A Level Requirements
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Full time 3 Year(s)
Studying History alongside English Literature at Lancaster gives you the opportunity to deepen your understanding of both subjects in an outstanding academic environment. Our diverse research interests allow us to offer you an unusually wide selection of historical topics and approaches to the study of History and Literature.
You’ll enjoy frequent opportunities for stimulating discussion with your tutors and fellow students as well as plenty of scope to specialise in areas of Literature and History that particularly interest you.
Your degree begins with courses including From Medieval to Modern: History and Historians, and English Literature. In your second year, you’ll study subjects such as The Theory and Practice of Criticism while your final-year modules include Contemporary Fiction and Shakespeare, and Utopia, Colonialism and the New World. You’ll also have the chance to undertake in-depth study of topics of your own choosing, either by doing a dissertation in place of an exam, or by undertaking a History ‘special subject’ course.
A Level AAA-AAB
Required Subjects A level English Literature or A level English Language and Literature grade A
IELTS 6.5 overall with at least 5.5 in each component. For other English language qualifications we accept, please see our English language requirements webpages.
International Baccalaureate 36-35 points overall with 16 points from the best 3 Higher Level subjects including 6 in a HL Literature subject
BTEC Considered alongside A level English Literature or A level English Language and Literature grade A
Access to HE Diploma in a relevant subject with 36 Level 3 credits at Distinction and 9 Level 3 credits at Merit to 30 Level 3 credits at Distinction and 15 Level 3 credits at Merit
We welcome applications from students with a range of alternative UK and international qualifications, including combinations of qualification. Further guidance on admission to the University, including other qualifications that we accept, frequently asked questions and information on applying, can be found on our general admissions webpages.
Contact Admissions Team + 44 (0) 1524 592028 or via firstname.lastname@example.org
Many of Lancaster's degree programmes are flexible, offering students the opportunity to cover a wide selection of subject areas to complement their main specialism. You will be able to study a range of modules, some examples of which are listed below.
This module introduces you to some of the most vital debates in an English literary tradition that is constantly being rewritten and challenged, especially in the multicultural, postmodern era of the late twentieth century and beyond. The module starts by concentrating on poetry from the late sixteenth century to the present and examines the rich canonical tradition and how each generation of writers has responded to it. A range of literary genres is also covered including plays, films, short stories and novels in addition to poetry in order to develop the practice of close analytical reading Throughout the module attention is given to the working-class, women, black and Irish writers as well as mainstream English authors. The module also includes a Study Skills component and an introduction to some of the general theoretical issues of reading and interpretation.
An introduction to the discipline, Lancaster’s first-year History core course offers a fascinating survey of the last fifteen-hundred years. The course focuses on pivotal trends and events in European history, but it encompasses regions of wider world as distant as California, India, Japan and the South Pacific.
You’ll become familiar with a wide range of primary sources used by historians in the writing of history. You’ll gain insights into how historians conduct research and interpret the past, and will therefore better understand the reasons for changing historical interpretations.
In the process, by undertaking directed reading, by independent research, by attending lectures, by participating in seminar discussions, by working sometimes in a team, and by writing and receiving constructive feedback on what you have written, you will develop your study techniques and other transferable skills.
The long chronological range and types of history covered by the course will extend your intellectual and historical interests and enable you subsequently to make informed choices from among the many historical options available to you in Part 2, either as a History Major student or as a Minor.
Historians routinely distinguish between ancient, medieval, early modern and modern epochs without always giving too much thought to the question of exactly what it is that makes 'modernity' modern. But more is involved here than just an arbitrary chronological classification.
Though generations of social theorists and cultural critics have argued about causes and consequences, 'the modern world' has been regarded as radically new since its inception and welcomed or feared for its challenges to established regimes of power, habits of thought, and ways of life.
Embracing this novelty has in turn defined 'modernist' movements in literature, architecture, and the arts in the twentieth century, which have often linked their attempted cultural revolutions with revolutionary programs for social change.
This module in the cultural and intellectual history of modern Europe and/or the United States allows you to explore the relationship between modernity, as conceived by a range of 19th- and 20th-century thinkers, and modernism in both politics and the arts, paying particular attention to how a sense of its own modernity reflexively did much to make 'the modern world' what it is
This module combines social, political and military history, and will give you the opportunity to examine some of the current debates concerning the nature and evolution of the Great War, in particular the emergence of 'total war', using certain conceptions of mass industrialised warfare, especially after 1915.
You’ll focus on the Western Front and compare and contrast not only the nature of constantly evolving warfare on the battlefields but also include the so-called 'revisionist' arguments about the wider conflict, examining the unwelcome and unwanted national mobilisation forced upon Britain, France, and Germany and the many different consequences for these three war-fighting societies.
To conclude, you’ll examine the postwar building of memorials and the emergence of new socio-cultural dimensions for the three 'total war' societies.
Britain underwent radical change in the early modern period. In 1500 England and Wales, Scotland and Ireland were insignificant nations on the fringe of Europe. Out of the change came the 'United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland', now a world leader on many fronts: for example, democratic government, religious pluralism, a consumer society and cultural achievements that rivalled France in art, science and philosophy.
This module will enable you to explore how groups of people who were not part of the traditional ruling elite came to exercise more power and control over their lives, and thus played their part in shaping modern Britain.
You’ll also develop an understanding of the periodisation of, and differences between, the medieval, the early modern and the modern, and you’ll develop familiarity with recent historiographical approaches to the period, notably those that emphasise underlying commonalities.
Ever since the English historian Edward Gibbon wrote his ground-breaking work The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire in the late eighteenth century, the question of caused the loss of the Empire’s western provinces and the transformation of its eastern half into Byzantium has preoccupied historians. They have identified much relevant data, but they continue to disagree as to what happened to the Empire between the third and the seventh centuries AD and why. For some historians the barbarian invasions of the late fourth and fifth centuries were crucial, but others have argued that they merely finished off a society that was already in deep moral, social and/or economic decline. For some historians the Empire’s ‘decline and fall’ was a disaster; but others have maintained that the Empire never regressed, that the foundations of medieval (and even modern) civilisation were forged in the cultural ferment of the later rather than the earlier Roman Empire, and that the barbarian takeovers in the West made little difference to the lives of those who lived there. An introduction to this exciting period of history, this course invites you to discover what really happened and to assess the theories and interpretations that currently command historians’ support.
