This module aims to provide an introductory exploration of prose as a medium of art and thought. Through encounters with specimens of prose from across recent history, students will be brought into contact with the ways in which prose writing has been theorised and understood. They will learn different critical approaches to prose and become practiced in conceiving and producing academic prose of their own. The module’s ten weeks are divided into a number of sections, each of which focusses on one of the core texts. Within the sections, each week focuses on a different critical theme, inviting students to familiarise themselves with a range of different ways of reading, and writing about, literature. By the end of the course, students will be familiar with a spectrum of critical theory as well as the specific works in question; they will have encountered prose through various lenses such as history and biography, gender and sexuality, race and politics.
The key aim of the module will be to develop skills in close reading, informed by a sampled knowledge of the historical and geographical varieties of verse written in English. Each week’s work will be structured around a key text, or group of texts, which will form the basis of that week’s lectures; in seminars, these key texts will be related to, or contrasted with, a variety of extension texts, some suggested by the module convenor in the form of ‘flat pack’ teaching plans, and others by the seminar leaders’ own interests and enthusiasms. The key texts will be grouped by three themes, each of which will form the basis of three weeks’ work: Love, Loss and Location, allowing the students to shape arguments about change and variety in English verse around an idea of shared attention to related topics. Detailed attention to and development of the skills in close reading, and the conversations between poems that these enable, will be the chief outcome (and pleasure) of the module; its key technical and historical vocabulary will provided by a critical course book such as John Lennard, The Poetry Handbook, 2nd edition (Oxford, 2005), and its primary texts will be drawn from a commercial anthology.
This module supports students’ transition to university, and helps them to develop basic skills in ways of reading and approaching literature, using the library, research, working with criticism, planning and writing assessments of different kinds (including close reading, essays, posters, presentations), and making the most of lectures and seminars. Students will be encouraged to understand the practices and principles of studying English literature, key disciplinary debates, and the purposes and pleasures of reading. Exercises in seminars will be tied to a particular literary work chosen from a short list selected by the Department.
English in the World
This module encourages students to understand the role of English as it might be applied in the world. Students will be encouraged to understand the ways in which literature teaches us to understand ourselves and others, and our past, present and future, and to recognise how telling stories makes meaning in the world. They will learn the importance of being able to evaluate and rethink these stories, and how reading and rereading literature is important for understanding and making a difference in the world. Lectures and seminars will focus on topics such as ‘Literature and Human Rights’, ‘Literature, Science & the Environment’, ‘Telling Stories: Communities, Nations and the World’, ‘Literature, Medicine & Health’, ‘Everything to Everybody: Literature and Inclusive Heritage’, and ‘Reading Social Media’.
Creative Writing Foundation
This module will give students the opportunity to develop a basic understanding of key issues and methodologies related to the study of creative writing as an academic discipline; to explore purpose and method in writing, both individually and collaboratively; to develop competence in basic creative writing skills in the traditional genres of prose, poetry and dramatic writing, as related to each stage of the writing process; and to develop appropriate vocabulary and formats to reflect on their own writing as process and product. Generic themes and issues will be covered in lecture-demonstrations; while generic-specific skills and processes will be introduced in tutor-led seminars, and reinforced student-led groups.
Contemporary Creative Writing
This module will give students a thorough introduction to current trends in creative writing in three principal areas: publishing (traditional, independent and self-publishing); prizes and awards; literary markets and presentation. Students will examine a number of case-studies including tradition vs. self-publishing; mainstream vs avant-garde; marketing and promotion. Students will create original creative works in response to these case studies and develop the skills of pitching and presenting their work in a variety of contexts.