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Classical Studies and Comparative Literature and Culture

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Classical Studies and Comparative Literature and Culture

BA
  • UCAS code Q8Q2
  • Option 3 years full time
  • Year of entry 2021

The course

Studying a Joint Honours degree in Classical Studies and Comparative Literature and Culture allows you to examine both ancient and modern culture through a variety of texts and media, all taught using their modern English translations.

If you are captivated by classical literature and philosophy and are keen to understand more about ancient history and classical archaeology, Classical Studies is ideal.

Classical Studies offers a great deal of choice in subjects related to the ancient world, immersing you in lots of aspects of ancient Greece and Rome – its literature, history, philosophy and archaeology – even its languages; Greek and Latin can be studied at whatever level you’re at and for one, two or three years.

As a student of Classical Studies you will be part of our Classics Department, where the quality of research that informs our teaching and a friendly, individual approach which shapes the way we guide our students combine to create an unbeaten academic experience.

Comparative Literature and Culture (CLC) offers you the opportunity to study global literature as well as to explore film, philosophy and visual arts. CLC combines a fascinating breadth of material with a focus on contexts – places, periods, and genres – to explore how key cultural shifts transform how we see, represent, and make sense of our changing world. CLC at Royal Holloway is a unique and intellectually stimulating degree which will develop you as a culturally-aware, creative and adaptable thinker.

We’ve developed this degree so that you can tailor it to suit your own evolving interests, choosing from our exceptionally wide range of fascinating options, ranging across continents and centuries, from antiquity to the present day, novels and poetry to philosophy, cinema and art. We will read, watch, and compare from Ancient Greece to contemporary New York, from Cuba to Korea, from epics to crime fiction, and from tragedy to the avant-garde. CLC enables you to study texts originally written in many languages, all translated into in English.

Our flexible degree programmes enable you to apply to take a Placement Year, which can be spent studying abroad, working or carrying out voluntary work. You can even do all three if you want to (minimum of three months each)! To recognise the importance of this additional skills development and university experience, your Placement Year will be formally recognised on your degree certificate and will contribute to your overall result. Please note conditions may apply if your degree already includes an integrated year out, please contact the Careers & Employability Service for more information. Find out more

  • Optional language modules in Greek or Latin.
  • Analyse the cultural, social and political contexts of the ancient world.
  • Gain global cultural awareness and an internationally prestigious degree.
  • Become a creative, flexible and critical thinker.
  • Shape your programme according to your own interests.

Core Modules

Year 1
  • This module introduces students to the theories and practices of textual analysis and comparative textual analysis as well as to the major debates about theories and practices of comparative literature in a transnational context. Students will read a small number of core literary texts - influential within comparatism and diverse in cultural, temporal and linguistic origin - alongside a range of historically, geographically, culturally, generically and stylistically varied textual extracts. The core literary texts will be read in their entirety, with particular attention to: the construction and interpretation of genre; transnationalism and translation; cultural and historical context; and questions of authorship, influence and canonicity.

  • This module introduces students to a range of literary and filmic texts depicting different aspects of the city. The focus on a common thematic ground allows students to develop skills of comparison and analysis, while also exposing them to, and encouraging them to reflect on, wider questions of urban space, public and private spheres, and alterity. The works to be studied on the city explicitly engage with three periods and aspects of the modern city: early twentieth-century modernity, urban development and planning, modernist architecture; post-war industrialisation and urbanisation; and the contemporary transnational metropolis and multiculturalism. In all the periods, the focus will be on how the films articulate the following themes: money/poverty, technology, migration, crime, gender and sexuality.

Year 2
  • Comparing short stories from different periods and geographical areas is a great way of exploring how literature evolves structurally and thematically in response to different ideas and contexts. In this module we read short stories – and look at examples of visual art - from the eighteenth century to the present day to discover what structural and symbolic elements characterize major movements of Western art including the Enlightenment, Romanticism, Realism, Modernism and Postmodernism. All non-English-language texts are in English translation. These are explored both individually and in comparison, developing skills in close reading and comparative critical analysis and the ability to recognize and contrast different features of fiction and to situate evolving literary aesthetics in their historical context.

  • This module provides an account of some of the major theoretical trends and currents which inform our thinking and practice of Comparative Literature and Culture. Reading canonical and contemporary texts alongside each other, students will ask questions such as: How should we understand and respond to art in the twenty-first century? Who counts as a subject and how should we understand racial, sexual and species difference? And, how should we conceptualise culture in a globalised world?