This module seeks to look beyond the boundaries of traditional courses in English Literature by enabling you to explore a wide and exciting range of texts. The module covers world literatures in English (Rushdie, Munro, Atwood), to the literatures that have influenced the development of English (from the Bible and classical figures such as Ovid and Homer, through to Medieval and Early Modern authors such as Dante and Rabelais). It also considers modern and contemporary world authors in translation (Kafka, Borges, Salih and Murukami), to new media writing and the graphic novel.
What is ‘good’ history, and what is ‘bad’ history? What should historians do in theory, and what do they do in practice? Why, moreover, does history matter? This module offers you the opportunity to think through these fundamental questions, and it invites you to think critically about the nature of the discipline of history – its good practices and its bad practices, its methodologies and different genres, its relation to both past and present, its limitations and its opportunities. The module is organized around a set of broad themes, including history and context; sources and evidence; and history and the public sphere. Each of these themes is explored through carefully selected case studies. The topics covered in these case studies varies from year to year, but their purpose is to sharpen your awareness of the varied nature of the discipline of history and the ways that historians ‘create’ history when designing and writing up their research. To this end, the case studies usually explore the scholarly standards that inform the ways historians research, reference, deploy and assess their evidence and source materials. These case studies are accompanied by weekly introductory lectures that address the broad themes of the module.
This is the core course of English at Lancaster. It is designed to enable students to reflect on the ways in which they approach literature and to introduce them to key concepts in contemporary literary studies. By examining major thinkers like Marx, Freud, Foucault and Derrida, and examining key ideas like ideology, the unconscious, discourse and biopolitics, this course asks fundamental questions about the status and function of literature in society: What is literature? What makes it an object suitable for an academic discipline? Who reads it, produces it, and why? How is literature connected to the critical movements that seem to define literature even as they seek to appreciate and explain it? We ask questions about the relationship between author, text and reader, we analyse various theories about the process or practice of writing and reading as students, as critics, and in general as ‘consumers’ of literature in the culture of today. In relation to the English degree as a whole, 201 aims to equip students with the knowledge, experience and skill necessary to bring a greater sophistication, care and rigour to their literary studies in their final year.
This module explores the history of the city of Paris in the modern age, asking how and why Paris has captured the imagination of generations and remained a focal point for the study of politics, art and culture. Key topics will include Paris's role in the Enlightenment and French revolutions of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, the birth of a bourgeois consumer culture in the latter part of the nineteenth century, political and artistic movements of the fin de siècle and the turbulent history of twentieth-century Paris as a site of war, immigration and cultural exchange. The module places marginal social groups centre-stage, arguing that the identity of Paris has been shaped in large part by the diversity, vitality and increasing visibility of these communities. Another core component of the module is its engagement with non-traditional historical sources – film, literature, music and art.
The module concerns the political, cultural and psychological consequences of the Vietnam War in the United States, and the ways that they combined and complicated one another. It addresses the way the war was commemorated through a so-called ‘healing’ process designed to overcome wartime divisions; the repercussions of wartime atrocities; the position of Vietnam veterans as embodiments and reminders of the experience of the war; and the debates about the proper lessons of the Vietnam War and their application to later foreign and military policy contexts, including the renewed debates about the lessons of Vietnam in the wars in Asia after 2001.
This course considers how American Literature has evolved from its colonial origins, with particular emphasis on key figures of the nineteenth century. What we call ‘American Literature’ and how we define America and ‘the American experience’ depends on who is writing and to whom. We shall encounter many different voices, many conflicting and contrasting views, a diversity of complex experiences and a great range of writing in form and style (don’t expect the poetic and novelistic forms you are used to in British literature). The course will be broadly thematic in its approach, aiming to build up through recurring themes, images, questions and stylistic features, an increasingly complex picture of the literature created by English-speaking Americans.
This module examines Russian history during the period 1825-1914. It focuses in particular on how Russia’s development during this period – cultural, political, economic and social – was affected by the country’s position on the periphery of Europe. The module places particular attention on the way that successive tsarist governments did – and did not – seek to introduce major reforms. It also examines the rise of radical and revolutionary opposition movements (liberal, populist and Marxist). A good deal of attention is also paid to the role of successive tsars in shaping policy both at home and abroad. The module is taught through two weekly lectures and a fortnightly seminar. The seminars will revolve around set readings and (in some cases) documents which are all available via Moodle.
This course is divided into four key areas across the two terms: Revolution and Romanticism; Romantic Education: Women and Children; Politics and Poetics; the Gothic.
In the first term, we will begin by examining the relationship between Romanticism and revolution, particularly in terms of the events of the French Revolution which help to define the period. We will then consider how ideas generated during the period related to issues of gender, developing this theme to examine poetry by women, and considering the importance of re-educating as a means for bringing about change within the period. In the first half of the second term, we examine the relationship between politics and poetics for the major second generation poets, examining some of the more complex underlying ideas about the workings of the mind, of identity, and of the imagination as they find expression in the major writers of the period. In the second half, the course will turn its attention to the popular literary movement of ‘Gothic’ which emerges during the Romantic period, exploring its manifestation in a range of texts. The course aims to give students a well-rounded sense of Romanticism as a full development of earlier eighteenth-century ideas and movements as well as a distinct period in itself. We will work out of close knowledge of key texts in order to begin to tackle some of the wider, more abstract ideas such as: nature; imagination; the sublime. We will also consider literary ideas within a broader social, historical and philosophical context.
By what means was Indian independence seized from the British Empire in 1947? This module explores opposition to British rule in India from the end of the nineteenth century until 1947 when colonial India was divided to create the nation states of India and Pakistan. In particular, we will explore the modes of resistance that emerged from the Indian freedom struggle and in particular, the role of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. Gandhi transformed the Indian National Congress, an organization that had been founded in 1885 as a loyal and moderate organization. Gandhi created a mass movement that challenged the colonial state in extraordinary ways. British rule in India gradually lost credibility and struggled to find the means of maintaining control in the face of massive resistance to its right to govern India. You will explore Gandhi’s philosophies of personal restraint and political resistance to the injustices of the colonial state. You will also trace the emergence of religious politics in India during this period and the increasing pace of communal conflict, in particular Hindu-Muslim antagonism. What was the role of the colonial state in firing communal anxiety? Did Gandhi’s political ideas allay or encourage the conflation of political action and religious identity? The course ends with the partition of India, the largest migration in history and a process in which over one million people lost their lives, and the event that led, in 1948, to Gandhi’s assassination by a Hindu fundamentalist.
