Our Virtual Open Days are a fantastic way to meet our staff and students. Join our next live event on Thursday 1 April from 15.00 - 18.00 GMT to find out why Kent is right for you.
Deepen your understanding of literature, foster critical thinking, and develop essential skills in our unique project-based English programme. Explore literature from Chaucer to the contemporary, while applying your knowledge to a range of exciting projects.
Kent’s School of English is a large, energetic and pioneering department. Our staff include published poets and novelists, world-renowned scholars and innovative digital practitioners. You will be taught by a wide range of lecturers who use a wide range of approaches, and will therefore encounter new texts, authors and ideas throughout your degree.
In English at Kent we want to help you to make your future, so our degree is project-based. Along with research essays, we will give you the confidence to learn how to produce films, audio recordings, learning journals or other creative outputs as part of your degree. Through such projects, you will demonstrate what you have learned, acquire a range of skills, and gradually assemble a portfolio you can take with you when you graduate.
To ensure you receive the individual attention and mentoring required, we keep our class sizes small and offer you additional training through events like Summer Schools and Arts Festivals.
In your first year, you will take core modules covering the major forms of literature (poetry, drama and fiction), core concepts in critical theory, and writing and research skills. You will also take a range of option modules where you can explore how literature addresses crucial issues such as the environment, power and protest, the social impacts of technology or contemporary feminism.
Instead of exams, your first year will conclude with a program of short courses, workshops and exhibitions during the summer term, where you can pick up essential job skills, intern on research projects in the School, or taste areas of literature you missed in your main modules.
In second year, you will select from a range of core modules covering all the major areas of literary history from the 1300s to the present. This year, you will also decide what you would like to do as your project in your final year, which may take any form: from a dissertation or critical edition to an online exhibition, mobile application, performance, or a piece of creative writing—and more. You will receive additional assistance to refine your proposal during the summer program.
In third year, as well as completing your project, you will take a number of specialist modules that take you deep into cutting-edge areas of literary research. Your degree will culminate in an Arts Festival and Summer School, where you may have the opportunity to exhibit your work to the public and potential employers.
You have the opportunity to study abroad at one of our partner universities between the second and final year. We have exciting exchange links with universities in Canada, China (Hong Kong), Singapore, South Africa, South Korea and the USA, as well as many European destinations.
The placement year provides the opportunity for you to gain experience in the workplace as part of your degree. The placement can be either paid work or an internship. It gives you the opportunity to increase your networks and contacts so that you can hit the ground running when you graduate.
If taken, the year is assessed on a pass/fail basis through employer feedback and a written report that you submit.
Tuition fees for the placement year are greatly reduced and some employers may offer expenses or a salary.
There are many benefits to taking a placement year; it gives you the chance to gain some knowledge of the work environment. acquire new skills and develop your confidence.
There are a variety of literary activities at Kent. Students in the School of English publish a magazine of their creative writing, poetry and prose. There are also a number of student-run societies with a literary theme. In previous years these have included the:
The student newspaper, InQuire, is run by the student union and gives you the opportunity to develop your writing skills and to gain valuable work experience in journalism.
The School of English runs research seminars, workshops and social events, as well as a successful creative writing series of readings, where well-known writers and publishers share their experiences and skills. Previous guests include:
All our students receive free membership to the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) in central London, giving you access to the ICA’s facilities and a small number of internships.
You are more than your grades
At Kent we look at your circumstances as a whole before deciding whether to make you an offer to study here. Find out more about how we offer flexibility and support before and during your degree.
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. Please also see our general entry requirements.
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. Please note that international fee-paying students who require a Student visa cannot undertake a part-time programme due to visa restrictions.
Please note that meeting the typical offer/minimum requirement does not guarantee that you will receive an offer.
BBB including a Humanities based essay writing subject including a humanities based essay writing subject which includes History, English, Philosophy, Religious Studies or Classical Civilisation.
The University will not necessarily make conditional offers to all Access candidates but will continue to assess them on an individual basis.
If we make you an offer, you will need to obtain/pass the overall Access to Higher Education Diploma and may also be required to obtain a proportion of the total level 3 credits and/or credits in particular subjects at merit grade or above.
The University will consider applicants holding BTEC National Diploma and Extended National Diploma Qualifications (QCF; NQF; OCR) on a case-by-case basis. Please contact us for further advice on your individual circumstances. A typical offer would be DMM plus A-level English Literature or English Language & Literature at B.
34 points overall or 15 points at HL, including HL English A1/A2/B at 5/6/6 OR English Literature A/English Language and Literature A (or Literature A/Language and Literature A of another country) at HL 5 or SL 6
Pass all components of the University of Kent International Foundation Programme with a 60% overall average including 60% in the Literature module.
Please see our English language entry requirements web page.
Please note that if you do not meet our English language requirements, we offer a number of 'pre-sessional' courses in English for Academic Purposes. You attend these courses before starting your degree programme.