You will take two from the following:
  • The module is divided into two parts, the first exploring crucial issues of filmmaking, film studies and the ‘transnational’ from the perspective of largely contemporary Latin American cinema, the second focusing on a range of European films from the 1970s to the present. The introductory two weeks of the module will introduce students to these concerns; the final two weeks of the module will bring both parts together and establish some conclusions (for example, what, if anything, constitutes a ‘European’ or ‘Latin American’ or ‘transnational’ film).

  • This module involves an examination of gender as it is expressed, maintained, or challenged by clothing. It investigates a variety of Anglophone, Francophone, and German-language twentieth-century texts, including novels, fine art, and film, in which clothing and gender are closely linked. The module introduces a range of experimental and challenging texts, encouraging critical and comparative thinking about the place of fashion and clothing in culture and society.

  • This module will focus on six novels dealing with the theme of transgression. It will also look at the genre of the novel and at whether the novels studied transgress its formal parameters. The module will be comparative in focus, studying the set texts not only individually, but also looking at thematic and formal convergences and divergences between them. The books to be studied will be: DH Lawrence, Lady Chatterley’s Lover; Alain Robbe-Grillet, La Jalousie/Jealousy; Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita; Esther Tusquets, Stranded; Emile Zola, Thérèse Raquin; Juan Rulfo, ‘Talpa’.

  • Visual Arts II: Genre and Movements
  • This module introduces students to a range of important texts and authors, both canonical and non-canonical, from early modern Spain and France. Yet it does so through a selection of outsider figures – characters whose aberrant or idiosyncratic identity, outlook, or behaviour sets them at odds with their society. The characters on this module thus challenge some of society’s most deeply entrenched but often unwritten codes – of reason, gender, decorum, sexuality, class, and religion – and can thus offer important insights into the workings and values of the society whose norms they transgress. As we shall see, though, the treatment of such figures can vary widely. Whereas the outsider’s departure from the norm is often apparently ridiculed or censured, it can sometimes be celebrated or rehabilitated – whether by other characters within the fiction or by the literary work itself. Indeed, the period’s fascination with marginal or transgressive characters and behaviour betrays throughout a deep unease about the validity of its own norms and standards.

Year 3. You will take two from the following:
  • The module examines in depth, and in relation to each other, artistic and literary movements prevalent in late-nineteenth and early-twentieth-century Italy and France. On this module you will analyse the contribution of the Decadentists and Symbolists, Futurists and Cubists to a variety of artistic disciplines in France, Italy and Europe.

  • The Gothic Mode in Spanish and English Fiction
  • Trends in Contemporary Theory
  • This module explores cinematic representations of the transnational encounter between people, cultures and institutions interconnected by the forces of globalization. The topics covered range from (anti-)colonialism and revolution to neo-colonialism, postcoloniality and migration. Attention is paid to the ways in which the films deal with the themes of emancipation, hybridity, displacement, global capitalism and politics, and cosmopolitanism. The module covers the development of transnational cinema from its origins with Third Cinema and then goes on to explore postcolonial and migration cinema covering areas ranging from South America and Africa to Europe.

  • Postcolonial Literatures
  • In this module, we will examine representations of human and animal life in twenty-first century fiction and thought. We will consider the ways in which the human-animal relation informs ideas of human identity, and explore the different literary techniques employed to represent animal life. We will ask questions such as: what does it mean to be human? What is the difference between animals and humans? And how can we understand and represent animal experience?

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.

Year 1
  • In this module you will develop an understanding of Ancient Greek grammar and syntax and learn elementary vocabulary. You will acquire basic aptitude in reading Ancient Greek text (mostly adapted, with some possible original unadapted basic texts) and consider the relationship between Ancient Greek language and ancient Greek literature and culture.

  • In this module you will further your understanding of Greek grammar and syntax. You will look at Greek prose and/or verse texts, in unadapted original Greek, and learn how to accurately translate passages at sight.


  • In this module you will develop an understanding of a wide range of texts in ancient Greek. You will look at set texts in both prose and verse for translation, and complete grammar and syntax consolidation exercises. You will consider the literary and linguistic features of advanced Greek texts and examine features of grammar, syntax and style.

