You will study four core modules:
This module allows you to explore the diversity of literary impulses in a turn-of-the-century period characterised by literary non-conformity. These will be studied across a variety of genres and authors, with reference to formative theorists/philosophers of the period. In spite of its interest in diversity the module will be unified by two themes that are characteristic of the period: an intense interest in the past as well as fascination with the future.
This module will enhance your knowledge of a range of key issues within the study of literature in the 1910s, 20s and 30s, introducing some of the more challenging texts written during these years, as well as recent scholarly thinking on the literature of the period more generally. You will be encouraged to rethink mainstream definitions of the literary history of the early twentieth-century, and examine the complexity of the literary and cultural moment of modernism. Major topics to be covered include: literary nostalgia and innovation; narrative and traumatic-memory; the concept of Modernism; High Modernism and its aftermath; and the social and aesthetic politics of the 1930s. These will be studied across a variety of genres and authors, with reference to formative theorists/philosophers of the period.
Research Methods: Literature, Culture and Modernity
This research skills module introduces you to the various methodological challenges in studying and carrying out research into the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth-century literature and culture. The module consists of a series of fortnightly seminars exploring different methodological approaches to the period. For example, ‘Working with Archives,’ ‘Using Special Collections’, ‘Digital Scholarship’, ‘Periodisation’, and ‘Interdisciplinarity’. The module is both theoretical and practical, allowing you to understand how different methodological approaches can shape what you learn, and take this into consideration when carrying out your research.
Guided Reading: Literature, Culture and Modernity
This module is designed to lay the foundation of the MA dissertation whilst allowing you to further refine your skills in research and communication. The module builds on the methodological work already undertaken, allowing you to put your research skills into practice under the supervision of your dissertation supervisor. You will also develop your communication skills through the writing and delivery of a 15-minute presentation on your dissertation topic to your peers, staff, and interested undergraduate students at a specially organised conference in the summer term.
You will also choose two optional modules from a wide range which includes:
This module offers higher-level study of some of the more challenging texts and debates in literary modernism. You will undertake close textual reading of some of the larger modernist texts, relating these to key developments in Anglo-American modernism in the 1920s and 30s, as well as recent critical debates. You will be encouraged to rethink mainstream definitions of the literary history of the early twentieth century, and examine the complexity of the literary and cultural moment of modernism.
The Work of T S Elliot
This module introduces you to one of the key modernist writers, and one whose work is widely perceived as among the most `difficult'. You will be required to read widely in Eliot's poetry, prose and drama, with a view to finding links and mutual illumination between these different writings, and discovering the consistencies in his outlook that can make that work more graspable. The module will consider chronologically the poetry from Prufrock (1917) to Four Quartets (1943), as well as a range of Eliot's literary and cultural criticism, and the drama of the 1930s. It will consider a range of Eliot's sources, some key interpretative debates his work has provoked, Eliot's `Englishness', the anti-semitic controversy surrounding the work and the relations between his classicism, Christianity and cultural theorising.
The American Renaissance: Above, Beneath and Around
This module is designed to explore the outburst of writing activity that occurred in America in the decades leading up to the American Civil War (1861-5), during the war itself and just afterwards. In particular, it will focus on the twenty-year period 1840-1860. This period is often designated the American Renaissance: that moment in American literary history when American writing 'came of age' and found its distinctive 'American' voice. The classical critical study referred to when defining this period is F O Mathiessen's "The American Renaissance", a text which will provide a constant reference-point during the teaching of this module, both for its strengths and its weaknesses.
New York, New York
At the start of the twentieth century New York City was becoming the city of modernity; the “cubist city” as Francis Picabia described it. Its metropolitan scale, vibrant, cosmopolitan sidewalk cultures, and the visceral rush of its rapid transit systems demanded new modes of expression from writers (and painters and photographers). The juxtaposition of skyscrapers and tenements created new symbolic and physical urban geographies. This module begins with Henry James, Jose Marti, Abraham Cahan, John Sloan, George Bellows, Alfred Stieglitz, Anzia Yezierska, Claude McKay, Djuna Barnes, Walker Evans, Bernice Abbott and Weejee as they meet the challenges of early-twentieth-century urban representation. The module goes on to explore changes in the City and its representation over the course of the twentieth century.
Law and Literature
This module will introduce you to a vibrant area of current interdisciplinary scholarship: namely, the study of law and literature. Such study can be split into two related categories. Firstly, law in literature reflects upon the variety of ways in which law has been represented by literature (an example of which would be the depiction of criminal trials in contemporary fiction). Secondly, law as literature explores the affinities between the interpretative strategies utilised by lawyers and legal scholars and those practiced by literary theorists – in other words, the law can be read as a text. With these dual topics in mind, texts by authors such as Charles Dickens, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, E. M. Forster, Franz Kafka, Truman Capote and Julian Barnes will be studied alongside the theoretical work of amongst others, Michel Foucault, Peter Brooks and Hans-Georg Gadamer. The issues raised by the module will include representations of justice (both poetic and juridical); the fact-finding employed by both the criminal trial and realist novel of the nineteenth century; the pervading influence of surveillance in modern culture; the use and abuse of confession; and the determining/illustrating of criminal states of mind.