernism 1900-1930 (Teaching Period I) (30 credits)

This course examines the growth and development of the 'modernist aesthetic' in American Literature during the first three decades of the twentieth century. The emphasis in American Modernism 1 is on fiction, but there will be room for students to pursue particular interests they may have in drama and the visual arts in the United States during ‘the modernist phase’. Some attempt will be made to consider American Modernism in the wider international context; suggested reading in European Modernism is appended to this reading list.



The seminar programme is arranged along chronological lines; we can, however, adjust our 'itinerary' according to student interests. We’ll take ‘reading weeks’ at some point in mid-term (in consultation with students in the group) and in the final week of term, week 12 (when you’ll need time to work on your essays).

Credits: 30 credits (15 ECTS credits).

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EN832 - Hacks, Dunces and Scribblers: Authorship and the Marketplace in the Eig (30 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.

Credits: 30 credits (15 ECTS credits).

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EN834 - Imagining India (30 credits)

This course will trace the evolution of the images and perceptions surrounding the idea of India in British and Indian literature from the ‘Mutiny’ of 1857 to the present day. Through a variety of genres, including fiction, film and painting we will explore the ways in which representations of India became important sites of conflict, fantasy and dialogue between Indian and British writers in the late colonial period. We will then go on to consider how these discourses were co-opted, questioned and re-visioned after Independence by successive generations of Indians negotiating the rapidly changing idea of the nation. The course will be centred largely (but not exclusively) on works written in English and will question what it means to translate cultures, languages, and national vocabularies – what is lost and gained in the act of literary appropriation and exchange, and how history is shaped in the process.

Credits: 30 credits (15 ECTS credits).

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EN835 - Dickens, The Victorians and the Body (30 credits)

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.

Credits: 30 credits (15 ECTS credits).

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EN836 - Dickens and the Material Culture of the Victorian Novel (30 credits)

Dickens’s engagement with the material culture of his age has long been recognised by readers and critics. In her influential analysis of the English novel’s form and function in 1953, Dorothy Van Ghent identified his characteristic ‘transposition of attributes’ as symptomatic of a world in which ‘the qualities of things and people were reversed’: ‘people were becoming things, and things ... were becoming more important than people.’ At the same time, critics have long noted the way in which Victorian novelists have used ‘things’ to achieve that ‘solidity of specification’ associated by Henry James with narrative realism. More recently, following on from the sesqui-centenary of the Great Exhibition in 2001, much study has been devoted to the so-called Victorian ‘exhibitionary complex’ and the emergence of ‘thing theory’ has brought new attention to what objects can tell us about the culture and society of the Victorians and their developing response to modernity. This module explores the engagement of selected mid-century fiction and journalism with Victorian material culture and introduces students to some of the key works in this developing field. It will examine the materiality not only in but of these these texts; the implications of serialization; the relationship between literature and journalism; and, through a visit to one of the Dickens Museums (in Kent or in London), some consideration of what its objects and artefacts may contribute to an understanding of Dickens and Victorian culture.

Credits: 30 credits (15 ECTS credits).

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EN842 - Reading the Contemporary (30 credits)

'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.

Credits: 30 credits (15 ECTS credits).

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EN850 - Centres and Edges: Modernist and PostcolonialQuest Literature (30 credits)

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.

Credits: 30 credits (15 ECTS credits).

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EN852 - Colonial and Postcolonial Discourses (30 credits)

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.

Credits: 30 credits (15 ECTS credits).

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EN857 - Body and Place in the Postcolonial Text (30 credits)

This module involves a materialist analysis of the dynamics of colonialism and postcolonialism, while at the same time problematising the assumed distinction between body and mind, or spirit. It is divided into three sections. The first section explores ethnic conflict and racism in relation to caste and class in postcolonial Indian society. The second looks at the economic deployments of the body of the master and the body of the slave. The third section examines the pairing of land and freedom in North African and Palestinian contexts.

Credits: 30 credits (15 ECTS credits).

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EN862 - Contemporary Arab Novel (30 credits)

This module traces the development of the Arab novel from 1960 to the present, and examines the work of key novelists from around the Arab world (including Egypt and Iraq). It also examines Arab novels written in European languages, especially in English and French. It reads the novel in historical context, and connects it to questions of decolonization and emancipation, post-colonial disillusionment and political repression, war and fracture, and contemporary immigration. It also focuses on questions of literary form and interrogates the changing relationship between aesthetics and politics.

