This MA has two strands: Modernism and Contemporary Literature. These are two areas in which the department has particular research strengths. The programme has two core courses: one on Modernism, both classic modernism and late modernism, and one on the contemporary. Students take both core courses.
In Term 1, the Modernism core course is ‘Modernism, Modernity and History’, while the Contemporary core course is ‘Contemporary Literature’.
In Term 2, the Modernism strand consists of ‘Modernist Special Topics’ and the Contemporary strand consists of ‘Contemporary Special Topics’. Each of these courses in Term 2 is made up of two five-week ‘Special Topic’ units, each of which reflects a particular departmental research interest.
For 2014-15, the modernist special topics will be ‘1930s, Politics and the Avant Garde’ and ‘Postcolonial Modernism: Crises and Experiments in the African Novel’, while the contemporary special topics will be ‘The City in Contemporary Fiction;’ and ‘Contemporary Women’s Poetry and Poetics’. The special topics are likely to change from year to year.
The course will explore a range of twentieth and twenty first-century British, North American and post-colonial literature and will reflect on some of the historical, intellectual, cultural and technological changes of this era. You will have the opportunity to study with scholars who have international reputations in their fields and develop advanced skills in literary study and research.
There is also scope to work on individual authors, on various topics in literary and cultural theory, as well as a variety of literatures in English for your dissertation.
This course is ideal if you intend to progress to advanced research or simply wish to develop your knowledge of modern literature and your critical skills beyond first-degree level.
- All members of staff are actively engaged in major research projects: the Department was awarded a 4* rating in the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise (RAE). This commitment to scholarly research means all our postgraduate courses are informed by the latest developments in literary studies.
- The Department has major research strengths in twentieth-century and twenty-first-century literature and in contemporary critical theory.
- The College provides all the IT facilities and training that students need in order to access the burgeoning resources for study on the Internet.
- Our excellent library resources span the full range of English studies and you will also have access to the University of London Library at Senate House as well as the British Library and the many specialist libraries located in central London.
Course content and structure
Full-time students will take 2 courses in each Terms 1 and 2; and write a dissertation in Term 3 and across the summer vacation. Part-time students normally take the 2 course units in terms 1 and 2 of their first year, 2 more in the second and also write their dissertation during the second year.
Course units: Modernism Strand Term 1: Modernism, Modernity and History This unit comprises a series of seminars on such topics as Modernism and the avant-garde; modernity, mass culture and technology; race, gender and primitivism; modernism and politics. You will be introduced to various modernist movements (Futurism, Imagism, Surrealism) and to the ways in which Modernism has been conceptualized in relation to modernity.
Term 2: Modernist Special Topics The course for 2014 contains two five-week components. The first provides an advanced introduction to the relationship between avant-garde prose and politics in the 1930s. The second will explore the re-appropriation and re-tooling of modernist aesthetic strategies by a range of contemporary African writers to address the crises of the post-colonial state and of post-colonial subjectivity. You will engage with the work of a number of post-colonial theorists and investigate a range of key texts by African writers.
Contemporary Strand Term 1: Contemporary Literature The course will address a range of literary works which engage with such topics as globalisation, transnationalism, and global terror as well as magic realism, postmodernism and Conceptual Writing. You will consider contemporary fiction, poetry, post-colonial writing and writing across media as part of an exploration of the contemporary.
Term 2: Contemporary Special Topics The course for 2014 contains two five-week components on contemporary fiction and contemporary poetry respectively. The first provides an advanced introduction to the fictional writings about globalisation and mobility.
The second provides an advanced introduction to the work of selected contemporary women poets. You will read these texts in the context of current debates in innovative poetics and in relation to modernist strategies of avant-garde practice by previous women writers. You will explore how these contemporary poets have utilised, adapted and/or transformed modernist strategies of practice and to what ends.
Dissertation You will write a dissertation of 12-15,000 words on an approved topic, during the summer term and summer vacation, with support from a tutor.
On completion of the course graduates will have: - achieved an understanding of the intertwined issues of modernity, modernism and the contemporary as they are reflected in literary and theoretical writings in the twentieth- and twenty-first centuries
- improved their literary, analytic and research skills at an advanced level
- shown themselves able to work independently on an extended research project
- provided the platform for further postgraduate work, should they wish to undertake it.
Assessment is carried out by essays and a dissertation.
Employability & career opportunities
The Department has an impressive record for placing graduates in academic jobs and in prominent positions outside academia. In the field of twentieth-century literature our postgraduates have recently secured positions at Queen Mary, University of London, the Universities of Wales, Nottingham, Lancaster, Newbold College and elsewhere; and have published academic books with Cambridge University Press, Palgrave, Berg and other publishers; as well as popular books on gay studies, music and other topics.
The English Department also prepares postgraduates for successful careers in a variety of other areas, such as teaching, writing and journalism, curating, administration and marketing.