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Comparative Literature and Culture and English

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Comparative Literature and Culture and English

BA
  • UCAS code QQ23
  • Option 3 years full time
  • Year of entry 2021

The course

This joint honours course in Comparative Literature and Culture and English gives you access to a world of literature, allowing you to compare and contrast the English literary tradition with an international canon of works. It willl provide you with the opportunity to combine the study of global literature, philosophy, film and art with the rigorous critical study of English literature, developing you as a culturally-aware, creative and adaptable thinker, with impressive communication and presentation skills.

Comparative Literature and Culture offers you the opportunity to study 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.

You can choose from an exceptionally wide range of fascinating options, spanning continents and centuries, from antiquity to the present day, covering novels, poetry, philosophy, cinema and art. You will read, watch, and compare texts from Ancient Greece to contemporary New York, from Cuba to Korea, from epics to crime fiction, and from tragedy to the avant-garde. Comparative Literature and Culture also enables you to study a varety of foreign texts originally written in many languages, all translated into English.

From Beowulf to the Booker Prize, English offers you the opportunity to study the full historical range of literature in English as well as the latest developments in the field, and even to pursue your own creative writing.

You can discover the earliest works in English, deepen your knowledge of Shakespeare, find out what is great about Renaissance literature, darken your view of the 18th century, and unpack the Victorians. The course's structure allows you to develop a sound understanding of key periods, genres, authors, and ideas as well as choosing from a huge range of options. You can study Modernism, Postmodernism and American literature, explore literary criticism, develop your own creative writing, and analyse the latest developments in global literatures in English.

  • You will gain original insights into the whole range of English literature from its beginnings to its latest developments, ranging from Chaucer and Shakespeare to Virginia Woolf, James Joyce and Salman Rushdie.
  • Study unusual, non-traditional subjects such as the body in the 18th century or time in modern literature or courses incorporating visual arts and cinema.

You will be taught by world-class experts who genuinely want to get to know you. We create a supportive environment, often using group work so you can try out new ideas and participate in lively discussions. Throughout your studies, you will receive personal guidance to ensure your course is aligned to your strengths, interests and career plans. As part of our close-knit international community you will be able to get involved with an array of cultural initiatives that take place on campus, and make the most of being within easy reach of London and its many events and attractions.

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

Core Modules

Year 1

You will take the following modules in Comparative Literature and Culture:

  • 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.

You will take the following modules in English:

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of how to think, read and write as a critic. You will look at the concepts, ideas and histories that are central to the ‘disciplinary consciousness’ of English Literature, considering periodisation, form, genre, canon, intention, narrative, framing and identity.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of the origins, developments and innovations of the novel form. You will look at a range of contemporary, eighteenth and nineteenth-century novels and learn to use concepts in narrative theory and criticism. You will consider literary history and make formal and thematic connections between texts and their varying socio-cultural contexts. You will examine novels such as 'The Accidental' by Ali Smith, 'Things Fall Apart' by Chinua Achebe and 'North and South' by Elizabeth Gaskell, analysing their cultural and intellectual contexts.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of a variety of major poems in English. You will look at key poems from the Renaissance to the present day. You will engage with historical issues surrounding the poems and make critical judgements, considering stylistic elements such as rhyme, rhythm, metre, diction and imagery. You will examine poems from Shakespeare to Sylvia Plath and analyse topics such as sound, the stanza and the use of poetic language.

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?

Year 3

You will take two from the following:

  • 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?

  • This module engages critically with theories of World Literature to examine how literary texts are translated, transmitted, and circulated, and how they conceptualise ‘the world’ from multiple perspectives and subject positions. Moving between the Iberian Peninsula, England, Latin America, and the Middle East, it encompasses textual production in a variety of languages (including Spanish, Arabic, Hebrew, English, and Quechua), to be studied through English translations, thus decentring traditional euro-centric approaches to the study of ‘Hispanic’ literature.

  • 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.

  • 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.

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
  • 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.

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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’.

  • 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
  • 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.