The first weeks are dedicated to charting the emerging hopes of Arab decolonization after the loss of Palestine in 1948. These set the stage for questions of political and women's emancipation, especially in al-Zayyat's Egypt. With Mahfouz and Ibrahim, an internal critique of Arab decolonization begins to emerge from a social justice perspective. This is also registered on the level of form, where narrative disjuncture and individual alienation become more prevalent. The Arab novel here begins to introduce more modernist elements, while maintaining a predominantly realist framework. The following weeks ruminate on the disappointments of independence, and the emergence of social violence and political prison as tools of state repression. These mark a broader shift in the Arab world, which is captured by the Lebanese Civil War and the rise of the repressive Baath state apparatus. The Arab contemporary novel in Europe is also examined through themes of immigration and memory, faith, identity, and women’s struggle against oppression.

Credits: 30 credits (15 ECTS credits).

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EN865 - Post-45: American Literature and Culture in the Cold War Era (30 credits)

This module is designed to introduce postgraduates to high level research in the field of post-45 American literature and culture, spanning the period from the end of World War Two to the late twentieth century. Proceeding in chronological fashion, it will address key issues such as the cultural Cold War, Black Power, feminism and cosmopolitanism through the close analysis of cultural items in their historical moment. These will include texts such as novels by Ralph Ellison and, Thomas Pynchon; essays by Susan Sontag and Joan Didion; cultural criticism by Clement Greenberg and Lionel Trilling; and sociological analysis by C. Wright Mills. In addition, painting and film will be discussed where appropriate. Students will be encouraged to approach and understand aesthetic texts and objects both on their own terms and in relation to broader historical phenomena such as shifting geopolitical configurations, changing race and gender relations, and the rise of neoliberalism. Ultimately they will be in a position to address fundamental questions about the nature and function of "culture" itself in the period. Throughout the module, students will also explore the latest research in the field, reading influential contemporary scholarship and acquainting themselves with salient critical debates concerning methodology, including those over the sociology of culture, the demise of postmodernism as a critical paradigm, and periodization.

Credits: 30 credits (15 ECTS credits).

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EN866 - The Awkward Age: Transatlantic Culture and Literature in Transition, 18 (30 credits)

This module explores the affinities, disjunctions, and dialogue between American, British, and Irish literary traditions from 1880 to 1920. The turn of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth gave writers on both sides of the Atlantic an acute sense of epochal drama and self-consciousness: they brooded over ideas of decadence, apocalypse, progress, revolution, and the nature of the zeitgeist; heralded endings, transitions, repetitions, reversals, and beginnings; and explored the ambivalences and confusions provoked by the idea of the 'modern'. We will pay particular attention to how writers conceptualise and represent history and time, and seek to anatomise the varieties of pessimism, nostalgia, and utopian thinking that the turn of the century inspired.

This module focuses on texts by both canonical and non-canonical writers that often fall through the cracks of conventional literary history because they were published in the 'awkward age' and are often considered neither solidly Victorian nor yet programmatically modernist. We will interrogate standard national narratives of literary history (in the case of Britain, the compartmentalisations of the fin de siècle and the Edwardian, and in the case of America, those of the Gilded Age and the Progressive Era), as well as the assumption that national literary traditions were distinct and coherent in the period. We will consider how American, British, and Irish writers reckoned with the forces shaping transatlantic intellectual and cultural life, especially post-Darwinian science, imperialism, socialism, feminism, and cosmopolitan ideals of culture. We will also consider how writers made the awkwardness of the age not simply a thematic preoccupation but a complex aesthetic challenge, prompting innovations as well as efforts to sustain the ideal of a literary tradition.

Credits: 30 credits (15 ECTS credits).

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EN871 - Men and Women: Modernist Poetry (30 credits)

This module is an introduction to the work of some of the canonical figures of early 20th century poetry, such as T S Eliot and Ezra Pound, set alongside that of some more recently established figures of the same period, such as Mina Loy and Laura Riding. The module looks at the major methods of writing poetry in this period, as well as the established frameworks of critical discussion which accompany these works. We learn to read this poetry both micrologically - ie as far as possible 'on its own terms' - and macrologically in relation to a variety of discourses and contexts. We relate the poetry to its early modernist forbears, to its immediate social and critical situation, and to modern critical and cultural debate on topics as feminism and democracy. Seminars discuss important works of the period and their critical reception, and will also provide an opportunity for you to present your own papers for discussion.

