What you will study
This masters-level module is divided into two broad sections. In the first and longer section you'll be exploring five clusters of major literary texts, from the ancient past right up to the present. These clusters have been chosen to exemplify some of the complex and fascinating ways in which certain literary themes, personae or narratives have circulated within and across widely differing contexts and periods. You'll be considering, for example, the phenomenon of rewrites and adaptations of literary texts in different genres, languages and media. This will include study not only of their critical reception, but of their material production, distribution and dissemination. You'll be encouraged to bring a range of relevant theoretical approaches to literary texts and become aware of the ways in which these approaches themselves have histories, and are practised within institutional frameworks.
The second and shorter section of the module continues the exploration of literary circulations across boundaries, and the adaptation and recreation of texts in a range of different media. Its main focus, however, is on issues of literary history and book history, with reference to two very different literary texts: Byron’s satirical poem Don Juan and Kipling’s novel Kim. These will be used to open up discussion of the ways in which our understanding of literary texts can be deepened by reference to the specific historical frameworks and contexts within which they are produced and consumed, and to explore the concepts, methodologies and practices of book history, and how this relates to our study of literature.
The overall aims of the module are to provide you with a rich and exciting experience of higher level literary study while at the same time developing your independent skills in literary research. The study materials provide guided reading to a wide range of critical approaches. Assignments also cover a wide range of topics and allow you to focus on and develop particular critical and theoretical interests, (for example in post-colonial theory, feminist theory, literary and book history, or interdisciplinary research).
The module as a whole will provide you with opportunities to develop the analytical and research skills required for study at this level, with an increasing emphasis on your individual research as the module progresses. You'll need to have successfully completed this module as it prepares you to undertake the dissertation module, MA English part 2 (A816) for which you'll choose, in consultation with your tutor, a topic of your own devising, so as to pursue your own particular critical and theoretical interests, building on the study areas and approaches that you explored.
The module structure, with the texts to be studied, is as follows:
Jean Anouilh, Antigone
Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre
Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea
William Shakespeare, Coriolanus
Bertholt Brecht, Coriolan
Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe
J.M. Coetzee, Foe and Dusklands
Genesis Chapters 1–3
John Milton, Paradise Lost
William Blake, Milton
Lord Byron, Don Juan
Rudyard Kipling, Kim