  • This module can be taken by anyone with less than a B in GCSE Latin.  If students have a B or better in Latin GCSE or equivalent, they should be looking at Intermediate Latin (unless it was a very long time ago). The module sets out to provide a basic training in the Latin language for those with little or no previous experience of Latin. The emphasis is on developing the skill of analysing the structure and meaning of Latin sentences, and on efficient use of the dictionary. Students will also gain familiarity with a range of literary and epigraphic texts in the original Latin.

  • A module intended to build on Beginner’s Latin or O-level/GCSE, extending the students' knowledge of Latin to the point where they are ready to read substantial texts.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of classical Latin and how to interpret Latin texts. You will study two set texts in Latin, one prose and one verse, focussing on translation, context and understanding of grammar. You will gain practice in unprepared translation of texts of similar genres to the prepared texts and will consider selected topics in Latin grammar and syntax.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of the framework of Greek literary history from Homer to Heliodorus. You will look at the chronology of major authors and works, and how they fit into larger patterns in the development of Greek culture and political history. You will examine ancient literary texts in translation, considering issues in key genres including epic, lyric, drama, oratory, philosophical writing, historiography, Hellenistic poetry, and the Greek novel.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of the history of Roman literature from its beginnings until the end of the Republic. You will look at the work of the major Republican Roman authors Plautus and Terence, Lucretius, Catullus and Cicero. You will consider the issues in the earlier history of Roman literature, including the relationship with Greek models and the question of Roman originality, literature and politics, the use of literature for scientific or philosophical exposition, and the development of narrative style ant attitudes to the Roman Republican past.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of the history of Roman literature in the early imperial period. You will look at the work of five authors selected from the Julio-Claudian period, considering the ways in which Roman literature responded to the new political conditions established by the Principate. You will develop your skills in interpretation, analysis and argument as applied both to detailed study of texts (in translation) and to more general issues.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of ancient philosophical ideas and the ways in which philosophical arguments are presented and analysed. You will look at the thought and significance of the principal ancient philosophers, from the Presocratics to Aristotle, and examine sample texts such as Plato's 'Laches' and the treatment of the virtue of courage in Aristotle, 'Nicomachean Ethics' 3.6-9.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of how classical Greek and Roman societies developed the concept and role of the individual as part of the wider community. You will look at Greek and Roman education, and how that encouraged the formation of ideal behaviour and identity. You will consider the role of rhetoric, and how competition was encouraged within these societies though literary and dramatic contests, sport, military life, and religion. You will examine how these ideas reflect the role of the individual in the community of the cosmos, and the place in society of 'others', including the lower classes, women, children, the elderly, and slaves.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of the Greek World in the Classical Period. You will look at the key events in Greek History from 580 to 323 BC and place these in their historical context. You will consider historical problems and critically examine information and accounts set out in the Greek sources as well as in the works of modern historians. You will analyse a range of sources materials, including inscription, historiography and oratory, and develop an awareness of potential bias in these.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of the development of Roman politics and society over the extended period of Roman history, from early Rome through to the emergence of the Medieval World. You will look at the chronology and development of Rome, examining key themes in the interpretation of particular periods of Roman history, including the rise and fall of the Republic and the Imperial Monarchy. You will consider the difficulties and methological issues in the interpretation of Roman Historiography and analyse a variety of theoretical approaches used by historians.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of how different classical disciplines interrelate. You will focus on specific academic skills such as avoiding plagiarism, approaching and evaluating a range of ancient evidence, using library and other resources, critically evaluating modern scholarship and theoretical approaches, and relating academic study to employability.

  • This is a survey module covering a large and disparate field. No previous knowledge is assumed: it will offer a basic introduction to the principles of classical archaeology and to the archaeological material of ancient Greece. The module will help you to place archaeological objects and contexts alongside literature and philosophy and to gain a more rounded understanding of how the Greeks thought about their world and the physical environment they created for themselves. The main aim of the module is to familiarise you with the material culture of the Greek civilisation from the Bronze Age to the Hellenistic period. We will examine the principal forms of Greek art and architecture, together with their stylistic development and social context. We will also consider developments in political organisation and religious practice, as well as evidence for everyday life. The module will introduce basic methodological concepts and theoretical approaches to the study of ancient Greek material culture.

