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English Literature

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English Literature

MA
  • Option 1 year full time or 2 years part time
  • Year of entry 2021
  • Campus Egham

The course

If you want to undertake further English literature study, but don't want to specialise in any one area, MA English Literature may be the perfect course for you. With a wide range of expertise in the department, you have the option to choose units from the MAs in Medieval Studies, Shakespeare, Victorian Literature, Art and Culture and specialist options in Modernism and Contemporary Literature. The course is ideal if you are interested in more than one period of English literature, or if you want to combine or juxtapose the literatures and genres of different periods.

You'll choose the equivalent of two whole modules from across the four MA literature programmes and carry out your own research, writing a 12,000-15,000 word dissertation.

You will be taught by highly regarded scholars, writers and critics who are engaged in research, writing ground-breaking books, talking to or writing in the national media, and providing expert advice to organisations including the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Department for Education and other national and international bodies.

You may study this course full-time for one year or part-time over two years.

For some of you, the shift to online learning will be unfamiliar, but the department of English has been providing resources and learning support online for some time through TeacherHub>English. Primarily aimed at teachers of English Literature at KS5, TeacherHub>English also provides an insight into our MAs by introducing you to our staff and to a range of materials which can support your studies. On our teaching resources page, you will find colleagues introducing ways of studying key English texts. We have also rounded up a range of the best freely available resources to support your studies through the Covid-19 crisis.

Core Modules

  • This will be a piece of original written work, of between 12,000 and 15,000 words. The topic of the dissertation will be agreed between you and whichever member of staff is allotted a supervisor and is normally required to be submitted by the beginning of September in the year of the completion of the programme.

Optional Modules

There are a number of optional course modules available during your degree studies. The following is a selection of optional course modules that are likely to be available. Please note that although the College will keep changes to a minimum, new modules may be offered or existing modules may be withdrawn, for example, in response to a change in staff. Applicants will be informed if any significant changes need to be made.

  • This module is designed to introduce you to a number of key topics related to the methods of postgraduate research, and to some of the resources and materials that will be useful to your studies.

  • The course aims to provide an introduction to some of the key texts in modernist and contemporary writing. It seeks to provide students with the critical contexts necessary to engage with the critical debates surrounding these respective areas. It will offer an introduction to the relevant social and historical contexts surrounding the production of literary works during the periods covered. It will familiarise students with key terms such as modernism, postmodernism and late modernism. During the latter part of the course students will be encouraged to compare different works, and the critical debates surrounding them, across historical time frames.

  • This module aims to engage you in a sustained, intensive study of Shakespeare’s supreme tragic masterpiece, the controversies it has provoked, and the diverse ways in which it has been adapted and transformed by poets, dramatists, novelists, and by film and theatre directors, since Shakespeare’s time. You will begin with a detailed discussion of the play itself before turning to critical debate and exploring the creative impact of King Lear on later poetry, drama and fiction. The second term is devoted to studying the creative response to King Lear in the theatre and the cinema, tracking its performance history on stage and screen through in-depth analysis of landmark productions and film adaptations.

  • This module provides a point of coherence for the interdisciplinary study of Victorian Culture. You will be introduced to the theories and methods of a variety of humanities disciplines through the medium of an in-depth study of the literature, history, geography, and visual culture of nineteenth-century London. You will be asked to reflect critically on your own approach to the material studied, through engagement with both primary materials and a variety of recent secondary sources.

  • This module aims to provide an advanced understanding of the complex field of aestheticism in nineteenth-century literature and culture, with particular attention to concepts of ‘decadence’ and the relationship between the written word and the visual arts. Classes cover key theoretical and critical interventions into nineteenth-century aesthetic debates, from Ruskin and Pater through to Oscar Wilde and selected women writers of the 1880s and 1890s. 

  • This module aims to equip you with a systematic understanding of the scope and range of the mid nineteenth-century novel in the context of Victorian publishing, reading and critical practices. In the first half, you will read three Dickens novels in depth, and while in the second half you will concentrate on theories of realism and the 19th Century novel. The module seeks to integrate reflections on recent critical approaches to the texts in order to provide you with a comprehensive understanding of the critical techniques and discourses that will be applicable to your own advanced scholarship in the assessed essay and final dissertation.

  • This module aims to equip you with a systematic understanding of the scope and range of the Pre-Raphaelite Movement in the context of Victorian art criticism, attitudes to gender and poetics. The first five-week block concentrates on poetry and the visual arts in the first decade of the movement; the second five-week block deals with the second generation of Pre-Raphaelites and their links with Aestheticism.

  • This interdisciplinary module explores the traditions and forms and varieties of medieval story-telling. You will read texts in Old and Middle English, French, Latin and Italian in translation. You will explore various narrative genres, such as epic, chronicle, romance, and fabliau, and two of the major tale collections of the period, the Decameron and the Canterbury Tales.

  • This module examines the development of Arthurian literature and legend across four centuries and three languages. Beginning with Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History of the Kings of Britain, it focuses on the different ways in which Arthur’s reign was represented and understood in the Middle Ages.

Students on the MA in English Literature choose the equivalent of two whole courses from across the four MA programmes and write a 12,000-15,000 word dissertation, submitted early in the September of the year following their enrolment on the MA.

The courses chosen may be made up of combination of full and half-units (one 'course' equals one full-unit, or two half-units). Some of the available MA programmes are comprised entirely of full-units, as is the case with the MA in Shakespeare, and some of half -units, as is the case with the MA in Victorian Literature, Art and Culture. In addition, all students are registered for the compulsory unassessed course 'Methods and Materials of Research'. 

The MA may be taken on a full-time, as a one year basis, or part-time, over two years; in the latter case, the dissertation would be written in the second year of study.

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