Duration: 4 years full-time
The following modules are indicative of those offered on this programme. This listing is based on the current curriculum and may change year to year in response to new curriculum developments and innovation. On most programmes, you study a combination of compulsory and optional modules. You may also be able to take ‘elective’ modules from other programmes so you can customise your programme and explore other subjects that interest you.
Changing Literatures: From Chaucer to the Contemporary Literary Forms aims to introduce students to the major forms of literature: poetry, prose and drama, with a core emphasis on innovation. Students will examine the formal structures and generic features of these major forms and, through studying specific examples, observe how these forms change over time and in response to changes in authorship, literary production, and audience/readership. Students will also be exposed to contemporary literary forms, such as literature written via social media (Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram), literature created by Artificial Intelligence, experimental literature, and asked to critically assess them in relation to traditional forms of literature. Embedded in this module will also be the development of writing and research skills that will equip students to manage successfully the transition from A-level to university study in the field of English and American Literature.
Critical theory and theoretical approaches to the interpretation of literary texts have become increasingly fundamental to English Studies, while also offering a number of rich and complex ways of reading and understanding society and culture more generally. In this course, we will introduce you to some key theoretical readings that may, for instance, include: feminism, psychoanalysis, Marxism, Post-Colonialism and Critical Race Studies, and Queer Theory, among others. Through these readings, we will invite you to make connections between theoretical approaches and to think about how they might inform your reading practices on this and other courses. The aim of this work is to help you to understand the significance and usefulness of theory on its own terms, as well as giving you a coherent grounding in the ways theoretical concepts help us to approach and understand literary and other texts. Through this, you will develop a sophisticated understanding of the dynamic relationship between theory and culture, literature and politics.
To have the right to the world, is to have the right to write, read and construct the world, the right to make a different world.
Travelling across all parts of the globe and spanning 500 years, this module introduces a range of literatures and arts that focus on the right to the world as related to displacement, movements and actions. Drawing on Henri Lefebvre's 'right to the city' and 'right to difference', the module provides a platform to interrogate who has the right to write, read and construct the world, and explores ways authors and artists of diverse backgrounds have struggled to claim the right to write, read and construct the world (social, physical and mental places and spaces, which may include: buildings, borders, camps, cities, countries, homes, kitchens, lands, nations, maps, States, streets, seas, villages, and so on) they are living in. These authors and artists are instrumental in providing an understanding of the world we are living in, mainly through highlighting the relationship between the right to the world and internal and external displacement, alongside social movements and political action that relate to local, national and global practices of activism. To demonstrate the relationship between the right to the world and creative activism, the module introduces works in diverse forms, including fiction and non-fiction, written, performative and audio-visuals, and archival. To equip an understanding of the relationship between contemporary and past struggles for the right to the world, the module transitions between key moments, movements and mobilities – including from medieval Western woman on a pilgrimage, to feminist Arab women border-crossing to postcolonial Europe; from 18th Century Abolition to Civil Rights and Black Lives Matter; from Spanish, Ottoman, British Colonialism to Windrush Scandal, Indigenous Rights, Islamophobia, Hostile Environment; from Romantism to an Environmental Crisis. To demonstrate how literature and arts has socio-political and economic potential, the module provides access to various organisations (e.g. charities, grassroot organisations, and activist networks) related to the specific rights, social movements and political action. All of these topics will culminate into the creation of a project that writes to the world, raising public awareness of a specific right to the world that can make a different world.
There is another world, which is this world. This module is founded on the understanding that through engaging with narratives of dystopias, futures, and other speculative realities, we can gain some clarity of the pressing issues we face in the world today. Through examining five thematically structured units over the course of the term, our studies will consider how the study of narratives that exist in 'other worlds' can offer insightful and nuanced analyses of complex questions involving environmental, political, historical and/or societal concerns. We will also consider how these broader contexts and concerns can be utilized to further interrogate the literary texts that we will study. Throughout the module, generic terms such as 'dystopian fiction' or ‘science fiction’ will be understood both broadly and generatively, and our studies will cover both literary and so-called paraliterary examples, alongside occasional screenings of films. Through these multiple forms, we will also have the opportunity to consider questions regarding high and low culture, the seductiveness of certain narrative forms, and the possible tensions between literary and social history.
American Power, American Protest introduces students to the long history of oratorical performance in the USA, from presidential speeches to University debates, from Native American orature to political activism. In so doing, students will be introduced to the necessary tools to understand and critique the rhetorical choices of a range of speakers; to analyse the specific historical and cultural factors that give rise both to the speeches they encounter and the rhetorical choices of their delivery; and to a range of key historical and political events in the life of the USA as well as the range of activists and advocates that give voice to them.