  • Love and Marriage in Major Novels by Theodor Fontane
  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Develop your skills in the close reading and critical analysis of Middle English poetry, focusing on set passages from three important fourteenth century texts: Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde, Langland’s Piers Plowman, and the anonymous Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. The module invites you to think about how poets understood the status of Middle English as a literary language, in comparison with Latin and French.

  • The Lord of the Rings regularly shows up in lists of 'The Best Books of All Time', and Tolkien continues to inspire interest and imitation for all kinds of reasons. You will examine Tolkien’s work from the perspective of his engagement with Old English poetry, a subject which constituted an important part of his scholarly activity. You will look at his three main Old English poems (in the original and in translation) and Tolkien’s two most popular works of fiction, The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.

  • In this module you will explore a major literary genre which attracted all the great poets of late medieval England: the dream vision. It considers the use of the genre in the works of Chaucer, Langland and the Gawain-poet, as well as examining the visions in mystical writing. These authors’ treatments of the genre repeatedly ask us to reflect on the relationship of literature to experience, poetic authority and identity, and the development of English as a literary language.

  • Romance was one of the most popular genres of secular literature in late medieval England. You will begin by looking at the Arthurian romances of Chretien de Troyes, before going on to consider works by Chaucer, the Gawain-poet and Sir Thomas Malory. You will examine romances set in the mythical British past, in the classical cities of Troy, Thebes and Athens, and in the more recognisable landscapes of medieval England and France. Attention will be paid throughout this module to the often inventive and unpredictable ways in which medieval romance works to articulate specific historical and cultural anxieties.

  • An introduction to the literature of the English Renaissance, beginning in the 1590s with erotic narrative poems by Christopher Marlowe and William Shakespeare, and concluding with John Milton's drama, Samson Agonistes, first published in 1671. Marlowe and Thomas Middleton represent the extraordinarily rich drama of the period, while John Donne and Andrew Marvell are the most famous of the so-called metaphysical poets. A feature of the module is the attention given to situating these works in their historical and cultural contexts.

  • This module explores in-depth three supreme examples of Shakespearean comedy, tragedy and historical drama: Richard III (1592-3), A Midsummer Night's Dream (1595-6), and Macbeth (1606).

  • The texts covered in this module span virtually the whole period in which early modern English drama flourished: from Marlowe in c.1593 to 1634. The texts range from famous plays like Macbeth and The Tempest to little-known comedies like The Wise-woman of Hogsden. Two central texts will be The Witch of Edmonton and The Late Lancashire Witches, plays which deal with historically documented witchcraft accusations and scares. Non-dramatic texts about witchcraft are also included for study, including news pamphlets, works by learned contemporaries expressing their opinions about witchcraft, and popular ballads.

  • Charting a progression from Galenic humoral theory to Cartesian dualism, you will consider the representation and significance of corporeality in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century texts. Reading Renaissance plays and poetry alongside anatomical textbooks, manuals of health, erotica, and philosophical essays, the module seeks to contextualise the period's literary treatment of the body.

  • This module offers the opportunity to study one very important and characteristic aspect of Milton’s Paradise Lost: his depiction of Eden, the paradise that was lost at the fall. Throughout his account of Paradise, Milton works to make the loss of Paradise poignant by lavishing on it all his evocative powers as a poet. You will spend at least three sessions looking at Milton's epic, covering aspects such as Edenic sex and marriage, Eden’s fauna and flora, and work in Eden. Throughout the module images of Paradise will be given attention, starting with Hieronymus Bosch's 'The Garden of Earthly Delight'. Alongside artworks, you will look at some of the Bible scholarship which tried to locate the site of Paradise, and deduce its fate.

  • An introduction to English literature from the Norman Conquest to the birth of Chaucer. This period has been described both as a period of political crisis and also as a period of cultural renaissance. It saw the conquest and colonization of England, the rise of new forms of scholarship and spirituality, and, according to some accounts, the development of new ways of thinking about national and individual identity

  • Between the English Revolution and the French Revolution, British literature was pulled by opposing cultural forces and experienced an extraordinary degree of experimentation. The eighteenth century is sometimes called The Age of Reason, but it is also called The Age of Sensibility. It was dominated by male writers, but also facilitated the rise of the woman novelist and the emergence of coteries of intellectual women. It continued to be an essentially rural nation, but London grew to be the biggest city in the world and industrialisation was beginning to herd workers into towns. This module explores some of the tensions and oppositions which were played out in the literature of this period.