This module surveys formal, generic, historical, cultural, narrative, and theoretical relationships between literature and film across a range of periods, genres, topics, and cultures, paying particular attention to the practice and analysis of literary film adaptation. It also addresses some other modes of literary adaptation (e.g. television, graphic novels, tie-in merchandise, mobile phone applications, etc.).
This is a rare opportunity to study a revolution in ideas about the world we live in. It begins in the Renaissance (1500), when blood-letting was a common treatment for diseases, when no-one suspected that the earth moved around the sun, when witches were executed for performing diabolic magic, and when students thought that the best authors on their reading lists had to have died two thousand years ago. The module ends in the early modern period (1700), and with ‘modern’ thinkers like Francis Bacon, René Descartes, Galileo Galilei and Isaac Newton. But these people believed, respectively, that new inventions would recreate Paradise on earth, that the laws of billiards proved the existence of God, that the ocean’s tides proved that the earth moved, and that Christianity was a corrupt religion. You will find out why Renaissance men and women believed what they did, discuss how modern the ‘moderns’ really were, and which historians have the best explanation of this exciting period in the history of ideas.
After a brief survey of the main events leading to the declaration of war and the invasion of Poland, this module allows you to explore resistance and collaboration in countries that were first occupied in 1940, namely, Norway, Denmark, Belgium, Holland and the Netherlands. The transition between active collaboration to increasing resistance is next traced through Vichy France. The module then moves to the Eastern and Mediterranean fronts where the resistance was more effectively organized. The countries studied in this segment include Yugoslavia, Greece, and the USSR (Belarus, Russia, Baltics and Ukraine). Lastly, you’ll examine countries that were first part of the Axis and eventually switched sides from 1943 onwards (Italy, Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania). Special attention will be given to the treatment of Jews, the Holocaust and the difficulties of coming to terms with what remains a contested past. Besides political documents, you will engage with photography, posters, films, documentaries and personal memoirs.
The course will take us from the closing decades of the Tudor monarchy (1580-1603) to the episodes of power, revolution and restitution that characterised Stuart rule (1603-1688). During this time, English culture saw upheavals in politics that were accompanied by shifts in discourses such as those of gender, religion, sex, science and education. ‘Renaissance to Restoration: English Literature 1580-1688’ will thus examine the literature of change in the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, for example Spenser’s provocative Elizabethan verse epic The Faerie Queene, the brilliant and edgy theatre of the likes of Christopher Marlowe, Ben Jonson and Thomas Middleton, and the prose writings of revolutionaries like John Milton and monarchist libertines like Aphra Behn. Our readings will mainly be focused on four topics designed to provide us with ingress into the literature, culture and historical vitality of the period: ‘Love, Sex and Death’, ‘Court, Country, City’, ‘Power and Politics’ and ‘Heaven and Hell’. We will be reading cross-sections from works by many authors to explore these themes from as many angles as possible. We will consider the similarities between a wide range of primary texts but we will also be keen to observe and analyse differences.
This module gives a broad thematic overview of the history of Germany in the twentieth century. Few country’s histories have been more tumultuous over the past two centuries than that of Germany. Rapid industrialisation, varied federal traditions, revolutions, the launching of and defeat in two world wars, responsibility for war crimes and genocide on an unparalleled scale, foreign occupation and re-education, and political division for four decades have made German history, and the ways in which Germans have remembered it, contentious and of broad public concern. In few countries have visions of the nation's history been so varied and contested, and few peoples have created and faced such challenges when confronting their 'transient' or 'shattered' past. In order to provide a thematic focus, this module will examine in particular the reasons for the rise of National Socialism, the character of National Socialism, and the difficulties of the Federal Republic of Germany to deal with its difficult and contentious past, that is the attempt at 'coming to terms with the past' (Vergangenheitsbewältigung).
This course explores the period known colloquially as the English Civil War and the Interregnum, bounded by the traditionally-accepted dates that allow for a discussion of the causes of war and the final collapse of constitutional experimentation. It will look at the controversies which have whipped up successive generations of historians; at the birth of a republic in England; the role of Scotland and Ireland, the rise of the gutter press, and the birth of modern political campaigning; (in)famous characters such as ‘Freeborn’ John Lilburne and the radical preacher Praise-God Barebones; ask if Oliver Cromwell was a dictator, a king or a saviour; and explore the trial and execution of a king whom many believed was the Lord’s anointed and the fount of all justice.
The defeat of Athens in the Peloponnesian War changed the power relations in the Greek world significantly. In this module you will explore the major political, socio-economic and cultural developments in ancient Greece from the end of the Peloponnesian War through the age of Alexander the Great to the coming of the Rome (c. 403 to 31 B.C.). You will focus in particular on Spartan imperialism, Athens in the fourth century, and Theban hegemony, as well as the rise of Macedon, the legacy of Alexander the Great, Hellenistic kingship and monarchies, and the emergence of Rome as an imperial power. Using the main literary sources of Xenophon, Arrian and Polybius, together with iconographic and archaeological evidence, you’ll come into close contact with the most significant political, social and cultural developments in the late Classical and Hellenistic periods.
This module combines a lecture series that offers an overview of the history of the United States in the 19th century with a closely linked set of seminars that focus on the construction of race, class and gender difference over the same period. This combination allows students to explore an important thematic aspect of world history (the construction of race, class and gender difference) while simultaneously providing grounding for further study and research into the history of the United States in the 19th and/or 20th centuries. The module builds upon skills that you gained in Part I and, in particular, will explore the history of the United States, from the passage and implementation of the US Constitution (1789) to the conclusion of the Civil War (1865). The module is particularly focused on the culture and politics of race, class and gender in the rapidly industrialising and expanding nation. Seminars meet fortnightly and are structured around primary readings and recommended secondary texts that offer critical and historical insight into the topics under consideration.