  • This module studies the broad spectrum of archaeological evidence for the Roman world. It will provide an introduction to the main sources of archaeological evidence and key sites across the Roman world. It will offer a taste of how we can use the evidence they provide in the study of history, society and technology during the period c. 200 BC – c. AD 300. It aims to familiarize you with the principal forms and contexts in which art and architecture developed in the Roman world; to introduce you to the uses of material culture in studying history, i.e. to study the art and architecture of Rome as part of its history, social systems, culture, and economy; and to develop critical skills in visual analysis.

  • This module examines images of French society through a selection of key literary texts and concentrates on how questions of social change, social mobility, success and failure, ambition and honour, oppression and alienation have been portrayed. Delivered by the appropriate specialist in the School of Modern Languages, the classes will offer a taste of the literature of the relevant periods, along with a discussion of its distinguishing stylistic features, and an overview of its intellectual, social, and historical background. Terms that often confuse or put off students new to literature (such as Romanticism, Realism, or Existentialism) will be explained and briefly contextualised. By the end of the module, students will have acquired an insight into a range of representative texts from a variety of periods and an understanding of the ideas and social structures they portray.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of the medium of film as a means of both conveying and constructing history. You will look at the relationship between film and history, notably the representation of key historical moments in French history such as war. You will consider how national identity is created and sustained through the visual representation of history, exploring technique of textual analusis and personal judgement to critically examine a range of cinematic texts and genres including narrative fiction, documentary and propaganda.

  • The visual image has always played an important role in society, as a source of enjoyment and pleasure, and also as a means of communicating values, celebrating beauty, shaping thought and challenging assumptions. This module aims to develop understanding of the ways the visual image functions and the concepts and techniques needed to analyse it.

  • Passion and Betrayal on the Spanish Stage
  • Students on this module will be introduced to some of the most important literary, visual and cinematic works from twentieth century Latin America. The works from selected writers pertaining to the Latin American Literary Boom will feature on this module, as well as some of the Nobel Prize winning poets from Latin America. Students on this module will be provided with samples of the artistic wealth (both in styles and techniques) from artists across the Latin American continent. Attention will be paid to the question of identity as reflected in the cinemas of Cuba and Mexico; two of the most important film industries from Spanish speaking America.

  • The module provides a selective but wide-ranging introduction to culture in the Hispanic world from the 15th to the 21st century. It explores a broad range of cultural manifestations from different socio-historical contexts both independently and comparatively from a topic-based perspective. Materials may include plays, narratives, poems, paintings, sculptures, musical compositions and architectural works, while topics may be drawn from (but not be limited to) the following: ‘Discovery’, ‘Destruction’, ‘Subversion’, ‘Self-fashioning’, ‘Power’ and ‘the Body’.

  • The first term begins with an introduction to themes and ideas in the literature of the Middle Ages – autobiography, love, writers and readers – to provide a firm basis for the study of the three great writers of the Italian Middle Ages. The module then continues with a brief introduction to Dante’s writings, and a close, detailed reading of his earliest work, the Vita Nuova in which he tells the story of his love for Beatrice. In the second term the module covers a selection of the stories from Boccaccio’s most famous work, the Decameron, and a selection of the poems Petrarch wrote for his lady, Laura, which later inspired lyric poetry all over Europe. Visual and dramatic interpretations of the work of these three authors will also be included in the module.

  • Students will learn about the causes and consequence of the Fascist rule in Italy between 1922 and 1945, and study the political and cultural developments of the period. Topics include: ideas of Fascism, Futurism and Fascism, the Cult of Mussolini, and popular culture.

  • The module presents key developments in German history through the lens of literature and the visual arts, in a lively and accessible way. Students will gain an insight into German culture and history from the Middle Ages to the present, and acquire skills and knowledge that will serve them throughout their degree. Works by numerous writers and artists will feature.

  • This module will introduce students to key areas of interest in contemporary German Studies, including literature, film, and history.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of the key tenets of film theory and learn to apply these to a selection of important pre- and post-war European and international films. You will look at aspects of film style, genre and national and international contexts.You will consider canonical works from a century of cinema history by filmmakers such as Joseph von Sternberg, Alfred Hitchcock and Pedro Almodovar, and examine significant examples of technique and style.