  • Explore the Victorian concept of the 'sensational' across a range of novels dating from the height of the sensation period in the 1850s and 60s. Together, we will examine some of the magazines in which these novels were originally serialized. Issues such as the role of public spectacle, the first detectives, advertising, domestic crime and the demonic woman will be explored in relation to the cultural and social context of this novelistic genre.

  • This module is framed by the personal: it begins with Queen Victoria’s private diaries of her happiest days in Scotland, and ends just beyond the Victorian period, with one troubled man’s intensely-felt account of his Victorian childhood. You will look at examples of the novelistic form, including sensation, Romantic, domestic realist and sentimental novels. Some of the works you will study are well-known and truly canonical, while others will be excitingly unfamiliar; all, however, will contribute to a sense of the variety and contradictions inherent in being Victorian.

  • This module will introduce you to a broad range of literatures from the period 1780 to 1830. The module aims to problematise and scrutinise the idea of Romanticism as a homogenous literary movement and to raise awareness of the range of competing literary identities present in the period.

  • This module, which is designed to enable non-creative writing students to try a creative writing module, will give you the opportunity to work through some issues associated with short-story and/or novel writing. Classes will alternate seminar discussions of aspects of the craft of writing with workshops in which you will interact critically and creatively with others' work.

  • Examine a range of novels by gay and lesbian writers in Britain and Ireland which have emerged in the wake of the AIDS catastrophe and queer theory. You will focus on interesting though rather peculiar trends in the post-queer novel: queer historical and biographical fictions, and explore the reasons behind the dominance of these approaches in recent gay and lesbian literature.

  • With the appointment of Carol Ann Duffy as the first woman Poet Laureate for the United Kingdom in 2009, poetry by women became publicly validated as never before. Setting fresh horizons for women’s poetry, Duffy joined Gillian Clarke who has served as National Poet of Wales since 2008; Liz Lochhead was appointed Scots Makar in 2011, and Paula Meehan was appointed in 2013 to the Ireland Chair of Poetry. By careful reading of two collections by each poet, you will assess how each poet has moved from a position of rebellion, liminality or minority into the very heart of the cultural institution.

  • Discover the 'dark' topics of late-Victorian and Edwardian literature. Perhaps the most important cultural influence on these texts is the negative possibility inherent in Darwinism: that of 'degeneration', of racial or cultural reversal, explored in texts like Wells's The Time Machine, and often related to the Decadent literature of Wilde and others.

  • Explore British drama staged during the first half of the twentieth century against a backdrop of two world wars. The plays studied place the values of their age under scrutiny, to raise questions about social justice, spiritual choices, class and gender inequalities. Theatrical genres were under just as much pressure as the cultural values they sought to convey; the ten plays studies during the course reflect a range of evolving genres, from the well-made play, the play of ideas, social comedy, to poetic drama.

  • An introduction to American literature via the tradition which David Reynolds labels 'dark reform'; a satirical and often populist mode which seek out the abuses which lie beneath the optimistic surface of American life, often through grotesque, scatological, sexualized and carnivalesque imagery. You will explore the contention that because of America's history, with its notions of national consensus and fear of class conflict, political critique in America has often had to find indirect expression.

  • This module will familiarise you with a range of influential critical and theoretical ideas in literary studies, influential and important for all the areas and periods you will study during your degree.

  • Providing an introduction to the study of literary modernism, a period of intense experimentation in diverse sets of cultural forms.  This module deals with issues such as modernist aesthetics; genre; gender and sexuality; the fragment; time and narration; stream-of-consciousness; history, politics and colonialism; technology, and the status of language and the real.

  • 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’.

  • 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 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.

  • Visual Arts II: Genre and Movements
  • 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).

Year 3
  • Research-based Dissertation
  • Visual Arts Dissertation
  • This module explores how French novels and films of different genres and decades reflect, perpetuate and challenge the effects of fast-developing consumer capitalism and globalization on conceptions of identity between writers and artists over a century of experimentation.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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 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.

