The MA in Postcolonial Studies develops your understanding of the politics of culture. It looks at both the imperial interpretations of the colonial as well as anti-colonial and postcolonial assertions of autonomy.
In this context, while ‘postcolonial’ refers primarily to societies of the so-called ‘Third World’, it also includes questions relevant to cultures such as those of Ireland and Australia.
The University of Kent was one of the first universities to establish postcolonial literary studies in Britain and has continued to play a significant part in the development of the field. Among the teachers involved in the programme are Bashir Abu-Manneh, Caroline Rooney, Donna Landry, Alex Padamsee and Matthew Whittle (see staff research interests for further details).
This programme can also be studied in Canterbury and Paris. This option allows you to spend your first term at our Canterbury campus, before relocating to our Paris centre for the spring term to study in the heart of historic Montparnasse.
Think Kent video series
Fra Mauro’s Mappa Mundi (1448-53) was one of the earliest maps to imagine the Indian Ocean as open waters rather than closed in by a southern land-mass. This lecture by Emeritus Professor Abdulrazak Gurnah, acclaimed novelist and Professor of English and Postcolonial Literatures at the University of Kent, re-imagines it as a cosmopolitan site which preceded and survived colonialism, rather than another chapter in the grinding and inevitable consolidation of European power.
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.
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.
You take a compulsory module, at least one more specialist Postcolonial module and two other modules (four in total) during the autumn and spring terms. You are also expected to attend the Faculty and School Research Methods Programmes.
You then write the dissertation or editorial project between the start of the summer term and the end of August.
The list below should be considered indicative of the types of modules available, which may vary from year to year in response to new curriculum developments and innovation.
|Compulsory modules currently include||Credits|
EN852 - Colonial and Postcolonial Discourses
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.View full module details
EN855 - Writing of Empire and Settlement
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.View full module details
|Optional modules may include||Credits|
EN865 - Post-45: American Literature and Culture in the Cold War Era
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.View full module details
EN866 - The Awkward Age: Transatlantic Culture and Literature in Transition, 18
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.View full module details
EN868 - Queer Enlightenments: Eighteenth-Century Narratives of Sex and Gender
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.View full module details
EN872 - Provocations and Invitations
This module introduces the challenges and pleasures of postmodern poetry and poetics. We will consider a range of poetic texts, and essays on poetry, that between them raise profound questions of nation, agency, language, politics and gender in the post-war period. Starting with Charles Olson's ground-breaking inquiries into 'open field poetics’, we will investigate a range of American and British poets for whom the poem has been a way of generating new modes of thought and life. In particular we will explore the ways in which poetry of the period enables us to think through the implications of globalisation. We will consider how poetry can escape the constraints of place, and how it can imagine new forms of collective identity.
Among the poets we will consider are: Charles Olson, Robert Duncan, Frank O’Hara, Denise Riley, Lyn Hejinian, J. H. Prynne, and Tony Lopez. The work of these writers will be read alongside contemporary philosophy and political theory, and will be considered in relation to other art forms, especially painting. Students on the module will benefit from the activities of the Centre for Modern Poetry, including regular readings, research seminars and the reading groups.View full module details
EN876 - Dickens and the Condition of England
This module studies four works by Dickens and a selection of his journalism in relation to the 'Condition of England' question – a phrase coined by Thomas Carlyle in 1839 to describe the rapidly changing political, moral and economic state of the nation in the nineteenth century. It considers the narrative and structural strategies developed by Dickens to address such issues as class division; privilege and meritocracy; the experience of the metropolis; sanitary reform; industrialisation and work; and domestic ideology.View full module details
EN889 - Literary Theory
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.View full module details
EN891 - Fiction 1
On this module students will develop their skills as an independent writer, critic and thinker, understanding and building their own unique writing practice through readings of exemplary texts, open seminar discussion, writing exercises and creative workshops. Students will learn to identify and apply central concepts like plot, narrative, form and structure, theme, voice and character, in both reading and writing practice, Experimentation, ingenuity, ambition and originality in the student's approach to her/his own writing will be encouraged. Workshops will develop close reading and editorial skills and invite students to offer and receive constructive criticism of their peers’ work.View full module details
EN892 - Poetry 1
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.View full module details
EN893 - Fiction 2
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.View full module details
EN894 - Poetry 2
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.View full module details
EN895 - Jane Austen and Material Culture
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.View full module details
EN897 - Advanced Critical Reading
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.View full module details
EN900 - Illness and Disability in American Culture
This module explores representations of illness and disability in American literature and culture, with a particular emphasis on contemporary illness narratives. It encourages students to compare and contrast a range of different genres and media (fiction, life writing, drama, photography, film, popular culture, blogs) and to assess the extent to which they reshape fundamental American ideals and narratives such as the myths of individualism and of everlasting health and happiness. The module follows a thematic rather than chronological framework and is divided into three sections. The first section has a more historical flavour and considers the legacy of the nineteenth-century freak show, prosthetic bodies in post-war and contemporary American culture, and key moments in U.S. disability activism. The second section explores the relationship of illness to language and cultural narratives and, using as case studies cancer narratives and AIDS representations from the twentieth century, examines the aesthetics and politics of illness. It also focuses on the "medicalization" of emotions, statistical panic, and the fear of death as addressed in postmodern fiction and memoirs that consider illness in relation to age (adolescence) and the environment. The final section turns to the depiction of doctors and patients in literature and popular culture, cross-cultural perspectives on health and illness, and the rise of the medical humanities as an academic field.View full module details
EN902 - Victorian Sustainability
This module will chart the emergence of ideas associated with ecology, conservation and sustainability in the Victorian period through examining various writings on the relationship between culture and environment. We will examine Victorian literary texts in which human interaction with – and connection to – the environment is a central concern and will consider these literary depictions alongside non-fictional 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). We will also examine how the British imperial operations overseas influenced and shaped ideas of environmentalism and sustainability.