Credits: 30 credits (15 ECTS credits).

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EN872 - Provocations and Invitations (30 credits)

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.

Credits: 30 credits (15 ECTS credits).

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EN876 - Dickens and the Condition of England (30 credits)

The module will be based on a study of the following works by Dickens:



Bleak House

Hard Times

Little Dorrit

Charles Dickens: Selected Journalism

A Christmas Carol



These will be studied in relation to:



Specific social, cultural and political issues in early and mid-Victorian England: e.g. class division; privilege and meritocracy; the experience of the metropolis; sanitary reform; industrialisation and work; domestic ideology;

The call by Carlyle and others to writers to engage with the Condition-of-England Question; and the reception of the politicised novel;

The narrative and structural strategies developed by Dickens to address Condition-of-England issues;

The formal and substantive relationships between Dickens’s fiction and his journalism.

Credits: 30 credits (15 ECTS credits).

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EN888 - Extremes of Feeling: Literature and Empire in the Eighteenth Century (30 credits)

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.

Credits: 30 credits (15 ECTS credits).

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EN889 - Literary Theory (30 credits)

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.

Credits: 30 credits (15 ECTS credits).

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EN895 - Jane Austen and Material Culture (30 credits)

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.

Credits: 30 credits (15 ECTS credits).

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EN897 - Advanced Critical Reading (30 credits)

This module is designed to help you extend and develop your skill, enjoyment and confidence as a reader of critical and theoretical texts. We will reflect on the pleasures and challenges of the reading process as we work slowly through a single major essay. As we go we will focus on 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 what the essay means for us and how it goes about the game of thinking. The module is designed to help you come away with an in-depth knowledge of the essay and the texts and ideas surrounding it, and a deeper understanding of how you read.



Our ten weekly seminars will function as a two-hour guided reading-group. Seminars will incorporate short student presentations introducing a particular passage, or otherwise focusing on issues raised by the main text or on relations between these issues, the main text and supplementary reading. Total study hours: 20 per week. Students will be assessed on a piece of written work of 5-6,000 words presented at the conclusion of the module on a topic agreed with the teacher.



In 2015-16 the central text is 'Aphorism Countertime,' by Jacques Derrida.



'Aphorism Countertime' was first published on the occasion of a new production of Romeo and Juliet in Paris in 1986. As well as finding out about about aphorisms, time and mistiming as Derrida's thinking frames them, we will read Shakespeare's play, study Freud on why we make mistakes, excerpts from the philosophy of Hegel and Husserl and discuss stories and films that explore timing, love, fate and near-misses.



Aphorism: Any principle or precept expressed in few words; a short pithy sentence containing a truth of general import; a maxim.

Credits: 30 credits (15 ECTS credits).

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EN908 - Inventing the American "Indian" in the Eighteenth Century (30 credits)

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.

Credits: 30 credits (15 ECTS credits).

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Teaching and Assessment

Assessment is by a 5-6,000-word essay for each module and a 12,000 word dissertation.

Programme aims

This programme aims to:

  • extend and deepen through coursework and research your understanding of a body of literatures in English, with special emphasis on modern and postcolonial literatures, and on literary and critical theory
  • enable you to develop an historical awareness of literary traditions
  • develop your independent critical thinking and judgement
  • introduce you to bibliographic method and scholarship and to foster in you the research methods that facilitate advanced literary study
  • provide a basis in knowledge and skills if you intend to teach English and American literature, especially in higher education
  • develop your understanding and critical appreciation of the expressive resources of language
  • offer opportunities for you to develop your potential for creative writing (where such a module is taken)
  • offer scope for the study of literature within an interdisciplinary context, notably that provided by history
  • develop your ability to argue a point of view with clarity and cogency, both orally and in written form.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

You will gain knowledge and understanding of:

  • authors and texts from British, American and postcolonial literatures
  • the principal literary genres, fiction, poetry drama and of other kinds of writing and communication
  • literatures in English from countries outside Britain and America
  • traditions in literary criticism
  • the challenges of creative writing (where such a module is taken)
  • terminology used in literary criticism
  • the cultural and historical contexts in which literature is written, published and read
  • critical theory and its applications
  • literary criticism as a practice subject to considerable variation of approach
  • inter- and multidisciplinary approaches to the advanced study of literature
  • research methods.