Who were the Victorians? Sometimes they are credited with inventing modern Britain, with the industrial revolution, urbanisation, democratisation, the transport network, and the law and order system listed among their achievements. Yet at the same time, they exhibited attitudes to gender, sexuality, race, politics, and poverty which would be considered shocking and disgraceful by modern standards. This module introduces you to a fascinating and contradictory period in British history. You will discover nineteenth-century Britain by exploring its most important and contentious spaces, such as the factory, the workhouse, the prison, the city, the railway carriage, and the home. You will find out what life was really like in the long nineteenth century by studying a range of primary sources, including novels, press reports, paintings, cartoons, and autobiographies.
This course aims to introduce students to a wide range of Victorian literature, including novels, poetry, short stories, drama, and social criticism. It seeks to give students an understanding of the role played by that literature in the defining cultural debates of Victorian Britain, as well as explore literary conventions, innovations and debates. The course is structured around four major themes: ‘Progress’, ‘Community and Outsiders’, ‘Scandal, Sensation and Spectacle’ and ‘The Fallen Woman’. The aim of the course is to explore and interrogate the complexity of 'Victorian' attitudes within and across these areas.
Many writers have described the years of unprecedented historical change that surrounded the turn of the twentieth century as a time of 'cultural crisis'. This interdisciplinary module in US cultural history explores that so-called crisis through the close reading and analysis of a variety of important written and visual texts, including fiction and non-fiction, architecture and urban design, painting, photography and cinema. Course themes include: technology and culture, labour and capital, imperialism and the 'myth of the west', immigration and urbanisation, celebrity and consumer culture, reform politics, the Great War, and cultural modernism.
In 21st Century Theory, we will build upon the general introduction to critical and cultural theory given on ENGL201 by focusing on one specific theme in contemporary theory: biopolitics. To explore biopolitics – or the politics of life itself – we will examine a selection of classic theoretical works by Michel Foucault, Georgio Agamben and others and then read them alongside some key literary and filmic texts from Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go to the Batman Trilogy. This course will seek to address the following questions. What exactly is biopolitics? How have theorists, novelists and film-makers imagined such concepts as sovereign power, bare life, the state of exception and so on? To what extent might it be possible to resist the biopolitical hold over our political imaginary?
This module explores the origins of modern ‘consumer society’ in Britain, introducing you to an exciting and innovative new field of historical research. In the hundred years from the abolition of advertising tax in 1853 to the birth of commercial television in the 1950s, advertising became a ubiquitous feature of modern capitalism. You will examine the causes and consequences of this process of commercialisation using a variety of primary sources, from press reports, novels, and cartoons, to business archives, social surveys, and, of course, the advertisements themselves. You will explore the changing relationship between people and their possessions, new retail environments, including the department store and the supermarket, how advertising has shaped modern gender identities, and how ethical consumerism was pioneered by the co-operative movement. Advertising is political, and you will also see how it helped Britain win two world wars and market the Empire to its own people. You will learn how advertisements work by designing your own advertising campaign in a particular historical context. You’ll never look at shops or advertisements in the same way again.
This course examines some of the literatures which have spoken to, from and for the African continent, mostly since 1950 when the great era of decolonization began. It is impossible to provide a comprehensive survey of this diverse field, and the course therefore covers mostly canonical material. The primary reading list refers to sub-Saharan African contexts, from black, white and Islamic perspectives and, of course, by women as well as men. These texts present an extraordinary fictional world, which opens immediately onto urgent realities, including the brutal 'Scramble for Africa', anti-colonial struggles and the state of nations thereafter.
The course will begin with writing that looks back to the First World War and end with writing that anticipates the Second World War. In between the students will explore and interrogate the inter-war ‘moment’ through close attention to a number of other texts. The course will focus on many of the great themes of the period such as exile, unemployment, Englishness, eugenics, militarisation, and political commitment, as well as many of the great cultural motifs of the period such as borders, radios, planes, cars, trains, cameras and telephones. Close attention will also be paid to many of the great intellectual debates of the period such as the nature of history, the role of the State in everyday life, and the place of literary experimentation in time of war. The course will not, though, be limited to what these texts are ‘about’ but will also attend to what these texts ‘do.’ In other words, we shall explore how inter-war writing both reflects the period and indeed participates in the period. The students will, then, be expected to understand the ways in which the texts under consideration exist not only ‘between the acts’ but are themselves acts – acts not only of mourning and warning but also agitation, provocation, resistance, despair, and even (therefore) hope.
In this unit we will look at a selection of biblical texts alongside literary works that appropriate, rewrite and subvert them. We will be thinking about the Bible as literature; the reciprocal relationship between the Bible and literature; and what the Bible does to a literary text. By the end of the course you should be more familiar and knowledgeable about the Bible, its genres, ideas and narratives, and be able to appreciate its literary qualities. You will develop skills of exploring the relation between a literary text and the biblical text it invokes: in what ways does knowledge of biblical texts provoke more profound readings of literature? Do rewritings refine or subvert the Bible? Throughout the course we will also have in focus issues related to reading, interpretation and adaptation that will be relevant to your wider studies.
This module will cover British and American crime writing. It traces the development of crime fiction from the 1840s, clarifying its basic formulas, looking at the evolution of contrasting narrative structures and considering the historical significance of forms ranging from the classic whodunit to the hard-boiled thriller. Beginning with Poe and Doyle, the module moves on to the Golden Age of the detective story (Christie, Sayers, etc.), American tough guy crime stories (Hammett, Chandler, Jim Thompson, etc.), the contemporary noir thriller (British and American), black and feminist crime fiction (Chester Himes, Gillian Slovo) and the detective story’s postmodernist variants (e.g. Hjortsberg). The reading of novels and stories will be supplemented by a selection of films directed by Hitchcock, Mike Hodges, Carl Franklin, and Coen brothers and the Wachowski brothers. Sessions will consist of seminars, small group discussions and occasional mini-lectures.