Informed by current scholarship in ecocriticism, sustainability studies and animal studies, this module will consider how class, gender, sexuality, race and nationalism 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.View full module details
EN908 - Inventing the American "Indian" in the Eighteenth Century
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.View full module details
EN909 - Medical Humanities: An Introduction
Medicine is one of the great human activities. It has a rich and deep history, and it has both created challenges for humans and solved many of our problems. Various academic subjects – such as History, Literature, Philosophy, Law, Archaeology, Drama and Religious Studies – have interesting perspectives on Medicine. For example, through an appreciation of some of medicine's history one can see the tensions that may exist between the scientific spirit and the demands of a society. Similarly, the study of illness narratives and works of literature that explore illness reveals the tension between the lived experience of illness and clinical understandings of disease. Moreover, medical science creates interesting ethical and legal problems, both for society at large and for medical practitioners. In this team-taught module we will study various topics about medicine through the eyes of a number of academic disciplines. You will also come to appreciate the different styles of thought and investigation peculiar to individual disciplines. Topics that stem from the individual academic disciplines will be studied on their own terms in the sessions, although common threads will emerge. (e.g. 'The Humanities', 'Contribution to Medical Practice', 'Illness', 'The Medical Practitioner’, ‘Medicine and Society’, ’The Arts as Therapy’, ‘Perspectives on Mental Health’ etc).
An overarching theme and idea in this module, and the programme, is that a multidisciplinary approach through the Humanities is a highly illuminating way to appreciate medicine.View full module details
EN914 - Marxism: Theory and Culture
This module critically examines core concepts in Marx and Marxism. These include: materialism; alienation and human flourishing; capital and labour; classes; and ideology. The main objective of the module is to familiarize students with key ideas that distinguish Marxism as a set of theoretical propositions essential for understanding the workings of capitalism. Special emphasis will also be given to the Marxist approach in the study of culture. Here the role of intellectuals and the relationship between capitalism and culture is interrogated through theorists like Gramsci, the Frankfurt School, and Raymond Williams. The question of whether Marxism is Eurocentric is also addressed, as well as whether it has a distinct theory of nationalism and imperialism.
The first half of the module is dedicated to charting core concepts of Marxist theory, with special attention given to how these were formulated and utilized in works of classical Marxism (by Marx and Engels). The aim is to zoom in on core Marxists propositions and show how they have been mobilized to interpret the capitalist social formation. The second half introduces other aspects of Marxist theory, especially critical theory and cultural materialism, and tackles the question of Marxist approaches to nationalism and imperialism.View full module details
EN916 - Postcolonial Writing and the Environment
'Postcolonial Writing and the Environment' will introduce students to prose, poetry and film that engages with environmental concerns, including globalisation and indigeneity, climate change, food and water security, species endangerment/extinction, tourism, pollution and migration. Students will interrogate how these concerns are underpinned by human interaction with the environment, and will examine how cultural texts not only facilitate affective engagement with these issues, but allow us to envision solutions and work towards preferred futures. The module will emphasise the political implications of postcolonial ecocriticism by addressing questions of social and environmental justice, animal and human rights, colonialism and postcoloniality, and culture and the individual (amongst other concerns) as a way of showing that analysis of postcolonial writing and the environment always requires attentive and critical engagement with shifting geopolitical world orders. Students will read the core texts in relation to the emerging fields of 'global' and ‘world-literature’, and will be introduced to critical and conceptual debates around issues such as ‘slow violence’, the Anthropocene, and writer-activism.View full module details
EN918 - Worldly Entanglements: Where is Theory now?