Intellectual skills

You develop intellectual skills in:

  • the application of the skills needed for advanced academic study and enquiry
  • the evaluation of research findings
  • the ability to synthesise information from a number of 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 source and large body of knowledge
  • the exercise of problem-solving skills.

Subject-specific skills

You gain subject-specific skills in:

  • enhanced skills in the close critical analysis of literary texts
  • informed critical understanding of the variety of critical and theoretical approaches to the study of literature
  • the ability to articulate knowledge and understanding of texts, concepts and theories relating to advanced English studies
  • sensitivity to generic conventions in the study of literature
  • well-developed linguistic resourcefulness, including a grasp of standard critical terminology
  • articulate responsiveness to literary language
  • appropriate scholarly practice in the presentation of formal written work, in particular in bibliographic and annotational practices
  • an understanding of how cultural norms and assumptions influence questions of judgement.

Transferable skills

You will gain the following transferable skills:

  • developed powers of communication and the capacity to argue a point of view orally and written form, with clarity, organisation and cogency
  • enhanced confidence in the efficient presentation of ideas designed to stimulate critical debate
  • developed critical acumen
  • the ability to assimilate and organise substantial quantities of complex information
  • competence in the planning and execution of essays and project-work
  • enhanced skills in creative writing (where the relevant module has been taken)
  • the capacity for independent thought, reasoned judgement, and self-criticism
  • enhanced skills in collaborative intellectual work
  • the ability to understand, interrogate and apply a variety of theoretical positions and weigh the importance of alternative perspectives
  • research skills, including scholarly information retrieval skills
  • IT skills: word-processing, the ability to access electronic data.

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).

General entry requirements

Please also see our general entry requirements.

English language entry requirements

For detailed information see our English language requirements web pages. 

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 19th-century research group is organised around the successful MA in Dickens and Victorian Culture and the editorship of The Dickensian, the official publication outlet for new Dickens letters. Other staff research interests include literature and gender, journalism, representations of time and history, sublimity and Victorian Poetry.

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 events series 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 David Ayers: Professor of Modernism and Critical Theory

Anglo-American Modernism; European Avant-Garde; literature and culture of the Americas; critical theory and philosophy; Russian Revolution and the Cold War.

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Dr Jennie Batchelor: Reader in 18th-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.

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Dr Stella Bolaki: Lecturer in American Literature

Multi-ethnic American literature (especially with a focus on migration/diaspora and transnational approaches); the Bildungsroman; gender theory; life writing and illness/disability; medical humanities. 

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Professor Peter Brown: Professor of Medieval English Literature

Chaucer and other late-medieval English writers; contextual aspects of medieval culture, including historiography; the visual arts; dreams and space.

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Dr Michael Collins: Lecturer in American Literature

Nineteenth-century print culture, theatre, American studies and New York intellectual history; performance theory; new historicist and/or transnational methodologies.

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Dr Rosanna Cox: Lecturer in Early Modern Studies

Milton; 16th and 17th-century literature and culture; gender; political writing; intellectual history. 

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Dr Vybarr Cregan-Reid: Lecturer in English and American Literature

Nineteenth-century literature and culture, especially representations of nature and the environment, time, history, queer theory; sublimity; ecology and psychogeography.

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Dr Sarah Dustagheer: Lecturer in Early Modern Literature

Early modern drama and literature, Shakespeare, playwriting, performance, theatre space and spatial theory.

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David Flusfeder: Lecturer in Creative Writing

Twentieth-century American and British fiction (also Borges, Cortázar and Büchner); modernism; and the literature and cinema of the 1960s and early 1970s.

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Professor Abdulrazak Gurnah: Professor of English and Postcolonial Literature

Colonial and postcolonial discourse as they relate to African, Caribbean and Indian writing. 

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Professor David Herd: Professor of English and Postcolonial Literature

Twentieth-century poetry and poetics; American literature; the avant-garde; the politics of migration.

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Dr Ben Hickman: Lecturer in Modern Poetry

English and American experimental poetry of the 20th century; new American poetry; Anglo- American poetic relations; the dynamic between poetry and political action.