  • The purpose of this module is to provide students with an introduction to the early phase of film history. Broadly speaking, the module will be concerned with the period between 1895 and the early 1930s, from the invention of motion pictures to the establishment of sound cinema. During this phase, film-making was largely national but the absence of the spoken word gave film a truly cosmopolitan dimension, with directors, actors and technical personnel moving freely across national boundaries. Nonetheless distinctive national film cultures emerged, with Italy specialising in dramas set in the ancient world, France making ample use of theatre and popular literature, Germany developing the new medium within broader artistic phenomena such as Expressionism, the Soviets pioneering political montage, and, of module, Hollywood, and its studio system, popularising stars and genres across the world.

  • This module will introduce students to a number of different media encountered in the study of visual culture. By understanding the technical characteristics of a range of art works students will be able to assess the expressive and stylistic possibilities of offered by different media. Students will study a rich variety of visual cultures in Europe and Latin America from the Middle Ages to the present day. Mediaeval illuminated manuscripts, mural decorations in Renaissance Italy, sculpture, photography and fashion and textiles will be among the media that will be the object of our analysis this year.

Year 2
  • Intensive Greek
  • Aspects of Modern Greek Language and Culture
  • Intensive Latin
  • Hellenistic Epic: Apollonius of Rhodes
  • Imperial Greek Poetry: Epic & Epigram
  • Homer (in Greek)
  • The Tragedy of Euripides
  • Greek Dramatic Texts II (Comedy)
  • Herodotus
  • Plato (in Greek)
  • Imperial Greek Literature
  • Greek Historiography (in Greek)
  • Greek Erotic Poetry in Greek
  • Horace
  • Lucretius and Virgil
  • Latin Love Elegy
  • Roman Satire
  • Latin Epic
  • Latin Historiography
  • Catullus and Horace
  • Latin Letters
  • Homer (In Translation)
  • Greek Drama (In Translation)
  • Cinema and Classics
  • Ovid’s Metamorphoses: Art and Power in Augustan Rome
  • Virgil’s Aeneid : the Empire in the Literary Imagination
  • Gender in Classical Antiquity
  • Greek Law and Lawcourts
  • Greek History to 322 BC
  • Greek Historiography
  • Augustus: Propaganda and Power
  • The Roman Republic: A Social and Economic History
  • The Rise of the Roman Empire: An Economic and Social history
  • Historiography of the Roman World
  • Body and Soul in Ancient Philosophy
  • The Good Life in Ancient Philosophy
  • The Built Environment in Classical Antiquity
  • Greek and Roman Art in Context
  • Understanding Pompeii and Herculaneum
  • Perspectives on Roman Britai
  • Second Year Projects
  • This module will focus on four texts dealing with love and desire taken from French literature; these will be studied in the light of their common themes and will be used to explore issues around the representation and understanding of passion and romance in the literary text.

  • This year-long module examines key examples of French cinema from its beginnings to the present day, focusing on the avant-garde and surrealist films of the 1920s, social realist films of the 1930s, the New Wave which began in the late 1950s, and its ‘postmodern’ legacy in the 1980s followed by a return to realism in the new millennium. The module entails close, critical analysis of film style, though no prior knowledge of film theory is required.

  • This module introduces students of German and CLC to two key figures in twentieth-century German literature, Thomas Mann and Franz Kafka. Through an examination of the work of these writers, it explores such issues as the individual vs society, the role of the artist, and the nature of desire. Mann’s work evinces a fascination with disorder and decadence even as it remains bound to bourgeois ideals of respectability and sobriety. In Kafka’s work, the everyday world of bureaucracy and officialdom is invaded by fantastical and bizarre elements. The module focuses on the unsettling and disruptive elements of these writers’ works, asking what they tell us about life in the twentieth century.

  • Childhood and youth - the formative periods in our lives - are obviously crucial for individuals, society and culture. They are also contested and controversial concepts. Children and adolescents have long been the subject of social, familial and educational pressures against which they have often rebelled in an attempt to assert their individuality and develop their own identities. This module introduces you to a range of literary and cinematic responses to the lives of children and young people in the context of the German speaking countries from the late nineteenth century to the present day. Drawing on a range of classic and recent texts and films, it explores the historical contexts of the theme and considers the social, political and ethical issues involved in the representation of young people and of institutions such as the school and the military.

  • In this module students will study films from the last twenty years in Spain. The films selected will in different ways express representations of identity in Spain. We will explore issues such as national and regional identities, linguistic diversity and national identity, Spanishness, cultural memory, history on screen, urban versus rural experience, cultural diversity, immigration and the portrayal of gender within new family paradigms.