This module asks the questions 'Where is theory now?' and 'In what ways is theory "of the world"?' Starting with discussions about ‘the point of theory' (Mieke Bal) and ‘the joy of theory’ (Martin McQuillan), the aim of the module is to study, discuss and compare major contemporary theoretical debates through effective questioning of human and other-than-human ‘worldly entanglements’. This will include the interaction of what Edward Casey calls the ‘edge’ of our own and other forms of ‘skin’ and what Karen Barad calls the intra-action of lively matter. Seminars will look at human bodies, angelic bodies, the body as interpretation, animals, plants, objects and the other-than-human more broadly. In the first half of the term, each week addresses a new theme of such ‘worldly entanglements’, thus ranging across a wide spectrum of interpretation and exploring the complex liaison between our own humanity and the material and non-material world. The second half of the module looks back upon the first half via student presentations, the visit of and discussions with a quest speaker, as well as seminars on Karen Barad’s ‘posthuman performativity’, Clare Colebrook’s ‘extinct theory’ and Rita Felski’s ‘postcritical and reflective reading’. The aim of this second half is to reflect upon (and indeed go beyond reflection of) the continuing cultural and existential relevance of the worldly entanglements central to contemporary theoretical debates.View full module details
EN818 - American Modernism, 1890-1940
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 organised 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. Essays that investigate topics not directly covered by the set reading are encouraged and can be developed in consultation with the tutor.View full module details
EN832 - Hacks, Dunces and Scribblers: Authorship and the Marketplace in the Eig
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.View full module details
EN834 - Imagining India
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.View full module details
EN835 - Dickens, The Victorians and the Body
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.View full module details
EN836 - Dickens and the Material Culture of the Victorian Novel
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 texts; the implications of serialisation; 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.View full module details
EN842 - Reading the Contemporary
'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.View full module details
|Compulsory modules currently include||Credits|
EN998 - Dissertation:GPMS
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.View full module details
Teaching and Assessment
Assessment is by a 5,000 word essay for each module and a 12,000 word dissertation.
This programme aims to:
- explore a wide range of writing resulting from the encounter between imperialist and colonised countries and cultures
- examine this writing in the wider context of colonial and postcolonial history
- study how this writing and its history have been theorised
- develop your research skills to the point where you are ready to undertake a research degree
- develop your oral skills to the point where you are able to present a conference-type paper to your peers.
Knowledge and understanding
You will gain knowledge and understanding of:
- a wide range of colonial and postcolonial texts, primarily but not exclusively in English
- the interaction between colonial and postcolonial texts, in terms of the imperialist world’s rendering of the colonial and postcolonial assertions of autonomy
- the relation between critical theory in general, and various kinds of postcolonial theory
- the concepts, terminology and modes of thought specific to postcolonial theory and criticism
- the cultural conditions of production of contemporary postcolonial literatures
- the wider intellectual and academic context from which postcolonial studies has developed.
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 source and large body of knowledge
- the ability to think conceptually and to criticise analytically.
You gain subject-specific skills in:
- advanced skills in the close critical analysis of colonial and postcolonial writing
- developed and critical understanding of the variety of critical and theoretical approaches to the study of postcolonial literatures
- developed scholarly practice in the presentation of formal written work, of bibliographic and annotation practices, and of structuring and developing an argument over an extended piece of written work
- a nuanced understanding of how cultural norms and assumptions influence questions of judgement.
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.
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.
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.
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, professional qualifications and experience will also be taken into account.
Please see our International Student website for entry requirements by country and other relevant information for your country. Please note that international fee-paying students cannot undertake a part-time programme due to visa restrictions.
English language entry requirements
The University requires all non-native speakers of English to reach a minimum standard of proficiency in written and spoken English before beginning a postgraduate degree. Certain subjects require a higher level.
For detailed information see our English language requirements web pages.
Need help with English?
Please note that if you are required to meet an English language condition, we offer a number of pre-sessional courses in English for Academic Purposes through Kent International Pathways.
Research 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Dr Bashir Abu-Manneh: Reader in Postcolonial Literature
Global English and literatures of the Middle East, literary realism and modernism, literary and cultural theory (Marxist and postcolonial)View Profile
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.View Profile
Professor Bernhard Klein: Professor of English Literature
Early modern literature and culture; Irish studies; travel writing and cartography; maritime history and culture.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 Ariane Mildenberg: Senior Lecturer in Modernism
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.View Profile
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.View Profile
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.View Profile
Professor David Stirrup: Professor of American Literature and Indigenous Studies
First nations and Native American literature; 20th-century North American literature; the American and Canadian Midwest; border studies.View Profile
Dr Matthew Whittle: Lecturer in Postcolonial Literature
Postcolonial studies, with a specific interest in Caribbean literature, migration and diaspora, and the “end of Empire”; post-war and contemporary British literature; animal studies and the relationship between trophy hunting, taxonomy and postcoloniality.View Profile
The 2019/20 annual tuition fees for this programme are:
|Postcolonial Studies - Taught MA at Canterbury:|
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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