English Literature and Digital Media and Communications year 1 modules

Compulsory modules - English Literature

Literary Worlds 900-1770

This module provides an introduction to a wide range of texts---including both prose and verse— across a broad transhistorical period. The aim is to introduce students to a spectrum of texts and genres from the earliest writing in English to the invention of the novel in the early- to mid-eighteenth century. Building on the work of ‘Literary Worlds 1770-Today’, this module expands in depth and breadth the exploration of key aesthetic and cultural developments that shaped the development of literature during this earlier and less-familiar period. The module will be arranged in three main blocks corresponding to key historical and literary periods within the range of c. 900 to 1750.

Literary Worlds 1770-Today

This introductory module offers students a broad chronological survey of the literary history of the modern age. Students will explore a diverse array of texts – including prose, verse and drama – written in the English-speaking world between the middle of the eighteenth century and the present. The module is designed to introduce key aesthetic and cultural developments that shaped literary production during this period and train students in methods of research and analysis at university level. Lectures will frame set texts as (1) representative examples of specific literary-historical moments and (2) case studies for particular modes or techniques of writing and analysis. Seminars will guide students to achieve a nuanced understanding of literature post-1770, develop discursive and analytical skills essential to an undergraduate degree, and undertake formative work towards an assessed portfolio of writing tasks. The module aims to foster students’ understanding of significant topics and approaches, helping them to develop an appropriate critical vocabulary, versatile knowledge of literary history, and a flexible and accurate analytical style.

Critical Environments

This module introduces students to some of the contextual applications of literary analysis, the ‘critical environments’ which the study of literature reflects and influences. Whereas ‘Literary Worlds’ focuses on literary history of the works studies, ‘Critical Environments’ focuses on critical reactions to those works, be they from a human rights perspective, ethnic studies angle, eco-critical view, etc. The module draws on the research of scholars in the Department to begin making links between the study of literary works and the world beyond.

Cultural Environments

This module introduces students to some of the socio-cultural contexts of literary production, the ‘cultural environments’ that may not be immediately obvious to new scholars. Whereas ‘Literary Worlds’ focuses on the literary qualities of the works studied, ‘Cultural Environments’ focuses on the broader social, linguistic, and cultural circumstances that gave rise to those works. The module draws on the research of scholars in the Department to begin making links between the study of literary works, the moments in which they were written, and their relevance for readers today.

Compulsory modules - DMC

Media History and Technologies 

This module introduces students to the history of the media, focusing especially on the ways in which technologies for making and distributing meaning have changed over time. It explores the development of technologies such as writing, the printing press, radio, cinema, television, and the internet. It asks how each of these technologies has related to social, political and communicative changes, and asks; what kinds of society do different media technologies allow us to develop and how?

Theories of Communication

For millennia, scholars have asked questions about what communication is and how it works. What does it mean to communicate effectively? What is the relationship between communication and our social lives? How does communication relate to our bodies? Are some ways of communicating better, or more ethical, than others? What differences are there, if any, between human communication and that of other organisms? Can machines communicate? This module addresses such questions, encouraging students to develop their own views, and highlighting the connections between theories of communication and theories of psychology, society, and politics. 

Discovering Creative Practice 

Discovering Creative Practice will explore how to develop story ideas from scratch. Working both individually and with peers, during the weekly workshops, students will focus on the elements and processes of storytelling – people (creators, characters and consumers), storyworlds (where stories are made, take place and are interacted with), journeys (approaches to narrative, character arc and plot) and forms (scripts, poetry, fiction, creative on-fiction) – using these to discover and reflect on their creative practice.