How can nature be invented? Before the Romantic era, writers such as Daniel Defoe talked of the horror, ugliness and 'unhospitable terror' of the Lake District. A hundred years later and the reputation of the region had been completely transformed into a place of beauty and contemplation. This module looks at what happened to the natural world in the century between Defoe and Wordsworth and how the debates produced during the period are ones that we are still struggling to understand the impact of today. In many ways, the legacy of Romanticism might be seen in our understanding of global warming and climate change, informed as it is by Romantic concerns that urge us not to put the natural world in a frame on the wall, or to see it as a distant thing ‘out there’. Instead, they tried to make sense of what we were risking the loss of in the crazed rush to mechanisation, technology and urban living. Throughout the module, the poetry, fiction, and essays that we will encounter (focussing on the early nineteenth century, but from other periods too) explore how the Romantics saw this newly-emergent natural world as: restorative; political, even revolutionary; the place where our bodies belong; an analogue of the mind; a reminder of who we are as a species and the threat of extinction that results in our forgetting it; and how they were cynical about it being put to use for our benefit and suspicious of how it could be profited from. This module will show that Romanticism is still with us, as are their concerns about the environment.
The hashtag #BlackGirlMagic first appeared in 2013 as a response to the erasure of the contributions of black and minority ethnic women on the world stage. This module will focus on the literary, theoretical and cultural contributions of women of colour to the Feminist movement, taking an intersectional and inclusive approach. Engaging with Feminist thought from the Second-Wave to the present moment, the module steers a course through a range of literary, political and philosophical texts and encourages students to develop their own critical understanding of gender and equalities issues. Students are invited to explore the intersections of Feminism in relation to race, sexuality, class and disability. Utilising a Black Feminist theoretical framework, this module takes an inclusive approach to gender identity, including work by trans and non-binary thinkers.
Alongside literary and theoretical texts, the curriculum will include a diverse array of cultural and political Feminist materials, including blogs, videos, music and forms of activism. The Feminist issues examined on this module will be wide ranging, from domestic labour to reproductive rights, sexual violence to mental health. Students will also have the opportunity to explore their own forms of Feminist practice through writing academic blogs and alternative assessment methods.
You have the opportunity to select elective modules in this stage.
This module examines early modern literature written from 1400 to 1700. Looking at a wide range of literary forms, including poetry, prose and drama, students will consider how early modern writers engage with questions of love, gender and sexuality; religion and religious belief; nationhood, travel and colonisation; social commentary, governance and political reform. We will consider how important debates surrounding political, social, gender and religious identity inflect and are reflected in the literature of the period.
The module recognises the literary achievements of male and female authors. Students will have opportunity to read canonical works by Edmund Spenser and John Milton alongside those of pioneering female writers, such as Aemilia Lanyer and Lady Mary Wroth. We will also explore the boundaries of the literary canon, encountering pamphlets, petitions, sermons and conduct books, and consider the ways in which literary and non-literary texts both mirror and influence culture and society.
Please note that the authors, texts, and themes may change periodically in accordance with the research interests and expertise of academic teaching staff.
The drama of early modern England broke new literary and dramatic ground. This module will focus on key plays across the period. It will explore the development of dramatic writing, the status of playing companies within the London theatres, drama's links to court entertainment and its relationship to the provinces. Dramatic and literary form will be a central preoccupation alongside issues of characterisation, culture, politics, and gender. Shakespeare’s work will be put into context in relation to the plays of his contemporary dramatists as well as the various cultural, historical and material circumstances that influenced the composition, performance and publication of drama in early modern England.
Before 1660 there was no English novel, and by the end of the eighteenth century there was Jane Austen. This module asks how such a literary revolution was possible. It investigates the rise of professional authorship in an increasingly open marketplace for books. With commercial expansion came experiment and novelty. Genres unheard of in the Renaissance emerged for the first time: they include the periodical essay, autobiography, the oriental tale, amatory fiction, slave narratives and, most remarkably, the modern novel. Ancient modes such as satire, pastoral and romance underwent surprising transformations. Many eighteenth-century men and women felt that they lived in an age of reason and emancipation – although others warned of enlightenment's darker aspect. Seminar reading reflects the fact that an increasing number of women, members of the labouring classes, and African slaves wrote for publication; that readers themselves became more socially varied; and that Britain was growing to understand itself as an imperial nation within a shifting global context. It asks students to reflect, as eighteenth-century writers did, upon the literary, cultural and political implications of these developments. There will be weekly lectures and seminars.
This module is a study of twentieth-century American literature and culture organized conceptually around the idea of modernity. Students will explore the interconnections between modernity in the United States and the literary and philosophical ideas that shaped it (and were shaped by it) from the start of the century to its close. At the core of the module will be a necessary focus on two versions of American modernity, broadly represented by New York and Los Angeles respectively. Novels, works of art and critical texts will be read alongside one another to explore how these major regional hubs of aesthetic and cultural output developed competing conceptions of "modernity", “American culture” and the place of “the urban” in twentieth-century life, with important effects on contemporary perceptions of the USA. Moving beyond a sense of “modernism” as simply an aesthetic challenge to nineteenth-century modes of romanticism and realism, to consider the embeddedness of “modernist” literature within the particularities of its cultural and historical moment, students will be asked to develop a more nuanced approach to critical reading that pays close attention to the role of differing conceptions of modernity in the USA. The rise of mass culture, the L.A. film industry, the importance of Harlem to the history of race, the role of the intellectual, the urban challenges of the automobile, the birth of the modern American magazine, and questions of conservation and “creative destruction” in cities will all be considered through readings of key novels and critical texts from what Time Magazine editor Henry Luce famously called “The American Century”.