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Dr Sarah James: Lecturer in Medieval Literature

Late-medieval literary, visual and religious culture; vernacular theology; hagiography; manuscript studies. 

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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.

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Professor Bernhard Klein: Professor of English

Early modern literature and culture; Irish studies; travel writing and cartography; maritime history and culture. 

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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. 

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Dr Sara Lyons: Lecturer in Victorian Literature

Nineteenth-century literature and culture; Victorian poetry and critical prose; fin-de-siècle aestheticism and decadence; the interrelations between literature, religion, secularism in the long nineteenth century.

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Dr Ariane Mildenberg: Lecturer in English and American Literature

Modernist poetry; Wallace Stevens; Gertrude Stein; Virginia Woolf; the kinship of method and concern between phenomenology and modernist literature and art; the interaction of contemporary philosophy with theology; the relationship between modernism and postcolonial writing; translation of Scandinavian poetry.

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Professor Janet Montefiore: Professor of English and American Literature

Twentieth-century literature; Auden; Kipling; H D; Sylvia Townsend Warner; contemporary poetry; feminist critical theory; the intersections of writing and politics.

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Professor Michael Neill: Professor of Early Modern Literature

Shakespeare; early modern drama; restoration comedy; postcolonial literature; Irish literature.

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Dr Will Norman: Lecturer in North American Literature

Twentieth-century American literature and culture; European and American modernism; Vladimir Nabokov; models of high and low culture in the mid-20th century; critical theory; American crime fiction and transatlantic studies.

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Dr Marion O'Connor: Reader in American and English Literature

Theatrical reconstructions and dramatic revivals; iconography; drama as historiography; censorship.

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Dr Alex Padamsee: Lecturer in English and American Literature

Postcolonial literature and theory; South Asian literatures; British writing on India; race, empire and colonisation in 19th and 20th-century British literature; partition and trauma studies.

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Professor Wendy Parkins: Professor of Victorian Literature

Victorian modernity; gender and sexuality in the 19th century; the Victorian novel (especially Dickens, Gaskell, Collins); literature of the fin-desiècle period; aestheticism and William Morris. 

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Dr Ryan Perry: Lecturer in Medieval Literature

The axis between literary criticism and codicological analysis; the application of new critical approaches to manuscript study, borrowing from disciplines such as anthropology and focusing on the situation of texts within their synchronic material contexts.

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Dr Catherine Richardson: Reader in Renaissance Studies

Early modern drama, literature and cultural history; relation between textual and material culture, especially clothing and the household; oral and literate cultures.

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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.

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Professor Caroline Rooney: Professor of African and Middle Eastern Studies

African and Middle Eastern literature, especially Zimbabwean and Egyptian; colonial discourse and postcolonial theory; the Arab Spring; liberation literature and theory; terror and the postcolonial; global youth cultures, especially hip-hop and spoken word; contemporary visual arts; sea and desert studies; queer theory; psychoanalysis.

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Dr Derek Ryan: Lecturer in Modernist Literature

Virginia Woolf studies; modernism; animal studies; posthumanism; theory; philosophy and literature.

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Dr David Stirrup: Senior Lecturer in English and American Literature

First nations and Native American literature; 20th-century North American literature; the American and Canadian Midwest; border studies.

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Dr Juha Virtanen: Lecturer in American Literature

Twentieth century literature and theory; contemporary literature; American and British poetry after 1945; intersections between poetry, performance, visual arts, and socio-polital discourses. 

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Dr Catherine Waters: Professor of 19th-Century Studies

Victorian literature and culture, especially fiction and journalism; Dickens; Sala; George Eliot; literature and gender.

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Dr Sarah Wood: Senior Lecturer in English and American Literature

Creative critical writing; 19th and 20th-century poetry and fiction, especially Robert Browning and Elizabeth Bowen; writing and visual art; literary theory; deconstruction, especially Derrida; psychoanalysis; continental philosophy.

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Dr Clare Wright: Lecturer in Medieval Literature

Medieval drama and performance; audiences; embodiment, corporeality, movement and memory; religious and devotional culture; performance theory; cognitive theory and neuroscience; space and place.

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Fees

The 2016/17 annual tuition fees for this programme are:

English and American Literature - MA at Canterbury:
UK/EU Overseas
Full-time £5430 £13340
Part-time £2720 £6690

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

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