Full time 12 Month(s), Part time 24 Month(s)
The MA in English Literary Studies offers several different pathways each specialising in a period or area of study, and enabling students to craft a degree that suits them:
You will study a range of modules as part of your course, some examples of which are listed below.
The modules ENGL419M and ENGL149LS are intended for all MA students and for new first year Ph.D. students who have not taken an MA at Lancaster (it is designed in accordance with UK research councils training guidance). Seminars will run across terms 1 and 2, and dissertation supervision and a conference will take place in term 3. The modules aim to equip you with a range of skills, approaches and competences to draw on as early career researchers in the field of English Literary Studies and/or Creative Writing. As generalist modules, they are designed to complement the more specialist training you receive in seminars and supervisions. The modules will include sessions on research and writing skills, working with archives, working with theory, and will encourage reflection on the work of literary research. The modules will be assessed by a portfolio of tasks (that will be outlined fully within the seminar sessions). In the summer term, the module will conclude with a conference – organised by the students themselves – at which they will all give a paper relating to their research.
This module is designed to give students both the freedom and the responsibility of negotiating, with an assigned tutor, their own area of study and/or writing within the perimeters of the particular MA pathway they have chosen. This study can be pursued either alone or with other students and takes the form of a structured series of tutorials with a member of the MA team. The students will share, with the tutor, the responsibility for designing the course of study and/or writing. The study and/or writing proposal will be formulated by the student, using a form that can be obtained from the Department’s postgraduate office. This form needs to be submitted along with your option form. It must then be approved by both the tutor and the MA convenor (Dr Liz Oakley-Brown).
The topic for study and/or writing is entirely open. If creative, it could take the form of a sequence of poems, short story, or the opening of a novel, along with a piece of reflective writing. If critical, it could, for example, take the form of a study of a single author (e.g. Emily Dickinson); a particular period, movement or moment (e.g. Decadence); the literature of a particular nation or region (e.g. North Africa); or a specific literary theme (e.g. revolutions). Alternatively, it could be linked to a Research Centre and/or special library collection and/or department reading group and/or conference hosted at Lancaster, and/or series of guest seminars given by a visiting scholar or writer. Obvious examples include: the seminars given here by Terry Eagleton and the Ruskin Seminars. The curator of the Ruskin Library, Professor Stephen Wildman, is available to supervise a special subject topic.
The student and the tutor will meet for a series of tutorials and plan the work on a mutually agreed time-scale. Since this module is assessed in the same way as other MA modules the module will occupy one term.
One essay or equivalent, normally of 5000 words, is the method of assessment (for creative writing projects, this word count includes a 1,000-word reflective piece).
This module examines the range and variety of contemporary British fiction. Its five subdivisions are designed to highlight the different ways in which the sense of time manifests itself in present-day fiction – from the minimalism of Cusk and McGregor’s 24-hour novels to the temporal panoramas of Barnes and Mitchell’s fragmented world histories -- and to foster debate about the contemporary novel’s complex relationship with its modernist and realist forebears.
This module focuses on the idea of the ‘posthuman’ in fiction and film. It explores a range of literary and filmic texts from Romanticism to Postmodernism that have explored the question of what, if anything, might come ‘after’ the human race. To explore the figure of the posthuman in more detail, we will focus on a series of recurring tropes in posthumanist literature from H. G. Wells to Lars von Trier: the god, the monster; the robot; the cyborg and the clone. We will also place these texts in the context of various contemporary philosophical, religious, political and scientific debates surrounding the meaning (or meaninglessness) of human existence. In summary, the course will ask such questions as: why is the end of the human race such an enduring subject of fascination for writers and film-makers? Is it possible for human beings to imagine a world without human beings? Finally, what might a world after the human race look like?
This module addresses the ways that contemporary literature, film and television engage with the Gothic literary tradition. Focusing specifically on texts produced since 2000, it explores the continuing relevance of Gothic in contemporary culture. The module aims to demonstrate the diversity and increasing hybridity of contemporary Gothic and with this in mind, enquires what happens when Gothic cross-fertilises a range of other modes and genres including musical, soap opera, noir, documentary, comedy, science fiction and the historical novel. It examines how traditional Gothic personae from vampires and ghosts to guilty fathers and disturbed children may find new life in the twenty-first century, and how traditional Gothic spaces from the haunted house to the fairground may be refigured in postmodern British and American culture. Finally, it reflects on what critics mean when they talk about Gothic and the ways in which the term is put to work in both popular media and in academic criticism. The self-reflexively uncanny properties of books, films, DVDs and other media will be a central feature of many of the texts under discussion, foregrounding the echoes and continuities between Gothic and postmodern fictional forms.
Each seminar will be based around two parallel strands, covering literature and television/film from 2000 to the present day. Screenings of the relevant films/programmes will be timetabled during the week preceding the seminar. Students will find it useful to have some prior knowledge of Gothic literature and/or film, but this is not essential.
