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Cultural History, Memory and Identity MA (formerly Histories and Cultures)


Course Description

The interdisciplinary postgraduate programme in Cultural History, Memory and Identity is concerned with the cultural practices and media of ‘history-making’; with the cultural representation and interpretation of ‘history’; and with the role of constructions of ‘the past’ within cultural and social formations. It is grounded in current interdisciplinary methodologies informed by cultural and critical theory, and draws on the course team’s specific areas of expertise within social, cultural and political history, cultural studies, literary studies, film and visual studies, the history of art, architecture and design, and the history of ideas. In ethos the programme develops a connexion between critical understanding and analysis of the origins, forms and effects of cultural constructions of history, with a practical, ‘hands-on’ emphasis upon the skills and methods involved in the making of new historical accounts and representations. The programme incorporates interests and expertise spanning a wide range of cultural forms and practices, including oral history, life-story work and auto/biography, drama and performance, architecture and the built environment, material artefacts, monuments, exhibitions, museums, written histories, imaginative literature, archival documents and records, painting, graphic design, photography, film, television, video, multimedia and virtual reality, commemoration, and heritage.

These concerns are developed in relation to three pathways, each of which explores a particular field of enquiry with its own distinctive thematic and methodological focus: Cultural Memory; Making Histories; ‘Race’, Nation and Ethnicity. MA students enrol on one of these pathways; not all run every year. [For further details of the three pathways, see separate entries under these titles on this website.]

Each pathway comprises six component elements:

1: A compulsory Core Course unit taught in Term One that establishes the themes, issues and questions that characterize the field of enquiry, and the theories and methods of its investigation:

For Cultural Memory [CM]: Cultural Memory: Concepts, Theories and Methods
For Making Histories [MH]: Making Histories
For ‘Race’, Nation and Ethnicity [RNE]: Constructions of Britishness: Histories, Cultures and Identities

2: One of two designated Core Option units, available in Terms Two and Three of the programme respectively, which investigate particular themes, contexts, debates, practices, representations, archives/collections. Students must take one of these:

For CM: Cultural Memory in Ireland - Conflict Resolution and the Irish Troubles; Holocaust Memory;
For MH: Making Histories and the South-East Film and Video Archive; Gender, Family and Empire - Life History Work in the Wolseley Collection;
For RNE: The Making of the Black Atlantic - Transformations of History, Representation and Identity;
History, Memory and Identity in Postcolonial Fictions.

NB: these units may vary, and not all will be available in any one year. For up-to-date information, contact the Course Leader.

3: One further Free Option unit, normally the second Core Option unit on your pathway. Alternatively you may choose (subject to agreement/availability) either a unit from one of the other pathways of this MA; or a unit from another MA, eg Cultural and Critical Theory.

4: A Research Methods unit introducing relevant methods in cultural studies, historical inquiry, literary (textual) analysis, and cultural and critical theory; and guiding the formulation of a research topic with clear aims, methodology, sources, and a rationale for the intended treatment of the topic.

5 and 6: The Research Project enables students to investigate in depth a topic of their choice - a critical debate, or a body of cultural material, or an historical context - relevant to the broad concerns of the MA. Research normally leads to the production of a 20,000-word dissertation. The use of alternative modes of presentation - for example, the production of a video, an exhibition or a CD-Rom - may also be negotiated.

Full-time students take two elements per term, part-time students take one. The pattern of study is flexible in order to allow all students to take advantage of the full range of Options. Potential applicants are advised to discuss their particular interests with the Course Leader to explore how these might be accomodated. In cases where students’ preferred pathways or units are not available, there is usually scope to pursue these interests elsewhere on the programme, whether in relation to other units or through the Research Project.

A part-time student should expect to dedicate some 20 hours a week to their studies and a full-time student some 40 hours, mostly taken up by independent reading and writing. Teaching for all Core Courses and Core Options normally takes place on weekday evenings and lasts 2 - 3 hours. Research Methods timetabling is negotiated with each group. The Research Project involves individual tuition at times agreed between student and supervisor.

The interdisciplinary course team are active researchers who contributed to the University’s achievement of grade 5 (reflecting work of international standing) in Art and Design in the 2001 Research Assessment Exercise.

Visit the Cultural History, Memory and Identity MA (formerly Histories and Cultures) page on the University of Brighton website for more details!

Entry Requirements

Normally 2:1 but 2.2 poss., range of disciplines, or relevant professional/historical experience

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