  • During the module attention will be devoted to analysing samples from early Twentieth century Mexican visual arts. Students will study the Mexican Mural Movement and will analyse the work of its most prominent members. Attention will be paid to the works of Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros and José Clemente Orozco. The first part of this module will also cover the photographic works of Edward Weston, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Tina Modotti, Mariana Yampolski, Araceli Herrera and Graciela Iturbide. During the second part of this module students will be introduced to some of the most significant cinematic works from Mexico’s century of filmmaking. Students will analyse some of the most important filmic genres from a wide range of directors and periods in Mexican cinematic history. On this module students will be introduced to some areas of film theory and will learn how to apply theoretical concepts to a reading of Mexican visual arts and films.

  • On this module students will examine the ways in which critical historical moments in Latin America have been represented visually in a global context. We will explore how political unrest in Latin America has been memorialised by both filmmakers and photographers, with the aim of re-thinking how global imaginaries concerning the rebel and revolution have been constructed in film and photography.

  • Postwar Italian Cinema: the Auteur Tradition
  • Florence in the 15th century was one of the most vibrant and innovative artistic and cultural centres in Italy and Europe. The cultural, philosophical and artistic life of Renaissance Florence is the focus of this module which combines the analysis of Renaissance painting, mural decoration and sculpture with that of writings on art from the time. We look in detail at a number of works of world famous Italian Renaissance artists such a Masaccio, Sandro Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael and Michelangelo. We also take a close look at texts discussing the role of the arts and artists, and the comparison between the arts by theorists such as Leon Battista Alberti, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo Buonarroti and Giorgio Vasari.

  • The module will introduce you to the birth and development of Italian crime fiction and analyse the way in which this foreign imported genre was reshaped and appropriated by successive generations of Italian postwar writers. The module aims at familiarising you with the theory—both foreign and Italian—of crime fiction. It also focuses on the way in which the most pressing issues that dominated Italian society in the postwar period were represented by crime writers.

Year 3
  • Further Aspects of Modern Greek Language and Culture
  • Roman Oratory
  • Ancient Literary Criticism
  • Roman Drama (In Translation)
  • Greek Lyric, Eros and Social Order
  • Nature and the Supernatural in Latin Literature
  • Greek Literature under the Roman Empire
  • Studying Ancient Myth
  • Culture and Identity from Nero to Hadrian
  • The Roman Novel
  • Gender in Classical Antiquity
  • Greek Law and Lawcourts
  • Augustus
  • The Roman Republic: A Social and Economic History
  • The Rise of the Roman Empire: An Economic and Social history
  • Alexander the Great
  • The City from Augustus to Charlemagne: The Rise and Fall of Civilisation
  • Body and Soul in Ancient Philosophy
  • Research-based Dissertation
  • Visual Arts Dissertation
  • Text and Image in France: from Cubism to the Present
  • The module examines murder and political uses of violence in twentieth-century French literary works and films, considering how far they can be explained or ever judged to be legitimate. The second half of the module studies some of the specific problems involved in understanding and representing the Holocaust.

  • In theory at least, early modern French theatre had little time for villains. Genuine wickedness, vice and evil were regarded as too serious a subject matter for comedy, while theorists of tragedy insisted that a wicked character – whether ultimately defeated or triumphant – could not produce pity, one of the key tragic emotions. And yet, as this module demonstrates, wicked and villainous characters recur throughout ‘classical’ French theatre. Indeed, by refusing to present villainous characters who are simply outright monsters – a straightforward ‘other’ to the social and moral norm – playwrights sometimes suggest that the most troubling characters are those in whom we might recognise elements of ourselves.

  • In this module we want to focus on German Romanticism's fascination with what was perceived as the "night side" of (human) nature. In response to the Enlightenment's belief in rationality and objectivity Romantic writers tended to explore the more subjective and irrational aspects of life, like emotions and imagination, but also more unsettling psychological phenomena like dreams, hallucinations and mental illness.

  • This module will explore the idea of the self as it is defined and expressed in literary works in German. From Goethe's canonical Werther via Schnitzler, Hesse, Bachmann and Handke, right up to contemporary writings by Karen Duve and Birgit Vanderbeke, German literature is always bound up with notions of identity.