This module looks at some of the most innovative early twentieth century writers. As well as famous authors, such as the novelists Virginia Woolf and James Joyce, and the poet T. S. Eliot, the module examines a wide range of figures, such as Gertrude Stein, who pioneered the 'stream-of-consciousness' technique; the writer and artist Wyndham Lewis, who imitated the bombastic stance of the Italian Futurists; and the African American poet Langston Hughes, who saw the modernist moment as an opportunity to create a new ‘Negro art’. This period is characterised as much by its lively and often strident artistic manifestos as it is by its sometimes monumental literary works, and we take a close look at this climate of literary debate. We will analyse these writers against the background of changing social and sexual attitudes, examine the connections with literary and artistic developments in France and Italy, and unearth some of the less well-known writers of the period who are increasingly viewed as central to modernist literary history.
This module aims to introduce students to a wide range of Victorian literature. It will equip students with critical ideas that will help them become more skilful and confident readers of texts in and beyond this period. Students will be encouraged to read texts in a number of contexts: environmental (for example, considering the effects of urbanisation and the Industrial Revolution); imaginative (examining a variety of genres: for example fable, dream-vision, novel); political (class conflicts, changing gender roles, ideas of nation and empire); and psychological (representations of growing up, courtship, sibling and parent-child relationships, dreams and madness). Students will be made aware of such critical concepts as realism and allegory and will be encouraged to think about various developments of literary form in the period. Students will also be asked to reflect critically on the legacies and afterlives of the Victorian period and its literature in contemporary Britain.
When the Long-Island-born poet Walt Whitman proclaimed in 1855 that the "United States" were history's "greatest poem" he made an important connection between national political culture and literary expression. In some ways this was no exaggeration. As a new experiment in politics and culture, the United States had to be literally written into existence. Beginning with Thomas Jefferson's dramatic Declaration of Independence in 1776, followed by the drafting of the Constitution after the Revolutionary War with Britain, the project of shaping the new United States in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries was essentially a literary one.
In this module we will explore how American writers in this period tried in numerous, diverse ways to locate an original literary voice through which to express their newfound independence. At the same time, the module includes the work of writers who had legitimate grievances against the developing character of a new nation that still saw fit to cling to such “Old World” traditions as racialised slavery, class conflict and gender inequality.
This module will introduce students to a wide range of contemporary literature written in English, where 'contemporary' is taken to refer to twenty-first century work. It will equip students with critical ideas and theoretical concepts that will help them to understand the literature of their own time. Students will consider examples of a range of genres: poetry, fiction, creative non-fiction and the essay. They will also be selectively introduced to key ideas in contemporary theory and philosophy. Over the course of the module, students will be encouraged to read texts in a number of contexts. They will consider writers' responses to, for instance, questions of migration, environmental change, austerity, and crisis. They will also consider a range of aesthetic developments and departures, for example: the turn to creative non-fiction; the re-emergence of the political essay. The module will not focus on a given national context. Instead it will set contemporary writing against the background of identifiably international issues and concerns. In so doing it will draw attention to non-national publishing strategies and audiences. Overall, the module will aim to show how writers are responding to the present period, how their work illuminates and reflects current cultural concerns. Throughout, we will explore both thematic and formal concerns.
This course will introduce students to the field of postcolonial literature, focusing on the period from the late nineteenth century to the present day. The module will be divided into three consecutive areas: empire and colonisation (three weeks); liberation movements and the processes of decolonisation (either three or four weeks); and migration and diaspora (either three or four weeks). Centred primarily on canonical British colonial texts, the first part of the course may also involve comparison with other less familiar texts and contexts, such as those of Zionist nationalism and settler colonialism, or more popular twentieth-century imperial fantasy and adventure genres. The texts in the second part of the module will be drawn primarily from Africa, the Carribean, the Middle East, and South Asia. The intention is to allow students to bring these disparate regions and texts into a productive dialogue with each other by reflecting on their shared history of decolonisation and their common engagement with colonial and liberation discourses. The course further aims to sketch a narrative of empire and decolonisation that is in part relevant to contemporary postcolonial Britain, to which the final section on migration and diaspora then returns. Some brief extracts from theoretical material on colonial discourse analysis, decolonisation, postcoloniality and migration will be considered alongside a single primary text each week. Students will be introduced to key ideas from the work of (among others) Edward Said, Frantz Fanon, Homi Bhabha, Stuart Hall and Gayatri Spivak. Together with a broad primary textual arc stretching from the British empire to postcolonial Britain, the course will thus give students a cohesive intellectual narrative with which to explore changing conceptions of culture, history, and postcolonial identity across the modern world.
All our undergraduate degrees are also available with a Placement Year. For more information about this option please see Placement Year.
Going abroad as part of your degree is an amazing experience and a chance to develop personally, academically and professionally. You experience a different culture, gain a new academic perspective, establish international contacts and enhance your employability.