This module examines the formal, historical, generic, cultural, intercultural, and interhistorical relationships between Victorian literature and other media, including painting, illustration, theatre, music, film, television, and new media.
This module explores the evolution of prose fiction from the late Romantic era through the first two decades of Victoria’s reign. A defining focus of the course will be on the ways in which the Victorian novel negotiates with Romantic legacies: the primacy of self, the necessity of intellectual and personal liberty and an ambivalence towards the past are crucial to the development of the genre. The historical frame of the course allows us to move from James Hogg’s Confessions of a Justified Sinner (1824) to Herman Melville’s Moby Dick (1851), one of the first novels of the American ‘Renaissance’. We will consider the shaping presence of other genres in the development of nineteenth-century fiction, including spiritual autobiography and the long poem. Historical contexts will also be emphasised with particular reference to the religious and political debates of the period. We will explore the emergence of the novelist as a major cultural figure and interrogate the ways in which the writers under review both internalise and contest the ethical, spiritual and economic forces of their historical moment.
This module seeks to explore textual constructions of nineteenth-century urban spaces and those who inhabit them. What does it mean to live in the city in the nineteenth century and what might the city mean to its inhabitants and to the English population at large? We will consider the ways in which different types of space - the street, the graveyard, the house – are meaningful as well as the different ways more general conceptions of ‘the city’ are articulated across the century. We will pay attention to issues such as mobility, transport, technology, Englishness, class, gender, ethnicity, and religion, and we will engage with different theories of space and place (by authors such as Simmel, Heidegger, Bachelard and Massey). Throughout the course we will address the relationship between representation and place and how different types of imaginative literature present their urban spaces.
How are bodies configured in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century texts and how do we read them from a twenty-first century perspective? What cultural weight do bodies bear when represented as gendered; as icons of nationhood or mortality; as objects of desire - sometimes of violent desire - in literary texts? Is social identity inevitably shaped by corporeality or do the processes of bodily exposure and concealment offer ways of self-fashioning? This module addresses these questions by examining the ways in which embodied identities are contingently constructed in a period of religious and political and change.
This module uses contemporary theoretical models to explore the relationship between emotions and place in examples of early modern English literature. It begins by looking at the ways space is mapped in written and pictorial records, with an introduction to items in the Rare Book Archive in the Library and the electronic archive Early English Books Online. Site specific studies of texts (e.g. in Lancaster Castle and Penshurst Place) combine with study of fantasy sites like More’s Utopia (no-place) and early science fiction and travel writing. The course can be taken as part of the early modern pathway or as a stand alone module for those interested in developing transhistorical understandings of politics and place.
The module takes as its primary material three trilogies published in the last 15 years of the twentieth century: Paul Auster's New York Trilogy, Toni Morrison's trilogy comprising Beloved, Jazz, and Paradise, and Cormac McCarthy's Border Trilogy.
This module is about reading poetry and some other representative texts in relation to place. It focuses mainly on Wordsworth, both in himself and as a representative figure, but includes other writers and theorists.
We will be combining close study of texts and ideas of how landscape was (and is) viewed, with use of actual locations and a strong sense of place on the summer term field trip. The course aims to provide participants with a strong sense of Eighteenth, Nineteenth and Twentieth-Century perceptions of place, through close study of key concepts such as the Picturesque and the Sublime and travel writings about the Lake District. It will then go on to focus on a range of Romantic authors looking at poetic and other texts in relation to issues of place and space. In particular we will dwell upon Wordsworth as the pre-eminent poet of place in relation to the Lakes, but the course will also study other Romantic and Victorian writing.
The module will consider key issues in relation to selected texts: the representation of real places and inhabitants in literature; different ways of “dwelling”; the value and importance of place names; imaginative appropriation of the actual. At the same time it will also place such ideas within a wider context in terms of current methodologies, particularly links between Romanticism and the conservation movement (“Romantic Ecology”), heritage and phenomenology of place as well as theories of representations which will be applied to literary texts, paintings, and buildings.
This module – distinctive in its focus on the wider Middle East – explores twentieth and twenty-first century narrative texts by women writers, examining creative literary engagements with (post)colonial histories, societies and politics. Novels and memoirs are read alongside theory drawn from various disciplines – literary criticism, history, geography, sociology and anthropology. The texts represent a range of responses to colonialism, national identity, patriarchy, Islam, migration and transnationalism. Key themes are revolution; the female body in private and public space; violence; education; modes of resistance; memory; testimony; and the politics of representation.
The module seeks to challenge the conventional tendency to think of the Victorian era as an age of moderation, as 'a land / In which it seemed always the afternoon' (to quote Tennyson). We shall, therefore, be paying close attention to the many extremes and extremities within Victorian culture: for example extreme faith, extreme doubt, extreme chauvinism, and extreme feminism, as well as margins, peripheries and minorities. Throughout we shall be exploring the relation between these Victorian extremes and the coming of Modernity. This exploration will include writings beyond the chronological extreme of what we normally think of as the Victorian period. Some of the texts are only available as reprints: see below for recommended reprint editions.
