Our MA in English Studies invites you to choose from a number of distinctive pathways through the programme.
Our Writing in the Modern Age pathway explores 20th and 21st century literature and culture. Its core module, ‘Modernism and After’, tracks the central debates that run through modern writing and criticism. What is ‘modern’ and what comes after it? What counts as ‘art’? How have relations between ‘high’ and ‘low’ altered over time? How does writing relate to racial or gendered ‘otherness’? How has writing rethought the politics of freedom and containment? How does literature change with new recording and distribution formats? How can criticism deal with creativity? These questions open up the last 120 years or so of literary and cultural innovation, and frame all the other modules you choose to take.
Writing in the Modern Age is a literature MA with an interdisciplinary, cross-cultural mindset. Our optional modules don’t just examine London or New York modernism, but consider how modernism looks from Cape Town, or Dublin, or Kingston, Jamaica. It offers a long view of the modern age, with modules from the fin-de-siècle to the very contemporary. Other modules on psychoanalysis, form, war legacies, and critical theory examine how intimately modern literary innovation has been bound together with the disciplines of modern self-understanding and group identity. All will help you shape your particular question for the dissertation, which you’ll work on one-to-one with academic staff during the final third of the year.
Studied: MA in English Studies: Writing in the Modern Age, graduated 2009
Currently: PhD candidate at Sussex University
Why did you choose Queen Mary?
Having previously completed my undergraduate studies at Queen Mary, I was already assured of the administrative and academic structures of the department; they are excellent! I was also fortunate enough to know, before I began, that I wanted to continue in academia to write a PhD on Thomas Pynchon but that, if I took the same academic path as most studying this author, I would likely end up with the same conclusions; hardly innovative scholarship. Therefore, I opted for a background in Modernism at Queen Mary, an unusual path in my field, but one which has allowed me to work with a different perspective to others. The staff at Queen Mary were supportive of this idea and supremely capable at every stage of the course. Queen Mary is also a great place to work. You have a beautiful campus environment with all the benefits of Senate House and the British Library right on your doorstep.
What did you gain from your time at Queen Mary?
Postgraduate study greatly enhanced my research methodology. The training in techniques for the systematic study of literature in context has contributed immensely to both my critical thinking and research practice. The staff were knowledgeable and dedicated. Without their support throughout, I would not have succeeded in my application for AHRC funding at doctoral level, with which they were more than willing to help. The MA environment is also highly stimulating in social terms. The people on the course are all there because they love the subject and the common ground prepared by this shared passion makes for an unparalleled learning, and social, experience. In the end, I look back on my time at Queen Mary as the ideal preparation for my ambitions to enter an academic career. Perhaps, if I'm lucky, I'll end up back there one day – on the teaching side!
What are your career plans in the next five years?
I hope to complete my PhD in approximately three years time and, at that stage, apply for research and teaching posts in higher education. In the meantime, I have just had my first invitation to speak at an international conference and am involved in the establishment of an interdisciplinary online journal.
Most applicants will have an undergraduate degree with a first or good upper second class honours (or the equivalent) in English or such related fields as History, Cultural Studies and Media Studies.Where a North American marking scheme is used, applicants should have a minimum grade point average (GPA) of 3.2. Promising applicants who do not meet the formal academic criteria but who possess relevant credentials and who can demonstrate their ability to produce written work at Master's level will also be considered. Applicants may be invited to interview or asked to submit examples of written and/or creative work.
Recipient: Queen Mary University of London
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