All students within the Faculty of Humanities can apply to spend a Term or Year Abroad as part of their degree at one of our partner universities in North America, Asia or Europe. You are expected to adhere to any progression requirements in Stage 1 and Stage 2 to proceed to the Term or Year Abroad.
The Term or Year abroad is assessed on a pass/fail basis and will not count towards your final degree classification. Places and destination are subject to availability, language and degree programme. To find out more, please see Go Abroad.
Spending a period as full-time student at an overseas university, students will follow teaching and tuition in their own subject areas as well as choosing from a range of available courses in the Humanities. The curriculum will vary according to the partner institutions. Additionally, students will usually be offered to take language classes and/or courses on the culture of the host country.
This module gives an opportunity for intensive study of one of the major novelists of Victorian England. There are many different views and interpretations of Dickens circulating in our culture. He has been dismissed as a writer of cosy sentimentality, celebrated as a radical critic of his age, and admired for his prodigious output and creative innovation.
Studying a selection of his fiction, we will consider a wide variety of interpretations, in the light of the most current literary criticism of Dickens's works. We will analyse Dickens’s texts in terms of narrative method, genre, characterisation, imagery and book history and – in the process – we will examine how the novels respond to, or challenge, significant aspects of Victorian culture and society such as class, gender, family, nation, childhood, the city, empire, industrialisation, and modernity.
The module raises students' awareness of contemporary issues in postcolonial writing, and the debates around them. This includes a selection of important postcolonial texts (which often happen to be major contemporary writing in English) and studies their narrative practice and their reading of contemporary culture. It focuses on issues such as the construction of historical narratives of nation, on identity and gender in the aftermath of globalisation and 'diaspora’, and on the problems associated with creating a discourse about these texts.
The module is structured around poetry and fiction produced in New York since the Second World War. The emphasis is on New York's experimental and avant-garde traditions, and one organising principle is the inter-connectedness of the arts in New York. The module introduces students to some of the main areas of culture in the city, from the New York school of poetry through Abstract Expressionism, early Punk and on to post-modern fiction. Writers to be studied will include John Cage, Barbara Guest, William Burroughs, John Ashbery, Patti Smith and Paul Auster.
This module explores the eighteenth century fascination with bodies and the truths (or lies) bodies were supposed to reveal. Our focus will be on the ways in which the body is read and constructed in eighteenth-century literature and how these readings and constructions reflect various concerns about class, race, gender and sexuality. Efforts to regulate the body (particularly the female, plebeian and racialised body) became the focus of many reformers and philanthropists in the period who sought to recuperate the productive (and reproductive) labour of idle or transgressive bodies to serve the nation's moral and financial economies. Other writers, however, emphasised the body's potential to work against social and cultural norms, focusing on events such as the masquerade, in which women dressed as men and aristocrat’s as chimney sweeps.
Through the course of this module we will examine a range of literary representations of the body which seek both the control the body and to celebrate its disruptive potential. We will read texts from a variety of genres including medical literature, misogynist satire, sentimental novels, popular fiction, travel writing and pornography. Primary texts will be read alongside recent critical work by Thomas Lacquer, Michel Foucault, Roy Porter, and Peter Stallybrass and Allon White, which illuminate the ideological stakes writers played for when writing about the body. Topics for discussion will include disability and deformity, race, the sentimental body, dress and the body, the body as text and the relationship between the body and the body politic. The primary focus of this option will be literature, but we will also examine visual representations of the body in caricature and satire as well as in the portraiture.
While the so-called 'Brontë myth' remains potent in popular culture today, the lives-and-works model associated with it continues to encourage readers to seek partially concealed Brontë sisters in their fictions. Beginning and ending with the problematic of mythmaking – its origins in Gaskell’s Life of Charlotte Brontë and its subsequent perpetuation in film and other rewritings - this module will restore attention to the rich literary contribution made by the sisters through an intensive focus on their novels and some poetry in the context of Victorian debates about gender and the woman question. Situating the Brontë myth in relation to other forms of mythmaking in the period (for example, ideologies of class, gender and empire), it will consider a small selection of film adaptations and go on to examine the Brontës’s experiments with narrative voice and form, their variations upon the novel of education, the tensions between romance and realism in their writing and their engagement with the political, economic and social conditions of women in mid-Victorian culture.
Much Irish writing in the 20th and 21st centuries has been torn between tradition and innovation, between the need to define a national identity in opposition to Britain and the desire to transcend national boundaries and embrace a cosmopolitan modernity. With four nobel laureates in the 20th century (Yeats, Shaw, Beckett, Heaney), modern Irish literature has gained international recognition. In recent years, Irish Literature has undergone surprising changes in theme and content, moving from the insularity of parochialism to the emergence of the 'Global Irish novel". The charting of this development will provide an important framework for the discussion in this module of recurrent issues in Irish writing, such as history, cultural memory, violence and society, queer sexualities and gender relations, national and cultural identities, and the negotiation of what the historian Roy Foster has called the 'varieties of Irishness'. The module will consider a broad variety of Irish writing from 1975 to 2014: sampling significant developments in poetry, drama and prose.
