The MA in Postcolonial Studies develops your understanding of how cultural forms offer a radical resistance to colonial worldviews that are still very much prevalent today.
Develop you own expertise in the relationship between politics, culture, and imperialism, whilst exploring the urgency and vibrancy of postcolonial writing. Topics may include postcolonial responses to the climate emergency, global capitalism, migration and diaspora. If you have never studied postcolonial literature before, or if you wish to expand your existing reading, our modules are dedicated to both canonical works and the very latest developments in the field.
The University of Kent was one of the first universities to establish postcolonial literary studies in the UK and has continued to play a significant part in the development of the field with an incredible national and international reputation. Among the teachers involved in the programme are Bashir Abu-Manneh, Bahriye Kemal, Kaori Nagai, Maria Ridda and Matthew Whittle (see staff research interests for further details).
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, 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.
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.
You are more than your grades
For 2021, in response to the challenges caused by Covid-19 we will consider applicants either holding or projected a 2:2. This response is part of our flexible approach to admissions whereby we consider each student and their personal circumstances. If you have any questions, please get in touch.
A second class honours degree (2.2 or above) or equivalent in a relevant subject.
The University will consider applications from students offering a wide range of qualifications. Some typical requirements are listed below. Students offering alternative qualifications should contact us for further advice.
If you are an international student, visit our International Student website for further information about entry requirements for your country, including details of the International Foundation Programmes.
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.
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.
Duration: One year full-time, two years part-time
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.
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.
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 and will be assessed by a 5,000 word essay. Essays that investigate topics not directly covered by the set reading are encouraged and can be developed in consultation with the tutor.
This module will introduce you to a variety of theoretical frameworks for reading Victorian literature as 'world literature': that is, the product of global circuits of knowledge and commodity exchange, as well as cross-cultural encounters. The first half of the module moves from an examination of the global dimensions of canonical Victorian novelists such as Charles Dickens and George Eliot to an interdisciplinary consideration of the anthropological writings that shaped discourses on race, class and the nation during the mid-nineteenth century. The second half of the module explores how these discourses were appropriated and challenged by colonial writers visiting Britain, settler writers in the colonies, and British writers seeking to represent and memorialise imperial and colonial life for the British reading public.
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 of origin, identity and language. Whilst the modernists’ experimentation with form, reflecting the ever-changing data of modern consciousness, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. We will also consider different modes of reading, for example paranoid reading, reparative reading, and surface reading, with specific reference to affect theory and queer theory. 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.
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.
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.
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.
Students will read and respond to a selection of biographies and autobiographies in various literary forms—along with the core reading list, a module reader will contain extracts of examples of: the life, memoir, journal, chronicle, essay, testimony, case study, confession; even the Japanese 'I-novel' and participatory journalism will be considered—to inform the planning of and working on their own piece of biographical or autobiographical ‘life’ writing. Students will investigate the intersections between fiction and non-fiction (and poetry), deploying a range of literary techniques. The module will be structured thematically, working with different forms and sub-genres in turn, allowing the students to experiment with various approaches. During the first half (six sessions), specific works will be discussed (and appropriate writing exercises applied), three sessions will be filled with workshops, and one session will be spent brainstorming ideas and planning.
'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.
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.
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, prepare your dissertation proposal, and begin writing. 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.
Assessment is by a 5,000 word essay for each module and a 15,000 word dissertation.
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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 email@example.com.
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In The Complete University Guide 2021, the University of Kent was ranked in the top 10 for research intensity. This is a measure of the proportion of staff involved in high-quality research in the university.
Please see the University League Tables 2021 for more information.
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.
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's 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 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 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.
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.
Full details of staff research interests can be found on the School's website.
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.
Our research centres organise many international conferences, symposia and workshops. and establish 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.
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.
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.
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