Students preparing for their graduation ceremony at Canterbury Cathedral

English and American Literature - MA

2017

This innovative and interdisciplinary MA programme combines taught modules and a dissertation and allows you to share your year between Canterbury and Paris.

2017

Overview

You choose from our full range of MA literature modules, which 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.

Following a similar path to our English and American Literature MA, the Paris option allows you to spend your first term at our Canterbury campus with full access to its excellent academic and recreational facilities. For the spring term you relocate to our Paris centre, studying in a historic corner of Montparnasse - close to the famous Latin Quarter, the Sorbonne University and the glorious Jardin du Luxembourg.

In Paris, you participate in the Paris-focused modules, taught in English. Then, in the final term, you complete your MA by writing a 12-15,000-word dissertation on a research topic defined in collaboration with your academic supervisors. The programme can also be studied in Paris only.

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 each of the first two terms and a dissertation in the third.

The modules available in Paris, during the second term are:

  • One Paris module from your own subject area (compulsory).
  • The second module can be taken from the selection of Paris modules available.

For further information about the University of Kent, Paris, please see www.kent.ac.uk/paris/

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.

Possible modules may include Credits ECTS 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).

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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.

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

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

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The curriculum includes a selection of texts from various countries, all readily available in English and all specifically relevant to the modern history, evolving population and changing appearance of Paris and to how these aspects of the city has been perceived and represented in literary prose. The set texts are by writers from different periods and of various nationalities and they are all set in and inspired by Paris. The texts are chosen for their high literary quality, but also because they represent essential aspects of the city’s evolution and exemplify various narrative strategies and ways of engaging with the realities of life in the city, always shaped by personal preoccupations and sensibilities. This varied selection within the genre of prose fiction allows study of Zola’s naturalism and his presentation of the political and aesthetic implications of baron Haussman’s plans for urban renewal and control; Edith Wharton’s perspective as an American incomer; André Breton’s combination of oneiric urban encounters with photographic illustrations of the city, inserted into the text; Jean Rhys’s clearly gendered experience of the city in the 1920s and 1930s; the identity of the city as a site for postwar liberation and literary dynamism in the work of expatriates from the Beat generation; and the representation of today’s city as a centre for immigrant communities and cultural diversity. The primary texts are thus all Paris-focussed but are chosen to open an international perspective on the literary representation of an increasingly cosmopolitan city.

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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
  • develop your knowledge and understanding of relevant aspects of contemporary Paris and the cultural history of the city as reflected in modern European, English and American literatures and other artistic media.

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
  • Modernism as an international movement in literature and art and the role of Paris as a site of modernist experimentation
  • the cultural history of modern Paris, as reflected in art and literature
  • traditions in literary criticism
  • 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
  • adaptation skills: learning to work in different environments by adapting to the educational, cultural and professional environments of England and France, while adopting an interdisciplinary approach to literary studies.

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
  • knowledge of French and European culture and literature
  • knowledge of the cultural development of modern Paris, as expressed in literature and art.

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, cogency and sophistication
  • 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
  • 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
  • living and working in diverse cultural environments: you will participate and work in academic communities in both Canterbury and Paris. You will thus develop cultural knowledge and understanding, flexibility, imagination, resourcefulness and tolerance.

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. 

Meet our staff in your country

For more advise about applying to Kent, you can meet our staff at a range of international events.

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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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.

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Dr Stella Bolaki: Senior 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: Reader in English and Environmental Humanities

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

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Patricia Debney: Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing

Creative writing (prose poetry, short fiction); auto/biography; translation and adaptation; collaborative/interdisciplinary work; feminist theory; psychoanalytic theory.

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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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Nancy Gaffield: Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing

The border between language and literary studies: stylistics approaches to creative writing; contemporary poetry as practice, including the text both written and performed; the role of the reader as co-producer of meaning; the use of poetic forms. 

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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 Modern Literature

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

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Dr Ben Hickman: Senior 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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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 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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Alex Preston: Lecturer in Creative Writing

The modern novel; the ways that literature has responded to the violence of the 20th century; short stories.

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Professor Catherine Richardson: Professor of Early Modern 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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Amy Sackville: Lecturer in Creative Writing

An interest in the novel as a form and its development since the early 20th century from modern to postmodern, and in the interrelation of language and the world; creative writing; modernism.

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Simon Smith: Reader in Creative Writing

Creative writing; poetry in translation, Latin and French; poetry reviewing; experimental fiction; critical theory; theory of creative writing. 

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Dr David Stirrup: Reader in Indigenous and Settler Literatures of the Americas

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

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Professor Scarlett Thomas: Professor of Creative Writing and Contemporary Fiction

Creative writing; writing and science; mathematics and fiction; the contemporary novel. 

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Dragan Todorovic: Lecturer in Creative Writing

Creative non-fiction; liminal areas of fiction; writing in/for visual, aural and multimedia arts; faction writing.

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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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Professor Catherine Waters: Professor of Victorian Literature and Print Culture

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

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Dr Sarah Wood: Reader in English Literature and Literary Theory

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 2017/18 annual tuition fees for this programme are:

English and American Literature - MA at Canterbury and Paris:
UK/EU Overseas
Full-time £7490 £14670

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.*

The University will assess your fee status as part of the application process. If you are uncertain about your fee status you may wish to seek advice from UKCISA before applying.

General additional costs

Find out more about accommodation and living costs, plus general additional costs that you may pay when studying at Kent.

Funding

Scholarships and funding information

Related to this course

Creative Writing MA

Full-time only

Canterbury and Paris

Creative Writing MA

Full-time or part-time

Canterbury

Critical Theory MA

Full-time or part-time

Canterbury

Eighteenth-Century Studies MA

Full-time only

Canterbury and Paris

English MA, PhD

Full-time or part-time

Canterbury

Poetry as Practice MA

Full-time or part-time

Canterbury

Postcolonial Studies MA

Full-time only

Canterbury and Paris

Postcolonial Studies MA

Full-time or part-time

Canterbury

The Contemporary MA

Full-time or part-time

Canterbury

The Contemporary (Paris) MA

Full-time only

Canterbury and Paris