This module explores the intersections between nation, narration and globalisation in the twentieth and twenty-first century novel. It will focus this exploration through textual representations of 'the stranger', a figure theorised since the beginning of the twentieth century as symptomatic of modernity in European cultures, and more recently by postcolonial critics as the paradigm through which the effects of globalisation are 'encountered' in contemporary ‘multicultural’ national and transnational spaces. Students will be encouraged to analyse the historical and conceptual relations between novel and nation and the particular ways in which the body of ‘the stranger’ has been reified through them. At the same time, they will be invited to consider ‘the stranger’ as a disorientating embodiment of distance and proximity, and to evaluate how this dynamic constructs and deconstructs the form and boundaries of the novel as a genre, and the surrounding familial, national and racial paradigms of belonging. Through discussions of the theoretical work of writers such as Georg Simmel, Freud, Fanon, Edward Said, Judith Butler, Zygmunt Bauman, and Homi Bhabha, students will be asked especially to consider the mutual effects of estrangement across gendered, racial, and colonial divides. The broad aims of the course are to problematise ‘the stranger’ as a literary means of orientating the individual and the nation; to situate the twentieth and twenty-first century novel as a symptomatic site for ‘strange encounters’; and to understand the extent to which it poses ‘strangeness’ and ‘homeliness’ as inseparable, necessary and possible acts of narration.
Beginning in Harlem in the 1920s and ending in Vancouver at the turn of the 21st century the module will follow a chronological and geographical route from South to North and East to West, exploring a diverse range of literary fiction and poetry that fuses urban black experience and a history of migration. Drawing on material from the US, Canada, and the Caribbean, we will spend time analysing the representation of black identity and experience, aesthetics, and the ethics/politics of literary production. Considering both the material conditions and intellectual challenges faced by different communities, we will examine a rich cultural matrix, from soulful rural folk culture to hard-edged urban cynicism, from the collage and blues aesthetics of the Harlem Renaissance, to the hip-hop vernacular of Vancouver's southwest side.
This module explores the Gothic from its eighteenth-century origins to its present-day incarnations, examining in particular the conventions that have allowed this diverse and evolving genre to remain at once relevant and recognisable. The course focuses on the elements of terror, hauntings and transgressions and how these conventions are deployed and reworked by writers in key literary and historical moments in the genre's development, such as at the end of the end of the eighteenth century, the fin de siècle, post-war America and the millennium. It asks students to consider the Gothic within the social, political and cultural contexts that inform the novel’s various concerns about gender, sexuality, race, class and the law. There will be a strong emphasis on examining and exploring the theoretical discourses underpinning the shifts and developments in the major critical debates and trends. Students will be encouraged to relate textual and critical analysis to topics such as aesthetics, popular culture and literature, religion, social and political history as well as contemporary concerns such as marginalization, queer identity, the body and immigration. The module will demonstrate the ongoing significance of the Gothic as an experimental and evolving form that functions as a vehicle for political and social critiques and, as such, relates to concerns central to the study of undergraduate English and American literature.
This module provides students with an opportunity to explore literature written by, for and about medieval women. It will consider women as writers, readers and the subjects of literature; as the consumers, compilers and scribes of books; and as the protagonists and antagonists in a variety of literary and artistic forms produced in England and Europe during late-medieval period. In the course of the module, we will explore how literature reflected, and helped to construct and constrain, women's lives, bodies, sexualities, identities and experiences, and the avenues through which they expressed their thoughts, desires and fears. By examining a range of material, including lyrics and romances, devotional manuals, saints lives, plays, letters, conduct books, sculptures, iconography and the everyday objects owned by women, we will encounter, for example: women as they were and how they were supposed to be; female friendship and same-sex desire; women’s diverse roles in society and in the home; how their bodies and relationships were used in polemic and political discourse; their influence on prominent male writers of the period; and the construction and erasure of late-medieval women’s voices in the historiography of later ages. The specific topics, materials and the date range covered by the module may alter from year to year to reflect teaching staff’s specialisms and interests.
"The empires of our time were short-lived, but they have altered the world forever; their passing away is their least significant feature" (V.S. Naipaul).
British colonialism changed the world, but it also changed Britain. Since the period known as the 'end of empire' in the 1950s and 60s, Britain has grappled with its loss of imperial power, a loss that has informed contemporary debates about immigration, multiculturalism, and nationalism. This module explores how writers have represented the consequences of imperial decline for British society and culture. Beginning in the midst of the 'end of empire' and ending in the world in which we find ourselves today, we'll explore how some of the core concerns of contemporary Britain are best understood in terms of post-imperiality. These concerns include racism towards migrants and refugees, nostalgia for a romanticised imperial past, and the re-emergence of colonial discourse in debates about the ‘War on Terror’. Alongside these, we'll discover how literature can enable an investment in new forms of community and identity. Many of the writers on this module bring the category of ‘British’ into crisis, and in doing so, enunciate new forms of commonality that actively reject the harmful and exclusionary imperial myths about racial and cultural difference.
