SCHOOL OF ARTS
MA in ENGLISH LITERATURE
MODE OF STUDY One-year full-time; two-year part-time
How might the study of literature and culture enable us to understand and explain the everyday world we inhabit and the ways in which different social worlds have been invented and sustained across time and cultures?
How might it help us both to explore ourselves and the ways in which we see and understand others?
How does such an enquiry affect, and quite possibly change, the way we read texts and read the world?
START DATE September
ENTRY REQUIREMENTS A good honours degree, normally an upper second class or above, or equivalent. The Programme Convenor will consider all applications including those from international students and individuals with extensive relevant experience. If you are an international student please see our country pages.
ENGLISH LANGUAGE REQUIREMENTS Details of English language requirements can also be found on our website.
These are the kinds of questions at the core of the MA in English Literature, which offers the opportunity to study a wide range of topics and periods, from the early Modern/Renaissance through to the modern and contemporary.
Please see our website for the latest information.
Visit www.brunel.ac.uk/arts/English for more information
MA English Literature This course aims to introduce you to the advanced study of a wide range of literatures, from the early modern to the contemporary period. You will explore the diversity of literary and cultural production through innovative modules designed to cross disciplinary, historical, and geographical boundaries, thereby offering a wide scope within which to develop your own interests. You will take two compulsory modules that will enable you to undertake advanced level study using all the available resources and facilities provided by Brunel and other libraries in the London area. You can also choose from a large range of modules including those delivered by the other English and Creative Writing MAs as well as those designed specifically for this MA. Our staff has expertise in a wide range of literatures, and you will benefit by a series of talks and events by writers, industry representatives, and scholars, as well as the activities organised by the Brunel Centre for Contemporary Writing, and the School’s research resources including its several archives. If you wish to continue your studies at doctoral level, you will have essential research skills, and the opportunity to join a flourishing research culture at Brunel. Additionally, there are financial benefits offered to alumni of the Brunel MA programmes to help you on your way.
innovation, and contemporaneity, and considers how publishing practices, marginalisation, new media and technologies affect the composition and reception of contemporary writing. The MA is taught through workshops and seminars, by one of the most impressive teams of specialists in the UK. You will be expected to contribute to discussions, present your own interpretations and raise new questions for debate. In addition, the development of the new archive of contemporary writing, Archive of the Now, allows students to play an active role in the field of contemporary literature. The contemporary arts industry is expanding rapidly and with the increase of new media platforms this MA is perfectly placed to allow students to build careers in publishing, print media and electronic media, the culture industries and education.
Important writers and creative practitioners in the School of Arts contribute to teaching the programme and to the research culture at Brunel
You can draw on the School’s archives such as the Burnett Archive of Working Class Autobiographies, and SALIDAA (South Asian Diaspora Literature and Arts Archive)
What will you study? You will take two compulsory modules and two optional modules and write a 15,000 word Dissertation.
Compulsory modules Reading Cultures
Why Study MA English Literature at Brunel?
This unique, concept-led module will introduce you to four key dimensions of the critical study of literature and culture, and allow you explore these through literary and theoretical texts.
You will be taught by worldleading specialists
The wide range of literature studied, from the early modern and Renaissance through to the contemporary period, allows you to choose a pathway that really interests you
‘Reading Power’ opens up questions about the relationship of literature and culture to power, politics, and ideology
‘Reading Selves’ explores the way in which cultural discourses mediate and construct social identities, and the relation of these processes to power
MA English Literature: Contemporary Literature and Culture
You will have a great choice of innovative module topics which cross historical periods, disciplinary boundaries and geographical frameworks
‘Reading Others’ considers the other side of the formation of identity, which constructs differences against which identities are defined both within and outside the body politic and ‘imagined community’
This MA pathway within MA English Literature offers the opportunity to develop the skills required to understand contemporary writing in all its exciting diversity. The programme offers cultural, social, intellectual and aesthetic context for the study of popular genres, the 21st century novel, innovative poetry, postcolonial literatures, and more. It examines key concepts such as postmodernity, trauma, historiography,
Our modules are theoretically informed by the latest work in the field of English studies
The MA’s unique concept-led core module provides you with a sophisticated framework for study of cultural and intellectual contexts
‘Reading Texts’ considers some fundamental aspects of textuality, such as the historical development of reading practices and technologies, the formation of old and new reading communities, and the relation of the text to the contexts explored in the other three sections of the module.