This half-unit will examine the relationship between British fiction and literary theory as it has developed over the past thirty or so years. The course will examine a range of contemporary fiction upon which theory has had a formative impact. Novels by Julian Barnes, Malcolm Bradbury, A. S. Byatt, Angela Carter, Patricia Duncker, and David Lodge will be read in tandem with the theoretical writings from which they have drawn inspiration. There will be a particular emphasis on the leading French theorists, including Roland Barthes, Jacques Derrida and Michael Foucault. The course aims to assess the creative possibilities opened up by radical literary theory, and to trace the ethical and cultural controversies which have surrounded the assimilation of French theory into English culture.
Contemporary Literatures focuses on different kinds of (postmodern, postcolonial/world, Gothic, post-9/11, feminist/queer, experimental) contemporary literature. The course consolidates student knowledge of ways in which writers redress notions of ‘English literature’, including ways in which they both respond to and stimulate critical theory. Beginning in the 1950s, we consider the explosion of new literatures from the decolonising/newly postcolonial world and the rise of new literary forms in the post-war period. The course also emphasises work from the end of the twentieth and beginning of the twenty-first centuries, foregrounding, at all stages, English literature in its international dimensions: we read texts from Africa, South Asia, the Caribbean and Australasia, as well as from multicultural and devolved Britain. Recurrent themes include borders, margins, haunting, apocalypse, rewriting, migration and metamorphosis; these terms also reflect formal qualities of the texts studied (i.e. aspects of genre, structure and style). The course considers inter-generic forms (e.g. the graphic novel) as well as a range of more standard literary genres (novels; short stories; poetry), highlighting literary experimentation and critically reflecting on notions of ‘the contemporary’.
The twenty-first century has seen the emergence of Middle Eastern literature in English and translation into English as one of the most exciting new areas of world literature. This is partly due to the acute topical interest of a region that has experienced, so far this century, the ‘war on terror’; revolution; civil war; sectarian violence; the rise of ‘ISIS’; and a mass refugee crisis. These events provide settings for a body of work that is also, however, of intrinsic literary interest. While creative work helps to illuminate national, regional and global contexts, it is only ever partly shaped by politics. On this course we will explore some of the aesthetic traditions, as well as social concerns, that shape contemporary Middle Eastern literature; the representational work that it does; and reasons for its growing international visibility. We will study novels, short stories, poetry and drama, in English/translation into English, from a region that encompasses the Arab world, Turkey, Iran and Afghanistan.
This module is run by the Department of English and Creative Writing with the support of the FASS Engagement team. It aims to enhance students’ employability by providing an assessed work placement opportunity as an option on the curriculum. It will also encourage students actively to think about the transferability of skills gained through the study of English and/or Creative Writing. The Department, via the FASS Engagement team, will set up a number of work placements in the (broadly defined) culture, heritage and creative sectors: with, for example, publishers, museums, newspapers, heritage sites, and arts venues. Students may alternatively source their own work placements, subject to prior discussion with the course convenor. Students will pay their own transport/accommodation costs, so it is expected that placements will be either close to Lancaster University or to the student’s home.
Students will typically spend 30-40 hours with their host organisation in the Lent term and will maintain contact with the convenor throughout the placement period. Placement providers will be required to complete risk assessment and health and safety forms and to ensure an induction process. Both students and placement providers will be required to sign a Learning Agreement.
This unit is compulsory for all English Literature majors, and is taken in the Third Year. The course is intended to give students the opportunity to pursue a topic of their choice in intensive detail, developing research, extended writing and bibliographical skills in a programme of directed independent study. Students will complete a dissertation of 10,000 words, which must be word processed and properly annotated and have an appropriate bibliography. The final assessment will take into account presentation (including annotation and bibliography) as well as the academic content of the dissertation.
From Johnny Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow (2003) to Russell Crowe’s Robin Hood (2010), notions of outlawry haunt twenty-first century popular culture and recent academic debate. A fascination with renegade figures is also found in the early modern period. Developing first and second-year work on critical and theoretical approaches to literature, the module examines representations of Robin Hood and pirates in a range of generically distinct sixteenth- and seventeenth-century texts.
The aims of this module are to…
This course examines the ways in which England and Englishness have been presented and constructed in poetry and fiction in the modern period with a focus on the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. We will consider the ways in which belonging, inclusion, character, landscape and nationhood are produced in imagery, narrative, performativity and aesthetics. Englishness is often invoked explicitly in fictional works but it also works through more subtle forms of gesture, landscape and aesthetics. Students will be introduced to extracts of criticism on national identity and theories of Englishness but the primary focus of the course will be on fictions of England and Englishness and how texts interpolate English subjects and English places.
The labelling of the Second World War as the People’s War in Britain draws attention to the importance of the men and women who waged it. With the blurring of the Home and Battle Fronts, the conventional gender contract in which men fight to protect the vulnerable at home and women keep the home fires burning was challenged, not least by the revolutionary act of conscripting women to the war effort. In this module you will examine how the Second World War was experienced by a wide spectrum of British men and women, some of whom identified with the war effort, some of whom were deliberately excluded, or chose to challenge gender conventions in their choice of role. You’ll consider different categorisations of experience (military/civilian; home front/ battle front; male/female) and explore whether there was a hierarchy of service and subsequently of remembrance. Were gender roles in Britain really transformed by the exigencies of war? Through a wide range of written and visual sources, including autobiographical materials, poems, photographs, films, parliamentary minutes, newspapers, posters and cartoons, we will seek to understand individual and collective experiences of the war, and their gendered dimensions.
Film historians consider 1939 to be ‘the greatest year in the history of Hollywood’: in that year, 365 films were released and 80 million tickets sold. This module considers how literature and film interact and conflict in that year to construct mythologies of the American past and present in the context of the Great Depression and on the eve of the Second World War. The module also considers the context of Hollywood, the functions of motion picture palaces, American film’s relationship to British literature, and more.
Despite the commonplace idea that God had died by the end of the nineteenth century, religion remained very much in evidence at the fin de siècle. This is apparent in the literature produced in the period, and this module will examine a range of the writers who wrote about religion. Along the way, we will consider questions such as: the reasons for the return to religion among writers at the fin de siècle (c. 1880-1914); the debates raised by religious pluralism in the period; the experimental investigations into the relation of form to faith; and the broader questions of how literature mediates and speaks to the relationship between religion and the secular in the modern period. Although the literature on the course focuses on the Christian tradition (in both its Catholic and Protestant guises), we will also consider the way that other traditions (from Eastern Religions to Paganism to unbelief) and more mystical accounts of belief (e.g. theosophy) shape the writing of the period.
