All modules are subject to availability and this list may change at any time.
The course consists of 120 credits per year. Most modules are 20 credits, meaning you’ll study six modules each year. Some longer modules, such as a dissertation, are worth more (e.g. 40 credits). In these cases, you’ll study fewer modules - but the number of credits will always add up to 120.
Core and compulsory modules are fundamental to achieving the learning outcomes for your course and must be studied.
Optional modules let you tailor the course to your interests. Please note, the availability of optional modules can vary each trimester.
Authorship and Identity in Renaissance Literature
You will study how English writers from the Renaissance period (1579 to 1645), both male and female, canonical and more obscure, deliberately fashion themselves as ‘authors’, in relation to previous writers and works from both Classical and Early Modern European literary traditions. The module will introduce you to important techniques such as imitation and translation, and will provide an overview of significant European writers and sources, before focusing on the following English authors: Edmund Spenser, Samuel Daniel, Lady Mary Sidney Herbert, Aemilia Lanyer, Lady Mary Wroth, Elizabeth Carey, Ben Jonson, Beaumont and Fletcher, and John Milton.
You will discover and analyse an exciting range of recently-published novels, considering their relationship with culture, society, history and politics. You'll discuss issues such as the challenge to realism; narrative invention and innovation; internationalism and globalisation; and the connection between literatures of the past and present.
Crime Fiction: Reading the Body, Reading the Signs
To explore this wide-ranging and unique genre, you will first investigate the two main crime fiction traditions, classical (Poe, Doyle and Christie) and hardboiled (Ellroy). Next, your seminar group will analyse four novels chosen from among the many subgenres that have developed more recently, such as the forensic detective novel, black hardboiled crime, true crime and many others.
You will analyse the Gothic from the conception of the genre in the 18th century to its manifestation in contemporary literature and film, focusing on the genre's convergence with contemporaneous social and cultural preoccupations.
Playing God: Late Medieval Drama, from Page to Stage
This module explores the vibrant drama of late medieval England, focusing on the street plays performed in cities like York and Chester, on morality plays performed indoors before paying audiences, and on political plays performed in the households of royalty and nobility. Alongside study in seminars of the text of each play, you'll have the opportunity to reimagine these plays in performance, using theatre workshops, field trips and play archives, to bring late medieval drama to life.
Post-9/11 Literature of the US
Explore how literature responded to and made sense of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre on September 11 2001. You will look at how writers experiment with literary form and represent marginalised voices to raise questions about who gets to tell the story of 9/11 and its aftermath.
Speaking Pictures: Literature and the Visual Arts
You will explore the relationship between literature and the visual arts from the Renaissance to the present. You'll examine a wide range of literary texts alongside paintings, works of art criticism, and recent critical and theoretical writings.
Unruly Subjects and Renaissance Texts
Our subject is unruliness: how it was defined, represented, attacked and, on occasion, defiantly celebrated in later 16th- and early 17th-century English literature. The focus is on writing which was regarded with suspicion by the authorities, treats controversial issues of the day (such as rebellion, sexual misconduct, cross-dressing and witchcraft) and incorporates socially marginal figures whose irreducible and unruly humanity challenges us to reflect on their marginalisation and on those who are similarly marginalised in our times.
The Globalisation of American Culture: International Perspectives on America as a Cultural Superpower
Is the world simply becoming ever more “Americanised”? Or can countries and peoples resist the USA’s “cultural imperialism”? This module explores the impact of Americanisation, examining how cultures have appropriated, transformed, rejected, embraced and imagined America. You'll also consider the influence it's had on your own identity.
“Mi Raza Primero!” Mexican American History and Culture
This module explores the crucial role that Chicana/os (the term for Mexican-Americans born in the US) have played in US history and culture in the 20th and 21st centuries. You'll analyse several topics and themes, using a different cultural text each week. For example, you might discuss novels by Sandra Cisneros, poetry and memoir by Luis J Rodriguez, the murals of San Diego's Chicano Park, photography and art by Harry Gamboa Jr, or films like Mi Vida Loca and American Me.
Childhood Trauma and Its Aftermath in Contemporary Fiction
Explore ways in which contemporary novels and 'misery memoirs' present childhood trauma that impacts on adolescence and adulthood. You'll discuss a range of characters with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result of early bereavement or mistreatment in the domestic sphere, in conjunction with psychological and medical studies of child development.
Crossing the Line: Frontiers in the Literature of America
Explore literary representations of border regions in the Americas. You'll examine how cultural exchange, interaction and migration have shaped the US, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean by reading texts that cross lines between cultures and produce new ways of thinking about national identities.
You will explore how Shakespeare borrowed and adapted plays - now anonymous - which had entered the dramatic tradition. You will consider Shakespeare's plays, from all genres, in the light of theories of adaptation, imitation, conversion and originality.
Secrets and Lies: Victorian Decadence and Degeneration 1860-1901
Explore the development of new forms of writing which focus on the ‘darker’ alternative or hidden aspects of Victorian society, such as the ‘New Woman’; the Homosexual Man, the Foreigner, and the Poor, in the context of Degeneration theory.
Special Author: Shakespeare
You will study plays from the whole range of Shakespeare's dramatic career, from the early 1590s to around 1610, with a selection of comedies, histories, tragedies, and tragicomedies chosen for study each year.
Writing the Revolution: Sex, Religion and Politics in the Literature of 17th-century England
You will explore the literature of the mid-17th century in the context of the century's revolutionary turns and counter-turns: civil war, regicide, the establishment of a republic, favouring puritanism, and the Restoration of the monarchy. Amongst the writers studied will be John Milton, Andrew Marvell and the Restoration playwrights, George Etherege and Aphra Behn.
American History by Hollywood
From D W Griffith’s 1915 epic The Birth of a Nation onwards, Hollywood filmmakers have drawn upon the history of the United States as a bountiful source of stories characters and adventures. Exploring cinematic representations of events such as the American Revolution or the Civil Rights Movement, or figures as diverse as Abraham Lincoln and Jesse James, this module compares Hollywood’s version of history with what historical courses say ‘really’ happened in the past.
Conspiracy: the Paranoid Style in American Politics, Culture and Society
Were the Moon landings faked? Was President Obama really born in the USA? Who killed JFK? Such questions, once the product of a paranoid fringe, now play a defining role in American political life. You'll study the history of conspiracy theories in the US and their impact on American politics and society.
This module looks at the history and impact of the Disney studio/Disney company.
Doin’ Time: American Prison Culture of the 20th and 21st Centuries
This module explores one of the world's largest prison systems and the cultural responses it's spawned. You'll get an overview of the key debates and concepts in American prison studies, and you'll study new (pop) cultural formats that you might not have encountered before. We'll discuss incarcerated gangster rappers, poetry from Guantanamo Bay and The Shawshank Redemption, as well as visiting a local prison.