Brunel’s location in West London places it in the heart of contemporary literary and cultural life
This module is split into two blocks (Reading Cultures 1 and Reading Cultures 2) and runs through both teaching
terms. It will enable you to develop your own critical methodology as the course develops, building up to the dissertation.
Research and Study Methods This module will enable you to develop and refine advanced research skills that are fundamental to the study of literature and culture at Masters level and beyond. Sessions will include help with using online resources and maximising access to research libraries; writing ‘research questions’ and project management; advanced written and oral presentation skills; using archives; writing for publication; and preparing for your dissertation. This module has been designed to meet the requirements of the Arts and Humanities Research Council in terms of preparation of graduate students for advanced level study and doctoral research.
Optional Modules This is an indicative list and some modules may not be available in particular years owing to demand and/or staff availability. If an offer of a place is made to you, you will be notified of the modules running so that you can make your selection in advance. For the MA Contemporary Literature and Culture pathway your two optional modules must be chosen from those modules focusing on the contemporary period.
Victorian Sensations: the Mass Media and the Novel, 1850-1900 The 19th century was punctuated by a number of widely publicised criminal cases which shocked public sensibilities and threatened the values and ideals which the Victorians held dear. The most famous of these remains the unsolved Jack the Ripper case of 1888, which highlighted the prevalence of prostitution in Victorian London, and hinted at the possibility that criminal behaviour was not confined to the ‘lower orders’ of society. Other high profile cases included the Constance Kent murder case, in which a young boy was murdered by his sixteen year-old sister. Such cases were frequently sensationally reported
in the newspapers of the day, and in the Victorian sensation novel, such as those by Wilkie Collins and Mary Elizabeth Braddon. This module examines the relationship between crime, the rise of the tabloid newspaper, investigative journalism, and the Victorian popular novel in the latter half of the 19th century, with a view to exploring some of the key issues which shaped both Victorian and post-Victorian attitudes.
Selves and Things: Two Traditions in Anglo-American Poetry Since the Romantics Is poetry mainly a matter of self-expression? Should poets explore their emotions ever more deeply – perhaps even until they uncover the most painful, private experiences (mental breakdown, suicide attempt, alcoholism, adultery and so on)? Or should poets struggle to escape from the self and respond to the things of this world, its objects, its people, its politics? These questions reflect the positions of two central traditions in Anglo-American poetry since the Romantics. The module will survey two hundred years of poetry in two continents, juxtaposing the confessional tendencies of figures like Wordsworth, Dickinson, Whitman, Tennyson, Lowell and Plath with the impersonal tendencies of Hopkins, Browning, Eliot, Pound, Bunting and Zukofsky.
Queer Theory and Reading Culture In the contemporary world, queer theory mediates between normative ideologies and everyday practices, between intellectual enquiry and the processes of social change, between literary text and cultural context. This course uses queer theory both as a mode of analysis and as a strategy of opposition for reading culture and for challenging heteronormativity as it is embedded within a range of social norms, social categories, and social institutions. Recognising that sexual desire is not only privately experienced, but is always already publicly mediated, our discussions and debates will pay attention not only to dissident sexualities as axes of investigation in themselves, but to the persistent
pressures of other normalising regimes pertaining to subjectivity, childhood, race, gender, social class, national belonging, citizenship, and local and global conditions, in addition to, and alongside, sexuality. We will attempt to make connections between queer theory and literary and cultural texts, such as film, in order to demonstrate the ways in which queer theory may operate as a lens for reading texts and reading the world more critically.
Popular Genre and Fictions This module provides students with an understanding of the literary and generic conventions which govern contemporary popular fictions and covers genres such as film noir, hip hop music, graphic novels and science fiction. In particular, the module aims to provide students with the critical skills to examine the ways in which Popular Fiction is often structured by the dominant values of society and yet also may articulate forms of resistance to, and subversion of, those values.