Is it possible to ‘read’ a painting? Can an artist interpret a poem in paint? This course addresses the complex relationship between literature and the visual arts, tracing key debates in aesthetic theory from Romanticism to the twenty-first century. Literature and the Visual Arts will begin with an introduction to key critical terms and an examination of the painting-inspired poetry of, for example, John Keats and W. H. Auden. Subsequent seminars will explore the work of figures such as William Blake, John Ruskin and the Pre-Raphaelites who blur the distinction between literature and art; the revival of the Pop Art tradition and postmodern narrative practices; and, finally, the fusion of word and image in graphic novels including Art Spiegelman’s Maus and Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi. The course will draw on the unique resources of the University’s Ruskin Library and rare book archive.
This course will trace the evolution of English literature in a period of convulsive social and political change that takes us from the Boer War to the Cold War, from the Victorian Age to the Space Age, and from the high-point of British imperialism to its ignominious post-War decline. It will also attend to the dynamics of literary history, focusing on the strain of radical experimentation that characterizes so much twentieth-century writing. We will examine the ways in which modernist writers from Eliot to Woolf found ways to renew and re-shape the language of literature; and we will consider how post-modernist writers, from Beckett to Pynchon, found solutions to the problem of how to follow the mighty achievements of their literary predecessors.
Using a range of texts and genres from 1790s to the 1820s this course will consider the importance of the physical human body, in health and sickness. Examining the historical context in which these texts were written, we will look at such topics as illness, death, doctors, medical treatments, recreational drug use, pregnancy, disability, physical strength, sexuality, sensuality, health, race, gender, physiognomy and phrenology. How did Romantic poets and prose writers imagine the body? What did they think of the distinction between the mind and body or between the body and soul? How was the body understood medically? How are people made ‘monsters’ in the period and for what political purpose? The course will explore how bodies are not to be thought of as neutral or ahistorical but instead as historically-contingent sites of discourse.
This module will be concerned with a selection of difficult but fascinating Victorian texts which in various ways violate the dominant realist code of their day and thus explore the borderland between sense and non-sense, seriousness and laughter, centre and margin. In this respect, the texts are written by those whom, after Michel Foucault, we might call 'Other Victorians.' Indeed, a unifying theme or motif will be the philosophical notion of ‘the Other,’ as first formulated by Hegel at the beginning of the nineteenth century and subsequently reworked by such contemporary theorists as Levinas and Derrida. The module will explore how, in Victorian writing, otherness is staged and imagined in all sorts of ways – including, for example, place, religion, science, consciousness, the future, thought, matter, dimension, tears, boats, and the face. Given that the texts under discussion all, in one sense or another, challenge conventional or rationalist modes of realising the world and do so in ways that raise a number of philosophical questions, students will be encouraged to respond to the texts both imaginatively and philosophically.
This module has the following Subject Specific aims:
‘[T]he Gothic’, as Nick Groom argues, ‘was not simply a reaction to the Enlightenment, and the rise of the Gothic novel is part of a longer history’ (Groom, 2012, p.xiv). In coining the term Premodern Gothic, this innovative half-unit considers some of the ways in which a range of generically diverse texts produced in England between c.1450 and 1600 engage with Gothic tropes and sensibilities - e.g. ghosts, vampires, castles, darkness, magic, terror and wonder - before ‘the rise of the Gothic novel’.
At a time when life was viewed as a constant struggle between good and evil within the human soul, how was the inner self conceived? Furthermore, when public life was a type of performance in itself, how did people publicly enact their identities? With an emphasis on close critical readings, this course aims to explore medieval identities by looking at manifestations of self in literature and drama; it will examine and challenge distinctions between public and private, questioning the concept of subjectivity in this period, and focus particularly on moments of personal crisis. As well as considering the role of performance in everyday life and organised drama, you will study the creation of narrative voices and personas in literary texts, and interrogate the interrelationship of text, ‘voice’ and performance. The course also contains a workshop element to develop close reading skills and introduce students to digital humanities study tools for the medieval period.
The course aims to provide a comprehensive introduction to John Ruskin, a key interdisciplinary figure from nineteenth-century cultural history. On the basis of his critical writings, Ruskin's thought and judgements will be pursued from their foundations in landscape, painting and architecture to their applications to moral, social, religious, scientific, educational and ecological issues. A particular and distinctive opportunity of the course will be its on-site access to the actual manuscripts and drawings held in the world-famous Ruskin Library here at Lancaster University
This module will run as a partnership between the Department of English and Creative Writing and the LUSU Volunteering Unit. It will give students planning to go into teaching a chance to experience teaching and classroom practice first-hand, at either primary or secondary level, in a local school during the Lent Term. The 10 week part-time placement will involve classroom observation and teacher assistance, and, in most cases, an opportunity to teach the class or to work with a designated group of pupils. It will also allow students to develop skills around a special project or activity carried out in the school related to the teaching of English. There will be interviews, presentations, and a rigorous training requirement with LUSU Volunteering Unit, including police vetting, and the actual placement in the school, arranged by LUSU staff, will then follow in the second term of your third year.
This course will trace the development of science fiction (SF) in literature and film, providing an insight into the conventions of the genre and, in particular, how the key themes of the science fiction genre have been successfully adapted for the screen. Texts have been chosen from a range of historical periods to enable a consideration of the cultural and historical contexts in which key science fiction texts were produced, and how this effects their development. The course will analyse in detail the formal and generic characteristics of the science fiction novel, and will provide an introduction to the visual aspects of the science fiction film. The course will integrate themes such as encounters with the alien or other (War of the Worlds, 2001, Monsters), the imagination of dystopia (The Dispossessed, Code 46, Moxyland), the future of humanity (Mad Max 2, 2001, Code 46) and questions of human subjectivity, transcendence, love and loss. The module will also constitute an ongoing investigation of the relationship between science fiction film and ‘literary’ SF texts, considering both how the genre is represented through the cinematic form and what happens in terms of narrative structure, plot and characterisation when presented in an audiovisual format.