This module offers students the opportunity to read and analyse Shakespeare's earliest extant plays and poems and to consider the issue of 'early’ writing and style. This module will consider the theatrical, social, historical, and material contexts for the first plays Shakespeare wrote when he migrated from Stratford-upon-Avon to East London. In the course of the module, we will look specifically at Shakespeare’s practices of co-authorship with other dramatists in his early career, including Christopher Marlowe, George Peele, and Thomas Nashe. We will also consider such issues as performance spaces, company involvement, touring, patronage, and poetic ambition. Students will have the opportunity to read across genre and form, including canonical plays as The Taming of the Shrew and Richard III, and less often studied works such as Edward III and the plague narrative poems.
In his 1980 essay, 'The Mathematics of Rimbaud', the poet, performer, and painter Allen Fisher observed that – as a consequence of the innovations in artistic practice throughout the 20th century – the idea of "art as objects and poetry as poems" had gradually lost its credibility. In stating this, Fisher not only articulated a compelling summary of the ways in which the study and practice of poetry and art over the last fifty years have consistently challenged the idea that these works are somehow enclosed, autonomous, or didactic units of meaning. He also indicated that sometimes poetry goes beyond text. Whether we think of the developments in the fields of concrete and visual poetry; poetry’s interaction with larger art installations; sound poetry; poetry in performance; or any combination of these different practices, contemporary poetry often invites us to think of ‘poems’ as something more than just words printed on a page.
In this module, you will have the opportunity to explore and engage with a diverse range of poetry beyond text, both on a creative and critical level. The curriculum will cover topics and themes including performance poetry (as well as poetry and performance more broadly), verbal artefacts, and intersections between poetry and sonic, visual and digital arts. Through both theory and practice, including regular creative exercises, the module offers you the opportunity to engage with these interdisciplinary poetry practices from both creative and critical perspectives. The assessment methods will also allow you the opportunity to pursue independent research projects that can be either creative or critical, or a combination of the two. Throughout, our studies will help to further enhance your understanding of poetry as a kinetic and mutable form of art.
This module provides an opportunity for students to think about the role of literature, writing, and reading in community settings and develop and implement their own community engagement project. Students will plan and deliver a project which will take place in a community setting. Examples include, but are not limited to, a creative writing workshop with a local charity; a poetry walk in collaboration with an arts organisation; a reading group with a specific community. The class based activities will introduce students to key concepts in community engagement, both theoretical and practical; interrogate the ethics and politics of literature and/or writing outside of a university context; support students in thinking creatively when planning and developing a community based initiative; enable students to reflect critically on their own learning and evaluate the successes and failures of literary based community projects, including their own.
Thomas Hardy is one of the most important writers of the last two hundred years. Born into a family that was somewhere below working class, he went on to become one of the most articulate explorers of human emotion and circumstance, whose abilities to describe the natural world are unmatched by any of his peers. In later life, he had achieved so much in the world of letters that even royalty visited him at his home. In his early sixties, he retired from novel-writing and decided to have a go at publishing poetry, unaware that he would go on to have an equally long career as a poet and would become one of the preeminent writers of verse in the twentieth century.
In this module, you will discover why Hardy persists in being one of Britain's most important, modern and relevant writers. It will explore the range of Hardy's work including his novels, some short fiction poetry, prose, and autobiography, in the light of specifically nineteenth-century concerns such as the emergence of modernity, the impact of science, the beginnings of modernism, and the shift from the rural to the urban. Themes to be explored will include Hardy’s changing position as an author throughout his career; his development of forms of narrative; his views on history and philosophy; the representation of class; anxieties about social, cultural and economic change; the status of the human and the animal; his interest in evolutionary theory and its widespread effect; and finally, his career and position as a twentieth-century poet.
What is at stake when artists and writers decide to take the "real world" as the subject of their art? In the later nineteenth century, to depict “reality” in fiction and art became a radical act of social protest and critique. In an endeavour to locate the “truth” behind American society, realists moved well beyond pre-existing societal norms to investigate the squalid living conditions of immigrants in the New York slums, participate in Native American religious ceremonies, and probe the psychosexual neuroses of the middle classes. This module explores the American “ideology of realism” (Michael Elliot) in the late nineteenth- and early- twentieth centuries as expressed in a variety of forms and genres, including: the novel, painting, anthropology and photography. We will discuss the reasons behind the emergence of realism in the later nineteenth century, how it interacted with the new “mass culture”, whether it critiqued or reinforced dominant racial, sexual, ethnic and class-based prejudices, and, finally, why it declined in the twentieth century as the favoured aesthetic of the American avant-garde. On this module we will move far beyond seeing realism as merely a tame, neutral artistic style to investigate how it pointed to a radical “way of seeing” the nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century world.