  • 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
  • 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.

  • The fiction of the last twenty years or so is a gigantic and diverse field. Now global in dimension, the range of novels and writers is simply enormous, and the field is growing at frantic speed. It’s very hard to find out what’s going on, to identify trends and significance. The aim of this module is to offer a sense of some of the larger themes and patterns in contemporary fiction.

  • Investigate a variety of literature produced about Chicago by writers who lived and worked in the city. Although the module will focus on novels, it will also include some poetry and nonfiction prose. You will develop knowledge of the historical development of Chicago in the 20th century, as seen through its writers, from 'muckrakers' such as Theodore Dreiser and Upton Sinclair, through the boosterism of Carl Sandburg, the ‘urban naturalism’ of James T. Farrell, Richard Wright and Nelson Algren, to the later interpretations of Saul Bellow, Mike Royko, Studs Terkel, Stuart Dybek and Gwendolyn Brooks.

  • Examine the representation of murder in literature and popular culture. You will explore how and why writers from different historical periods and national traditions have created aesthetic works around murder, and how those aesthetic works engage with their historical, social and cultural contexts. You will ask why murder has remained a compelling subject for writers and audiences, and what literatures of murder reveal about, for example: the body, the self and its relationship to others, society and its institutions, moral and social responsibility, and faith or its absence.

  • A comprehensive study of three of Shakespeare's most difficult and most disturbing plays, collectively known as the ‘problem plays’: Troilus and Cressida, All’s Well That Ends Well and Measure for Measure. You will develop a detailed knowledge and understanding of the plays, both as individual works of dramatic art and as a group of texts sharing distinctive concerns and techniques.

  • An advanced introduction to debates about the philosophy of literature. This module is structured around three key questions: the ethics of literature, what literature is presumed to reveal and the relationship between literature and its interpretation.

  • Brexit is not simply a political or economic event. It is a cultural event too. This module uses the cultural event as a lens to analyse some aspects of contemporary literature and theory, and some aspects of contemporary literature and theory to analyse Brexit. These aspects include theories of nationalism; affect theory; cultural memory; postcolonialism and refugee studies; Literature and Human rights; rhetoric.

  • This module will introduces you to a number of theorists of tragedy, and a number of significant tragic texts (in dramatic and other idioms) from Classical Greece to the present day. All works not written in English are studied in translation. You will explore a variety of theories of tragedy with specific attention to a range of tragic works in various modes: plays, novels, poetry and film.

  • Focusing primarily on Joyce’s major work Ulysses while putting it into context with Joyce’s other work, you will have the opportunity of getting to know and getting to enjoy what has been described as ‘the greatest novel of the 20th century’. You will examine it in various contexts, including Joyce’s other writings and the various critical approaches that have found inspiration from Joyce, whether new critical, humanist, post-structuralist, politicizing, feminist, historicizing or textualist responses to his work.

  • This module explores aspects of nineteenth-century literature, science and culture in some depth and brings well-known works like Charlotte Brontë's Villette, Eliot's Middlemarch and Dickens's Our Mutual Friend into conversation with the evolutionary thought of Charles Darwin, the social investigations of Henry Mayhew and nineteenth-century writings on psychology. You will look at a number of genres, including novels, poetry, journalism, science writing, autobiography, history, art criticism and examine elements of contemporary visual culture.

  • This module uses The Victorian Serial Novel, a web resource, to re-create the reading experience of Victorians over the period Oct 1846 to March 1847. You will read, in real-time, six works published within this time period, as and when they were published and in the format in which they first appeared.

  • In this module you will examine a variety of literary responses to the First World War 1914-1918: poetry, prose and other modes, from immediate responses to the war written by combatants on the front line and civilians on the home front, through to postwar reconsiderations of what the war meant to civilisation. You will look at the most famous works of wartime poets such as Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon and Isaac Rosenberg, and also examine realist novels, Modernist experimentation, postwar memoirs and Fantasy by both British and Continental writers.