This module sets out to explore three major American novelists who have recently written trilogies: Cormac McCarthy (The Border Trilogy), Philip Roth (The American Trilogy), and Marilynne Robinson’s three interlinked novels set in the fictional town of Gilead. In doing so, as well as enabling an extended engagement with the work of single writers, it will consider what the attractions of this extended form appear to be, and what it enables. It will also consider whether the form has proved especially beguiling and appropriate for American writers, and why that might be so. It will also explore how far the decision to write a trilogy seems to have been prospective as opposed to retrospective. The three writers selected offer considerable variety in terms both of style and subject matter, inhabiting the genre with a highly personal inflection; it might be argued that Robinson, the most recent, is the most apparently conventional in her practice (although her trilogy may well turn into a tetralogy). All three, however, are distinctively American, and the breadth of their form may reflect the fictional ambition seeking to ‘find/ Bravura adequate to this great hymn’ (Wallace Stevens). The course should interest those wishing to engage with 20th and 21st century American fiction as a means of thinking about America, but comes with a health warning: it requires, week by week, the careful reading of a substantial novel. ENGL 204 is a desirable but not compulsory preparation for it.
Ben Jonson claimed of Shakespeare ‘he was not of an age but for all time.’ This course examines Shakespearean drama and poetry in its own time: as a platform in which early modern debates about agency and government, family, national identity, were put into play, and in relation to how we perceive these issues now. The stage was and is a place in which issues of gender, class, race, gain immediacy through the bodies and voices of actors. By examining texts from across Shakespeare’s career, we will explore their power to shape thoughts and feelings in their own age and in ours. We will consider Shakespeare’s manipulation of genre (poetry, comedy, history, tragedy and romance) and the ways the texts make active use of language (verse, prose, rhyme, rhythm) and theatrical languages (costume, stage positions) to generate meaning. The course will consider how, in the past and in the present, Shakespeare’s texts exploit the emotional and political possibilities of poetry and drama
This module focuses on the phenomenon of 'Stalinism' in the USSR, but seeks to understand it by cutting across the usual chronological boundaries, in order to understand both its origins and its lasting consequences. The first set of seminars examine the origins of Stalinism by exploring the vexed question of whether earlier patterns of hierarchical authority and a poorly developed civil society in Tsarist Russia can in any useful sense be seen as factors in shaping post-revolutionary developments (in effect interrogating the old cliché that Stalin was a ‘Red Tsar’). The next set of seminars then examine the 1920s, not so much in terms of ‘Stalin's rise to power’, but rather in terms of seeing if that process was merely one outcome of a range of possible outcomes following the death of Lenin. The third set of seminars - the largest part of the module - examine the nature of Soviet politics and society during the time of Stalin's rule. Extensive use is made of diaries and memoir accounts to investigate the texture of ordinary life under Stalin (including the experiences of those in the gulag). This material is used to break down conventional assumptions about the nature of Stalinism by showing the extent to which everyday life continued even in a society marked by high levels of violence and terror. The final set of seminars then examine the 'shadows' of Stalinism in the USSR and Russia, by seeking to understand why both Stalin himself and the mythologised 'Stalin era' continue to exercise a degree of popular appeal on contemporary Russia. Students will engage throughout the module with a range of primary sources (memoirs, diaries, posters, propaganda films, etc). Each seminar will revolve around a defined set of secondary and primary sources.
This module examines the work of three of the great writers of the Romantic period, the poets Lord Byron and Percy Shelley, and the novelist Mary Shelley. Famously, these three writers lived and worked together during the summer of 1816, an episode that produced two of the dominant myths of modern literature, Frankenstein and the Vampire. Throughout their careers these writers were engaged in a creative and critical conversation with each other that addressed major themes including: conceptions of the heroic; the possibilities of political change; literary, scientific and biological creation; the East; transgressive love; gender roles; and the Gothic. The module will provide an opportunity to study these writers’ works in detail and to consider them within their historical, cultural and intellectual contexts.
This course examines the representation of people who are not who they claim to be -- impostors, impersonators and charlatans -- in modern literary fiction from the nineteenth century to the present day. We will consider both the ethics of impersonation (with a particular focus on questions of trust, deceit and manipulation) and the aesthetics of impersonation (the narrative conventions that have evolved to conceal and reveal the figure of the impostor). The course will provide students with a detailed knowledge of different kinds of impersonation and different motives for imposture; it will consider the affinities and differences between impostor narratives and other major narrative traditions, such as the Bildungsroman and the detective novel; and it will reflect on why the figure of the impostor occupies such a significant and problematic place in the modern imagination.
This module examines the representation of sleep and sleep-related states in literature and culture. Most of us will spend about a third of our lives asleep – which is to say that we will spend more time sleeping that doing anything else in our lives. But if sleep is arguably the most common human activity, it is also the least describable. Can sleep – a state that separates us from all sense of time, from language, and from rational self-awareness – even count as a region of human experience? Or is it simply a void that separates one day from the next? How, if at all, can the ‘void’ of sleep be represented in literature and culture? In what ways has literature shaped itself to fill this void? And how has literature responded to the erosion of sleep by modern industrial and post-industrial cultures?
This module will be of interest to students wishing to explore Anglophone fiction in another national context and in an international frame. The Indian novel in English is a fascinating, prolific domain of world literature that, particularly since the publication of Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children (1981), has generated a great deal of critical excitement.
The module explores chronologically a range of Anglophone Indian (or 'Indo-Anglian') novels, placing Rushdie's work in literary, historical and cultural context. We will explore, in particular, the relationship between nation and narration, or ways in which writers use different forms and styles to grapple with the diverse realities of modern India, its histories, and its diasporas. Engaging a range of perspectives (gendered, religious and regional), we will consider how and why fiction reflects key aspects of twentieth-century history, such as the legacies of colonial rule, the independence struggle, 'untouchability', Partition, women's rights, democracy, communalist tensions, and migration.