  • This module will introduce you to one of the most crucial and controversial subjects in modern German history, society and culture. You will study a broad range of examples of the visual representation of National Socialism as an ideology, a political movement and a 'national' phenomenon, from the 1930s to the present day. You will think about the changing ways in which Germany has sought to deal with the legacy and memory of Hitler's regime.

  • On this module students will learn how to identify some of the traits of contemporary Mexican cinema, a period of filmmaking which has been recognised as one of the most fruitful in cinematic history. The films selected for analysis on this module will be examined within the context of contemporary Mexico: an era rife with socio-political unrest. We will learn how political corruption, social violence and the recent Drug Wars have shaped the narratives of the films we will explore, and how these issues have dictated the emergence of new filmic genres. Students will learn about how youth culture and its manifestations are explored in film and will be able to place the films studied in their socio-historic contexts.

  • This module introduces students to a range of important texts and authors, both canonical and non-canonical, from early modern Spain and France. Yet it does so through a selection of outsider figures – characters whose aberrant or idiosyncratic identity, outlook, or behaviour sets them at odds with their society. The characters on this module thus challenge some of society’s most deeply entrenched but often unwritten codes – of reason, gender, decorum, sexuality, class, and religion – and can thus offer important insights into the workings and values of the society whose norms they transgress. As we shall see, though, the treatment of such figures can vary widely. Whereas the outsider’s departure from the norm is often apparently ridiculed or censured, it can sometimes be celebrated or rehabilitated – whether by other characters within the fiction or by the literary work itself. Indeed, the period’s fascination with marginal or transgressive characters and behaviour betrays throughout a deep unease about the validity of its own norms and standards.

  • On this module students will explore the horror genre by exploring a broad range of films made in Spain and Latin America. Following an introduction to horror filmmaking, we will analyse texts in relation to horror’s numerous subgenres (gothic, physiological, psychological, science fiction, zombie etc.) and will learn both how to identify different types of horror film as well as to situate them in the history of horror filmmaking.

  • Though considered for long less attractive than Inferno, Purgatorio and Paradiso are the two canticles where Dante's design of the afterlife comes to completion. The Divine Comedy cannot be comprehended but through a close reading of the poem as a whole. This module aims to explore Dante's full vision of the otherworld.

  • The module brings together the study of the topics of fascism, organised crime and post-war and contemporary terrorism in Italy through film narrative. Students will be presented with the key ideological, social and political issues to be explored in films, that is, violence as a means to both assert and undermine State authority through dictatorial, criminal, and terroristic power. Students will study films such as Bertolucci’s Il conformista (The Conformist,1970), Bellochio’s Buongiorno notte (Good Morning, Night, 2003), Giordana’s I cento passi (The Hundred Steps, 2000), Garrone’s Gomorra (2008), Sorrentino’s Il divo (2008).

  • The Postmodern in Italian Literature: Pioneers, Practitioners and Critics

The course has a flexible structure, whereby students take twelve course units at the rate of four per year, including both core courses to develop your critical skills, and optional course units. 

You will be taught through a mixture of lectures, seminars and individual tutorials, depending on the subjects studied. Outside classes, you will undertake group projects and wide-ranging but guided independent study, including completing language exercises and reading prescribed and open material. Private study and preparation are essential parts of every course, and you will have access to many online resources and the University’s comprehensive e-learning facility, Moodle. When you start with us, you are assigned a Personal Tutor to support you academically and personally.

In your final year the Classics department provides ongoing support for your dissertation work, which usually includes:

  • Lectures and practical sessions on Dissertation Research Methods e.g. planning your topics, carrying out research, using specialist resources, finding information in print and online, and managing your search results and references. These sessions are run in conjunction with the Library Service and are generally also open to second year students.
  • Short departmental writing ‘surgeries’, in which academic staff offer general writing support if you are experiencing problems and/or if you have specific queries.

Assessment is by a mixture of coursework and end-of-year examination in varying proportions, depending on the course units you choose to take.

100% say staff have made the subject interesting

Source: National Student Survey, 2019 (Classics)

Top in the UK for career prospects

Source: 'Career after 6 months', Guardian University Guide, 2020 (Classics)

4th in the UK for research intensity

Source: THE, REF, Subject ranking on Intensity, 2014 (Languages, Literatures and Cultures)

94% graduates employed or in further study within 6 months

Source: Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education, 2018 (Languages, Literatures and Cultures)

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