This module is a core postgraduate course for the interdisciplinary study of literature and film. It examines their relations in the contexts of word and image debates, interart and intermedial discourses, theories of adaptation, and case studies. It fulfils both RVL and M&CLS course requirements, addressing issues that apply to both schemes of study, materials particular to each field of study, setting them in dialogue.
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 (in Mary Shelley's novel) and the Vampire (in a story based on Byron by another member of the group, John Polidori) - both of which we will examine. 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 in detail these writers' works and to consider them within their historical, cultural and intellectual contexts.
This module will explore different forms of the adventure story as it emerges and develops across the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. We will consider themes across the whole such as the role of hero and antihero; adult/child readership; gender and imperialism; material factors such as serial publication and the presentation of images and maps alongside the text.
This module is concerned with texts that mix genres; in particular, such genres as critical essay, philosophical treatise, poetry, comic dialogue, fragment, novel, anecdote, manifesto, autobiography, history, textual commentary, and travelogue. Special attention will be paid to texts that blur the genre-boundary that, traditionally, separates critical writing from creative writing, and students will be invited, if they wish, to submit such texts themselves.
The aim of this MA module will be to give students at a more advanced level a chance to engage with long poetic texts by bringing them to bear upon each other. The course develops out of a particular research expertise in the form of the long poem as well as my role as General Editor of The Reading Guides to Long Poems series with Edinburgh University Press and interest in textual criticism, editing and the “mapping” of works. Close work on The Prelude feeds directly into a new immersive week at The Wordsworth Trust which is centred upon this text.
This module will explore literary modernism as a multiple, or plural movement that, in truly modernist spirit, refuses any single definition of itself, just as one might expect of a movement that really is a movement, something that moves, and still moves and thus exceeds even itself, in particular the periodised, rationalised and generically limited version of itself, as institutionalised by the academy. The course will, then, explore a host of ‘other’ modernisms including, inter alia, manifesto modernism, political modernism, trench-war modernism, surrealist modernism, philosophical modernism, Holocaust modernism, theatrical modernism, comic modernism, and even a modernism-for-now that incorporates a literary-critical modernism - a modernism within literary criticism that might yet challenge the realist and, as it were, ‘Victorian’ conventions of conventional academic scholarship. Students can, if they wish, submit just such experimental or, critical-creative work instead of a conventional essay.
This module will focus on the interdisciplinary relationship between literature, science and medicine in the Romantic period and will examine the ways in which scientific thought is expresssed in culture, history and politics;
Students will develop a range of interdisciplinary interpretive skills by guided reading of an eclectic range of texts, from scientific speculation, poetry, novels, lectures and periodical essays. The module seeks to identify and cross established discipline boundaries while developing an understanding of Romantic-period literature and culture.
This module provides an exciting opportunity to study major texts of British Romanticism in the locations where they were written and that they describe, the English Lake District and the Alps. After introductory seminars taught at Lancaster, we will undertake two four-day field trips, one to the Lake District and one to the Alps. The first field trip will be based in Grasmere and will study the work of William and Dorothy Wordsworth, making use of the archives of the Wordsworth Trust's Jerwood Centre while also visiting key outdoor locations central to poems such as ‘Michael’, ‘Home at Grasmere’ and The Prelude. The second trip will be to the Alps and will focus on works by Lord Byron (e.g. Manfred), Percy Shelley (e.g. 'Mont Blanc') and Mary Shelley (e.g. Frankenstein). It will involve visits to the Alpine locations associated with these writers, such as Chamonix, the Mer de Glace, Lac Leman and Chillon Castle.
This module offers an introduction to understanding and exploring ideas of space, movement and identity in relation to major writers and texts across the nineteenth century. We will read key writers of place alongside a range of relevant spatial and philosophical texts and extracts for each of the thematic themes that are addressed across the module.
The module focuses on three themes: walking and writing; mapping literary place and space; and interior and exterior. We use these themes to think about how place and space are constructed through movement, action and reaction, as well as to consider how the visual representation of place via maps can transform the ways we understand the world around us. We consider multiple types of place, including rural farmland, mountains and lakes, islands, cities and the home. We will place these themes in the context of twentieth-century thinking on place and space via the works of phenemenologists like Maurice Merleau Ponty and spatial theorists, including Gaston Bachelard, Michel de Certeau, Henri Lefebvre, Franco Moretti and Yi Fu Tuan.
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.
Duration: 12 months, full-time; 24 months, part-time
Entry requirements: An upper second class honours degree, or its equivalent, in English Literature or related subject
IELTS: Overall IELTS of 7.0 with a minimum of 6.5 in each element
Assessment: Combination of coursework, dissertation and research methodology portfolio
Funding: All applicants should consult our information on fees and funding.
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