  • Examine fictional representations of the girl across a range of texts, from Charlotte Brontë's eponymous Jane Eyre through to Antonia White's Catholic schoolgirl, Nanda and Ian McEwan's remorseful Briony Tallis. As well as enabling an exploration of female development and subjectivity, you will also engage with a range of questions relating to sexuality and desire, place and belonging, knowledge and resistance, art and creativity.

  • In this module you will study a broad range of writing for children from the nineteenth through to the twenty-first century.

  • The end of the various colonial empires in the middle of the twentieth century saw an explosion of literatures from the newly emergent postcolonial societies. Rather than provide a survey of the field of postcolonial studies, this module aims at engaging the recent debates in postcolonial writing, theory and criticism. You will critically examine a range of postcolonial novels from Britain’s erstwhile empire, paying attention to issues such as the boons and contradictions of writing in the language of the colonial powers, the postcolonial reclamation of the Western canon etc. and focussing on genres such as postcolonial realism, modernism, magic realism, and science fiction. You will pay close attention to novels and their historical legacies of colonialism and resistance.

  • In this module you will consider two immediate, present-day concerns. The first is currently very much in circulation in English political culture and the media: what is and should be the relationship between England and continental Europe? How involved is and should the first be with the second? How close are they, how distant should they be? The second sounds rather more academic or theoretical, but is also at issue in the wider culture and involves us all. Over the past two decades, many thinkers and writers have announced that we have arrived at 'the end of modernity', and many more have declared that we are'post-modern', that we inhabit a 'postmodern condition'. Yet round about us, all the time, we hear of one kind of enthusiastic 'modernization' or another. What sense can we make of this?

  • In this module you will consider a range of contemporary and experimental poetic writing and consider writing practices in relation to contemporary theory and criticism. You will look at the methods, processes and techniques used by experimental and innovative writers becoming familiar with a range of methodologies for making your own poetic practice.

  • In this module you will address the relationship between literature and the visual arts from c.1760 to the 1890s. You will look at theoretical issues of how the visual and the verbal arts are defined and consider their compatibility through a number of case studies of visual-verbal interactions from the period studied. You will also address the rise of the visual as the dominant cultural form of the Victorian period, tracing the development of illustrated media and new visual technologies including photography and early cinema, and the concomitant rise of the new phenomenon of the art critic - the professional interpreter of images - in the 1890s.

  • This module focuses on a key moment in mid-20th century art and culture: the period when the New York Schools of poetry, painting and composition emerged in parallel. In the postwar period, the city took over from Paris as the centre of contemporary art. Abstract Expressionism quickly achieved global popularity, establishing the Museum of Modern Art as the world’s leading contemporary art museum. However, other cultural currents also made a great impact on their respective disciplines. The witty, fast-moving work of the New York School Poets (Frank O’Hara, John Ashbery, Kenneth Koch, Barbara Guest and James Schuyler) challenged the authority of High Modernism in the field of poetry. The radical music of John Cage and Morton Feldman posed a similar challenge to established European composers. The leading proponents of these tendencies did not work in isolation from other disciplines. The poets, for example, wrote about art and Cage and Feldman were both inspired, in different ways, by painters such as Rauschenberg and Guston. This module examines all three fields and the relations between them.

  • The 1930s was a decade of extremes: extreme financial instability (after the Wall Street Crash of 1929) and extreme politics, with the rise of Fascism and Nazism in Europe. British colonialism was showing fractures; there was a war in mainland Europe (in Spain), and the increasing threat of another World War, which eventually came to pass. Could it be that it closely - all too closely - resembles the decade that we’re living in now – with the rise of nationalisms, extreme ideologies, unstable international relations, following on from a colossal crash in the financial markets? What can we learn about our world by reading fiction from the 1930s?

  • A chronological study of the novels of Virginia Woolf covering the period 1915-1941. These will be supplemented by selections from Woolf’s criticism and other writings. In addition to demonstrating Woolf’s development as a writer and familiarizing students with a range of key critical ideas relating to her work, you will explore Woolf’s relation to Modernism and realism; questions about language, form and consciousness; sexuality and androgyny; Woolf’s feminism and politics; war and subjectivity; nation, Empire and history; mourning and loss; and the maternal.

  • Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales are among the greatest literary achievements of the middle Ages. Chaucer describes a group of pilgrims, drawn from all parts of late medieval English society, who enter into a tale-telling competition on their way to Canterbury. Their stories include romances, fabliaux, saints’ lives and beast fables, and address themes of love and sorrow, trickery and deception, fate and free will, satire, tragedy and magic, as well as raising questions about the nature and purposes of storytelling itself. In this module you will read The Canterbury Tales in detail in the original Middle English. You will examine how the tales relate to their literary and cultural contexts, and read them in the light of different schools of modern criticism. You will also have the opportunity to read a range of earlier writers who influenced Chaucer, including Ovid, Boethius, Dante and Boccaccio, and later writers who responded to him, including Lydgate, Hoccleve and Dryden.

  • In this module you will study the complete career of Charles Dickens (1812-1870), looking at eight novels in their historical and cultural contexts. You will examine Dickens's life and times, and the cultural discourses that shaped his fiction; the serialisation and illustration of his work, and the themes, forms and structures of his writing. You will also consider the richness and specificity of Dickens' actual work.

  • In this module you will have the opportunity to read in detail and in chronological order the full range of works by Oscar Wilde, from his early poetry to his last letters. Wilde’s work has captured the widest possible public attention since his death in 1900, and his readers and audiences are spread across the globe. His work is intensely literary and profoundly political yet it is popular and fleet-of-foot. And just as his output is exceptionally varied, so too the questions which arise from its study will take students in many directions. Aesthetic poetry, the role of the critic, the construction and betrayal of national and sexual identities, symbolist drama, platonic dialogue, fairy tale, farce, satire, wit: these are some of the topics you will examine.

  • In this module you will explore the works of American author Herman Melville (1819-1891) in breadth and depth. While Melville’s whaling epic, Moby-Dick (1851) is the lynchpin of the module, you will also have the opportunity to study Melville’s early travel writing, his fictions of social criticism, his short stories, and his poetry. You will consider critical approaches to Melville’s work, situating him in mid-century America – a time of social transformation, economic crisis, tensions over slavery, and increasing calls for a national American culture – as well as looking as his works through the lens of post-colonial theory, gender studies, and queer theory.

  • Often described as the most difficult and influential poems of the twentieth-century, T. S. Eliot's "The Waste Land" is undoubtedly one of the key Modernist texts. You will you look at Eliot's 1922 poem, along with a selection of his critical writings, engaging in an intensive reading experience in which you will examine ideas about composition, structure, voice, time, myth and intertextuality.

  • World-literature critics worry that queer theorists foist a Western, elitist approach to LGBTQ+ identities on to the rest of the world, that is, a Western homonormativity performs a similar role as the unequal distribution of power in a globalised world. Queer theorists, on the other hand, are anxious that queer perspectives get lost in world-literature theory and texts, which tend to, they argue, either privilege a masculine nationalist agenda or not pay enough attention to the effects of globalisation on local articulations of race, gender and sexuality. In this module you will explore this productive tension by paying close attention to variety of texts from around the world.

  • This module concentrates on a particular mode of writing, genre, theme, issue or idea. You will be encouraged to make creative work in relation to the focus, and develop your writing practice in relation to wider contexts relevant to the contemporary writer.

    Creative Writing Special Focus courses are open to both creative writing and non-creative writing students.

  • The dissertation is an opportunity for you to undertake a substantial piece of independent work in an area of your choice, and so to deepen your understanding of literature, culture and critical theory.

The course has a modular structure, whereby students take 12 course units the rate of four per year, including both core and optional units.

You will be taught through a combination of lectures and small seminar groups, where you will be able to try out new ideas by giving presentations and participating in lively discussions in a supportive environment. 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.

We use a variety of assessment methods, including long and short essays, formal examinations at the end of each year, online tests and exercises, presentations, commentaries and portfolios of creative work. You will take a study skills course during your first year, designed to equip you with and enhance the writing skills you will need to be successful in your degree. This course does not count towards your final degree award but you are required to pass it to progress to your second year.

Comparative Literature and Culture Undergraduate Admissions

 

 

 

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