This module examines the development of Virginia Woolf's writing across the span of her life. It explores Woolf's most important modernist texts alongside some of her lesser-known writings, and considers a range of literary genres she wrote in (novels, essays, short stories, auto/biography). As well as paying close attention to the distinct style of modernist literature, there will be consideration of various historical, cultural, philosophical, political and artistic contexts that influenced, and were influenced by, Woolf’s writing. Students will be introduced to the key critical debates on Woolf, featuring discussion of topics as diverse as feminism, visual art, the everyday, war, sexuality, gender, class, empire, science, nature and animality. With Woolf as its central focus, this module therefore seeks to understand the lasting significance of modernist literature.
What is the relationship between 'animal' and ‘human’, and how is this explored through writing? This module seeks to examine creaturely relations by focusing on literature from the eighteenth century up to the present, alongside key theoretical and contextual material that engages with questions concerning animality and humanity. We will focus on how writers imagine distinct animal worlds as well as how they understand the role of animals in human cultures. A range of novels, short stories and poems will raise questions about how we look at, think with, and try to give voice to animals, and topics covered will include ‘Becoming Animal’, ‘Animal Autobiography’, ‘Observing Animals’, ‘Colonial Creatures’, ‘Animal Experiments’, ‘Taming and Training’, and ‘Questions for Animals’. Students taking this module will gain a firm grounding in the diverse critical field known as ‘animal studies’, whilst also considering the broader cultural, philosophical and ethical implications of how we think about the relationship between humans and animals.
The New Woman, a controversial figure who became prominent in British literature in the late nineteenth century, challenged traditional views of femininity and represented a more radical understanding of women's nature and role in society. She was associated with a range of unconventional behaviour – from smoking and bicycle-riding to sexuality outside marriage and political activism. This module will examine some of the key literary texts identified with the New Woman phenomenon including women’s journalism in the period. The module’s reading will be organised around central thematic concerns such as: sexuality and motherhood; suffrage and politics; career and creativity. We will consider to what extent the New Woman was a media construction or whether the term reflected the lives of progressive women in the period. This module will also examine how the New Woman became a global phenomenon, beginning with the plays of Henrik Ibsen, before spreading to literature, journalism, and political essays produced around the world by writers from Britain (Mathilde Blind, Mona Caird, Margaret Harkness, George Gissing, Amy Levy, Evelyn Sharp, and Augusta Webster), America (Charlotte Perkins Gilman), Australia (George Egerton), India (Sarojini Naidu), New Zealand (Katherine Mansfield), and South Africa (Olive Schreiner). The module will also consider the legacy of the New Woman in a neo-Victorian novel, Sarah Waters’s Tipping the Velvet (1998).
The module examines some key texts in the theory and literary presentation of utopia. In the first part of the module we will examine classic early utopian texts (Plato, More) and will set these in the context of the modern theory of historical progress (Hegel) the failure of that progress to materialise (Agamben) and the nature of hope for the future (Bloch). In the second part of the module, we will examine modern classics which look at the failure of the communist utopia (Zamyatin, Huxley, Orwell) and at later texts which revived the genre of utopia (LeGuin, Atwood).
This module offers students a synoptic perspective on Marxist cultural criticism from the mid-nineteenth century to the present day in Europe, Russia and North America. It begins with an analysis of a selection from Marx’s own writings, with the aim of introducing key terms, such as “alienation,” “ideology,” and “dialectic.” Students’ understanding of these terms and their critical uses for literary and cultural studies will develop during the course of the module, as they encounter a range of important Marxist thinkers and their writings.
Throughout the module students will be invited to interrogate and transgress the boundaries separating literary from critical texts, and theory from practice. They will be invited to consider creative practice and Marxist criticism in dialogue with one another at particular historical moments. Although anchored in the literary and the textual, the module will also offer opportunities to think critically about the term “culture” itself in its broadest senses, encompassing a range of aesthetic and social practices, such as sport and music. Progressing through the great class conflicts of the early twentieth century, the Frankfurt School, New Left and anti-racist decolonization movements of the postwar period, up to the contemporary neoliberal moment, the module aims finally to offer students a set of tools with which to understand their own cultural encounters in the present as well as to reconfigure and re-evaluate the cultural knowledge they have accumulated in stages one and two of their degree programmes.
The 2021/22 annual tuition fees for this programme are:
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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.*
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Fees for Home undergraduates are £1,385.
Fees for Home undergraduates are £1,385.
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Teaching and assessment can vary between modules. All modules are taught by weekly seminars. In addition to seminars, the majority of literature modules also include a weekly lecture.
Assessment at Stage 1 and 2 is by a mixture of coursework and examination. Some modules may include an optional practical element.
Assessment at Stage 3 is by coursework only and may include an optional Dissertation.
Attendance at seminars is required, and for the majority of modules, you are assessed on your seminar contribution/performance.
For a student studying full time, each academic year of the programme will comprise 1200 learning hours which include both direct contact hours and private study hours. The precise breakdown of hours will be subject dependent and will vary according to modules. Please refer to the individual module details under Course Structure.
Methods of assessment will vary according to subject specialism and individual modules. Please refer to the individual module details under Course Structure.
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