BA English Literature

First year modules for 2020-21

Semester 1

Core modules:

Foundations of English Studies 

This module will enable you to make a confident transition to university study of English, by equipping you with the intellectual resources for learning at degree level.

You'll develop core academic skills, including an understanding of: academic writing, participatory study and learning, and independent research. You'll also be introduced to the history and characteristics of English studies as a discipline, and examine fundamental questions, concepts and practices that underpin the interpretation of texts.

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Poetry: Reading & Interpretation

To read poetry is to go back to what's elemental in literature - that is, both to the earliest form of literature, and also to what is fundamental and distinct about literature as a medium. This module aims to immerse you in, and enchant you with, the multiple elements of poetry. Working to define essential aspects of poetic form such as rhythm, rhyme, metre, language, sound and poetic figures, we will help to sharpen your interpretative technique in order to understand the complex and fascinating relation between form and content in poetry. 

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Optional modules:

Modern Fictions in English

Reflecting the global expanse of literatures in English, this module invites you to consider a rich array of modern narrative forms. Narrative responses to urgent questions of modern life, from ecological crisis to empire, will be considered as we reflect on storytelling’s power to divide, destroy and erase, as well as its capacity to resist, transform, and create. Through this course of careful reading and discussion, you will attain a clear view of some of the most important transformations of fiction in English since 1900.

The Creative Essay

The historic art of essay writing is flourishing in the internet age. Long understood as a creative practice—in 1712 Joseph Addison wrote of their “wildness,” likening them to “a wood that abounds with a great many noble objects”—writers of the twenty-first century, from Zadie Smith to Benjamin Myers, continue to find in this old tradition a conducive space for creative, critical thought.

In this module we study leading examples from the long English history of this form as well as some recent responses essayists have made to the bewildering tensions of modern life. 20% presentation, 80% essay: You can write about any topic of your choice, from public transport announcements to capitalism’s erosion of sleep, but your account must be lucid and enjoyable and hold the interest of your general reader.

or choose from a wide range of Discovery modules.

Semester 2

Core modules:

Prose: Reading & Interpretation

This module aims to lay a solid foundation for the study of English at university level through the analysis of a number of different prose texts. It explores the mechanics of prose writing and considers a range of critical and theoretical approaches to literature.

By the end of the module, you will have developed as a reader and as a writer, with improved close reading skills, a greater understanding of critical tools and terminology, and an awareness of some of the conceptual issues raised by interpreting prose in English.

Topics to be examined will include genre; narrative form; writing and subjectivity; race and nation; literature and politics; gender difference; and authorship.


Optional modules:

Drama: Reading and Interpretation

On completion of this module, you'll be able to read dramatic texts with an awareness of historical, social and intellectual contexts. You'll develop the fundamental critical skills and terminologies required to produce close textual readings of drama and be familiar with a range of critical and theoretical approaches to dramatic works, and to literature and culture more generally.

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Race, Writing and Decolonisation

Current hashtag movements from #BlackLivesMatter to #WhyisMyCurriculumWhite to #FeesMustFall suggest that the project of racial decolonisation is far from over.

Focusing on African-American, South African, Caribbean and Black British writing, this module offers the chance to look at some of the most explosive black writing on race and how it informs our current ‘decolonial’ moment.

You will explore the writing that helped dismantle the British Empire, usher in the civil rights era in the US, and bring an end to apartheid in South Africa, through to contemporary writing that confronts ongoing structures of racism. The question of exactly what constitutes blackness and black writing will be at the heart of our discussions.

Narratives of Witchcraft and Magic

Before Cornelius Fudge and the Ministry of Magic; this module traces the development of the concept of the witch in medieval European thought and literature and into the early modern period, for example in Shakespeare’s plays.

The module examines relationships between magic, health, healing, Christianity, and pre-Christian traditions, as well as the development in Europe of a culture of persecution of witchcraft, including the relationships between witchcraft prosecution and xenophobia, misogyny, and racism.

or choose from a wide range of Discovery modules.



Note: Typical modules/components; may change from time to time.