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American Literatures - MA


Course Description

Gain a rich understanding of the variety and interconnections of American writing, exploring major poetic, fictional, non-fictional and dramatic works. American literature is topical and contemporary; Author Junot Díaz’s book The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao was declared the best novel of the 21st century (so far!). This is just one of the novels that you will have the opportunity to study on this course.

At Essex, we challenge the study of the United States as a territorially bound space by embracing an expanded conception of ‘America’, which explores the richness of U.S. and Caribbean literatures in dialogue. This allows you to formulate sophisticated analyses of the role of space and place in the production of American writing and identities.

You explore how cultural geography may be integrated into literary history, concentrating on American literatures topics including:
-How violence and conflict have shaped writing across the American tropics
-The difference between reality and the “American Dream”
-Caribbean modernities and post-colonialism
-US nationalism and regionalism in literature
-African American literature

Our department is ranked Top 20 in the UK (Guardian University Guide 2015) and in the Top 200 worldwide (QS World University Rankings), and three-quarters of our research is rated ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’ (REF 2014).

This course is also available on a part-time basis.

Our expert staff

At Essex, we have an impressive literary legacy. Our history comprises staff (and students) who have shaped writing as we know it and has included Nobel Prize winners, Booker Prize winners, and Pulitzer Prize winners.

This course reflects our longstanding strengths in the literatures and cultures of the Americas, particularly the US South and Caribbean regions. You are taught by leading area specialists who have researched and published extensively on Caribbean and US literatures:
-Professor Maria Cristina Fumagalli has published widely on Caribbean literature and culture, including her recent book On the Edge: Writing the Border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic
-Dr Owen Robinson is a US literature specialist with particular interests in William Faulkner and the US South; forthcoming publications include Myriad City: Towards a Literary Geography of New Orleans
-Dr Jak Peake has broad interests across Caribbean and US writing, with particular expertise in Trinidadian literature; forthcoming publications include Between the Bocas: A Literary Geography of Western Trinidad

We are an interdisciplinary department and our academic staff have expertise in literature, film theory and practice, drama, creative writing and journalism.

Specialist facilities

-Meet fellow readers at the student-run Literature Society or at our department’s Myth Reading Group
-Write for our student magazine Albert or host a Red Radio show
-View classic films at weekly film screenings in our dedicated 120-seat film theatre
-Learn from leading writers and literature specialists at weekly research seminars
-Our on-campus Lakeside Theatre has been established as a major venue for good drama, staging both productions by professional touring companies and a wealth of new work written, produced and directed by our own staff and students
-Improve your playwriting and performance skills at our Lakeside Theatre Workshops
-Our Research Laboratory allows you to collaborate with professionals, improvising and experimenting with new work which is being tried and tested

Your future

A good literature degree opens many doors.

We offer supervision for PhD, MPhil and MA by dissertation in different literatures and various approaches to literature, covering most aspects of early modern and modern writing in English, plus a number of other languages.

Our University is one of only 11 AHRC-accredited Doctoral Training Centres in the UK. This means that we offer funded PhD studentships which also provide a range of research and training opportunities. A number of our Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies graduates have gone on to undertake successful careers as writers, and others are now established as scholars, university lecturers, teachers, publishers, publishers’ editors, journalists, arts administrators, theatre artistic directors, drama advisers, and translators.

We work with our Employability and Careers Centre to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.

Example structure

Postgraduate study is the chance to take your education to the next level. The combination of compulsory and optional modules means our courses help you develop extensive knowledge in your chosen discipline, whilst providing plenty of freedom to pursue your own interests. Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field, therefore to ensure your course is as relevant and up-to-date as possible your core module structure may be subject to change.

MA American Literartures
-Research Methods in Literary and Cultural Analysis
-War, Violence & Conflict in the American Tropics
-US Nationalism and Regionalism
-"There is a Continent Outside My Window" : United States and Caribbean Literatures in Dialogue
-Dissertation
-The New Nature Writing (optional)
-Writing the Novel (optional)
-Memory Maps: Practices in Psychogeography (optional)
-Dramatic Structure (optional)
-Literature and Performance in the Modern City
-Early Modern to Eighteenth Century Literature
-Georgian and Romantic Literature and Drama
-Adaptation
-Documentary and the Avant-garde: Film, Video, Digital
-Film and Video Production Workshop
-Advanced Film and Industry: Production and Industry
-African American Literature (optional)
-Sea of Lentils: Modernity, Literature, and Film in the Caribbean
-Writing Magic (optional)
-Literature and the Environmental Imagination: 19th to 21st Century Poetry and Prose (optional)

Visit the American Literatures - MA page on the University of Essex website for more details!

Entry Requirements

We will consider applications with an overall grade of 2:2 and above. We accept a wide range of qualifications from applicants studying in the EU and other countries. Email for further details about the qualifications we accept. Include information in your email about the undergraduate qualification you have already completed or are currently taking. IELTS 7.0 overall with a minimum component score of 5.5 except for 6.5 in writing.

Email Enquiry

Recipient: University of Essex

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