It is currently very difficult to imagine the future other than in dystopian terms, as climate disaster and social apocalypse (perhaps with a nuclear holocaust thrown in for good measure). It would seem, then, that we have great need of a literary form that would speak up for hope, justice and human perfectibility; and that form has traditionally been the genre of utopia. This course tracks through the history and transformations of the genre of utopia, from the Renaissance founding fathers (Thomas More and Francis Bacon), through such late nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century practitioners as Edward Bellamy, William Morris, Charlotte Perkins Gilman and H.G. Wells, to the great utopias of the 1960s and 1970s and beyond: Ursula Le Guin, Joanna Russ, Marge Piercy, Ernest Callenbach and Kim Stanley Robinson. We shall look at utopian theorising – such concepts as ‘kinetic utopia’, ‘critical utopia’ and ‘ecotopia’ – as well as the texts themselves. If you want to leave a decent human future to your grandchildren, start here!
This course treats the theory, history, and practice of Victorian autobiographies, providing students with a detailed knowledge of different kinds of autobiographies by different kinds of authors at different times in the Victorian era. Students who take this course will acquire a detailed knowledge of a significant tradition in Victorian writing.
In the Victorian period, the decaying castles, corrupt priests and ancestral curses that were so prominent in the first phase of the Gothic novel gave way to an increased emphasis on spectral and monstrous others: ghosts, werewolves, vampires, mummies and other creatures of the night. The course will explore these phenomena in their historical, cultural and literary contexts, with particular focus on emerging discourses of gender, sexuality, colonialism and class. The course will pay special attention to visual aspects of the Gothic, examining book illustration, painting and photography from the period and their relationship with Gothic texts. Students will be asked to consider the relationship between newly emergent forms of modernity (from medical discourses to the typewriter) and the preoccupation with history and the past that is a generic feature of the Gothic. Texts will comprise a selection of novels and short fiction, with additional images and extracts from contextual works provided on Moodle and in class.
This module will be centred upon three genres which emerge in the mid-late Victorian period: Detective Fiction; Adventure Stories; Children’s Fiction. It will focus on key texts and writers within the emerging genres by looking at how certain conventions, principles and core concerns develop, as well as considering issues of literary status and canonicity.
The module studies one key text each week but will make connections across texts. Within each session you will explore texts in terms of overlapping themes within a genre, and the issues raised for how subjects are interpreted; as well as thinking about issues of narrative structure and voice, and the involvement of the reader. At the start of each three week period there will be a short introductory lecture establishing themes/ideas and generic issues for the form.
The module will also encourage you to consider the differences made by different forms of representation (e.g. serialisation for adventure stories; illustrations alongside the story for Holmes; initial dramatic representation of Peter Pan).
This course will be attractive to anyone interested in the creative process and how we can respond to it. The course aims to teach you to think in a radically new way about texts by looking at how they come into being, and studying the process of creativity through draft and manuscript materials from famous Romantic writers (Wordsworth, Blake, Keats, Byron, Mary Shelley). The published text will never look the same again!
We will explore the processes of composition in major Romantic and Victorian writers from the earliest stages to the production of the published text and its first reception. As well as thinking about the habits, anxieties and strategies of individual writers (male and female) we will also be looking at the problems such issues create for later readers and editors. At a textual level the course will engage with a number of different forms: contemporary journals, letters, diaries and review articles, considering how to make best use of these forms. The course will trace the changes made to a text through different draft versions and will draw upon manuscript (transcription) material in order to teach you how to respond to such material.
Information for this module is currently unavailable.
In A Room of One’s Own Virginia Woolf famously asks ‘what would have happened had Shakespeare had a wonderfully gifted sister?’, and goes on to explore the obstacles to literary success that she might have encountered. This course follows Woolf’s lead by seeking to redress the historical marginalisation of women writers in the English literary canon through an exploration of how women have come to writing at different historical moments, what they have chosen to write, and how. A selection of texts from the 17th century through to the 21st, encompassing autobiographical forms, the novel, poetry and drama, are used to examine relationships between gender, sexuality, race/ethnicity and literary production, and to explore continuities, connections and disparities between representations of female experience. The course is historical in terms of both the range of primary texts it addresses, and also the history of feminist theoretical and critical approaches it provides.
Why are Castles the setting and site of so much writing, from Gawain and the Green Knight to modern fantasy like Game of Thrones? This module uses the historic site of Lancaster Castle to explore these questions by investigating historical fiction, drama, testimonies, poetry, political tracts associated with the Castle and its history. Although, or perhaps because, Lancaster Castle is owned by the monarch in her title as Duke of Lancaster, it is the site of some of the most significant writings subverting centralised power embodied by the Church and State. What different kinds of protest do these writings give voice to? You will study a selection of texts in the historic site to which they relate as it is restored. You will thus learn how heritage sites are constructed and used by institutions and by writers of current and historical fiction, testimonies and political tracts, songs, poetry and drama.
Lancaster University offers a range of programmes, some of which follow a structured study programme, and others which offer the chance for you to devise a more flexible programme. We divide academic study into two sections - Part 1 (Year 1) and Part 2 (Year 2, 3 and sometimes 4). For most programmes Part 1 requires you to study 120 credits spread over at least three modules which, depending upon your programme, will be drawn from one, two or three different academic subjects. A higher degree of specialisation then develops in subsequent years. For more information about our teaching methods at Lancaster visit our Teaching and Learning section.
Information contained on the website with respect to modules is correct at the time of publication, but changes may be necessary, for example as a result of student feedback, Professional Statutory and Regulatory Bodies' (PSRB) requirements, staff changes, and new research.
Your degree will help you develop confident analytical and research skills; the ability to form sound judgements based on statistical research, and the capacity to analyse issues, people and events. Such transferable skills will stand you in good stead for your chosen career.
Many of our graduates go on to careers traditionally associated with English and creative writing, such as publishing and the media, teaching and librarianship. Others find roles in business, administration and professional services, where their skills of self-expression and critical understanding of complex information are equally valued.
A number of our English Literature and History graduates regularly go on to take higher degrees, at Lancaster or another institution.
We set our fees on an annual basis and the 2018/19 entry fees have not yet been set.
As a guide, our fees in 2017 were:
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the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. You can find more details here:
For full details of the University's financial support packages including eligibility criteria, please visit our fees and funding page
Optional field trips may be offered on this course for which students will be required to pay their travel costs
Students also need to consider further costs which may include books, stationery, printing, photocopying, binding and general subsistence on trips and visits. Following graduation it may be necessary to take out subscriptions to professional bodies and to buy business attire for job interviews.
Average time in lectures, seminars and similar
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