Early Modern Identities: Selfhoods, Sexualities, and the Social Stage From Burckhardt’s formulation of the Renaissance as the ‘age of man’ to the New Historicists’ insistence on the early modern as defined by the emergence of ‘subjectivity’, the period circa 1500-1700, and especially its drama, has been the site of contested debates about identity, selfhood, and the representations of gender, sexuality, race, and the ‘other’, often religious, economically, socially marginalised groups. This unit explores those debates through a wide range of plays from the period starting with Hamlet and considers a range of identities (sexual, ethnic, religious, economic) and their representation on the ‘social stage’. The topics to be studied include: selfhood, gender, masculinities and sexualities, religion. Among the representations to be considered will be those of Catholics, Jews, Turks, gypsies, witches, the Irish and Scots, prostitutes, criminal subgroups and gangs, the poor, vagrants, and socially dispossessed. The module provides an introduction to how
Richard Bramwell After graduating with a first class BA honours in English at Brunel, I decided to continue my studies here with the MA in Contemporary Literature and Culture. I completed my MA dissertation on contemporary multicultural society and the relation between English literature and rap and I graduated with distinction. The enthusiastic staff and challenging intellectual material made working towards these achievements a pleasure, and I wouldn’t have attained these goals without their support. Since graduating from the MA I have completed a PhD on UK Hip-Hop culture at the LSE and am currently a Teaching Fellow on the English Literature programme at Brunel.
the early modern social stage opened up these identities for exploration as well as offering stimulating ways to study the works of canonical writers such as Marlowe, Middleton, and Shakespeare.
Postcolonial Literature The module is designed to help students develop a wide knowledge of contemporary postcolonial writings and literatures, and a sophisticated understanding of the socio-historical, cultural, geographical and theoretical frameworks used in the analysis of contemporary post-colonial literature. Texts studied will include works such as Chinua Achebe’s A Man of the People, Toni Morrison’s Beloved, J. M. Coetzee’s Disgrace, Edwidge Danticat’s Brother, I’m Dying, and Junot Díaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. Relevant theorists studied include Paul Gilroy, Homi Bhabha, and Gayatri Spivak. By the end of the module students will understand the historical context of the development of the field and concomitant theoretical developments.
The Brontës Charlotte, Emily and Anne Brontë are perhaps the most mythologized and analyzed family of writers in Britain. Their childhood in Haworth, the intensity of their novels, the relationship with their father and brother - all have been fodder for literary and biographical analysis, and spawned an entire industry of memorabilia, imitation and criticism. In this module you will complete close readings of five Brontë novels (Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, Villette, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall), their juvenilia, some biographical selections, and a number of critical articles. They will be read within the historical, cultural and theoretical context of the Victorian novel, publication history, and biography.
From other MA programmes: You may choose one of the following modules from MA in Creative Writing: the Novel as one of your two optional modules: •
Feature or Screenwriting
Creative Writing in Education and the Community
Dissertation (compulsory for the award of MA) The MA programme culminates in the production of a 15,000 word dissertation, which will enable you to construct a programme of in-depth research into any topic of your choice. You will be personally supervised by a member of the English subject team who will assist you in planning and executing the research project.
Assessment The MA is taught through workshops and seminars, moderated by distinguished research-active staff working in the field. You will be expected to contribute to discussions, present your own interpretations and raise new questions for debate. Students will be assessed using a variety of methods including essays and dissertation, oral presentations, seminar attendance and performance, and organisation and planning of the dissertation. Some assessments will be formative, ie students will be given feedback but not graded; this will enable students to improve and work towards graded assessments.
Careers You will have skills which are vital for careers in publishing, print and electronic media, the culture industries and education, as well as other professions such as law, the civil service, advertising, market research and marketing, and financial services and business.
Enquiries PG Arts Admissions School of Arts Brunel University, Uxbridge Middlesex UB8 3PH Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: +44 (0)1895 267214
Related Courses We also offer MA Creative Writing – The Novel
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