Monsters, Theories, Transformations
Literary works open up different meanings depending on the questions we ask them and the assumptions we bring to them. Literary meaning is in continual transformation. This module examines some of the ways in which this occurs through critical reading and intertextual revision. The first half of the module looks at two works, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and Bram Stoker's Dracula, that have been plurally interpreted by critics; the second half of the module considers the transformation of narrative and ideology in the 'intertextual' revision of Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre by Jean Rhys's Wide Sargasso Sea. The course looks at how meaning in literature is transformed and how it transforms the ways in which we see the world.
Approaches to Gender in English Literature
The development of the feminist theory has brought about increased awareness for literary scholars of the importance of gender in shaping the perceptions, expectations and subjectives of both cultures and individuals - and the texts which they produce. This module therefore aims to introduce students to some of the primary issues connected with the workings and analysis of gender in English literature and the gendered contexts in which that literature is produced. It will, therefore, incorporate an introduction to some of the basic tenets of gender theory and its application as a means of reading literary texts from a range of periods. It will focus on a small variety of poetic, dramatic and fictional texts, examining the ways in which gender relationships are portrayed within them and the extent to which they reflect, perpetuate and/or challenge the cultural values of the period and the social contexts within which they are produced.
The Stage Play World
The Stage Play World is an introductory module which combines an overview of performance history -- from classical Greek theatre to the present-day stage presentations -- with the development of reading and analytical skills. The module teaches students how to read and understand a stage script and then moves on to a consideration of how to analyse what is being read. The course also teaches students how to argue persuasively from that analysis. The module has been designed to emphasise the continuous development of drama, together with its links to social and historical events and to movements in other forms of art and literature. There are a number of set texts, with additional extracts that will be considered in lectures.
Fragments of Union: The Cultural Making and Breaking of Britain
The nationality question has been a persistent theme in British politics, most obviously in recent decades in relationship to questions of immigration and settlement, Britain¿s membership of Europe, the `troubles¿ and `peace process¿ in Ulster, and the resurgence of forms of devolution and nationalism in Wales and Scotland. This course explores the ways in which the diverse literatures of the British Isles have responded to, and shaped, debates around these issues. The questions asked on the course will include: How does a `four nations¿ approach, well-established in historical studies, function in literary studies? What are the key differences and similarities between the literatures produced in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales? To what extent does literature reflect social identities, and to what extent is it active in their creation? If all identities are in as sense `imagined¿, why have certain kinds of identities been significant in particular periods? Is an aesthetics informed by nationalism inevitably conservative and restrictive? Are linguistically experimental writers always skeptical of collective identities? Are we witnessing the `break up¿ of Britain in contemporary literature, or is Britishness being reconstructed anew?
Shakespeare is often figured as a universal writer who tells us something essential about the human condition; he has been imagined as both a national poet and the world¿s dramatist. But can Shakespeare really be universal? This module invites students to rethink many of the standard assumptions about Shakespeare. The writer Ben Jonson described as the `sweet swan of Avon¿ was also responsible for plays of horrifying violence and his drama reflects, in unsettling ways, on issues of gender, race, and class. Students will explore five controversial Shakespeare plays: Titus Andronicus, The Taming of the Shrew, The Merchant of Venice, Othello, and The Tempest. Lectures, seminars, and film screenings introduce the plays in all their disturbing complexity: Shakespeare emerges as a deeply equivocal presence in literary and theatrical history. Taking into account the important work of feminist and postcolonial criticism, this module addresses both the radical potential and the frequently conservative application of Shakespeare¿s plays.
Dissertation - English Literature
The Dissertation is an optional, two-semester, 40-credit module designed to develop high-level academic skills and intellectual independence in the students. A first-semester skills-building programme will include: research skills, summary skills, bibliographic skills, ability to synthesise succinctly, planning and organisational skills, correct presentation of a thesis and bibliography, presentational skills and public speaking. Students conduct research on a subject of their choice, devised in consultation with a member of the English literature staff. The topic will be devised to fall within staff research and teaching specialisms, broadly defined. Students attend group sessions on research skills in Semesters 1 and 2, and have individual meetings with supervisors in Semester 2.
This module is an introduction to postcolonial literature and theory. We will focus on key cultural, political and literary concepts such as the colonial `other¿, cultural hybridity, rewriting history, language and resistance. The intersections between different kinds of identity including gender, race, nationality and sexuality will be explored across a selection of texts from very different colonial/postcolonial situations across the globe: including Nigeria, Zimbabwe, New Zealand, the Caribbean (Guyana) and Wales.
Welsh Identities: literature and nationhood
What does it mean when we speak of Wales and 'Welshness'? How does the study of literary texts help us to answer such questions? What is the relationship between literature and nationhood? Drawing on a wide range of texts this course begins by exploring the ways in which Welsh national identity has been described and represented by Welsh writers in the twentieth century. We then proceed to explore other kinds of communal identities that have been equally prominent in the ways in which the Welsh have thought of themselves and envisaged their place in the world. We explore how class, gender, religious and ethnic identities have reinforced and challenged an often precarious sense of ' Welshness', and trace the tensions as they take aesthetic form in the writings of Emyr Humphreys, Christopher Meredith, Raymond Williams, Trezza Azzopardi and others.
Women Writing Modern Wales
This course explores the range and diversity of Welsh women's writing in English. We will question and explore the legitimacy of reading and organizing literary texts along lines of gender, will ask whether there is a distinctive form of Welsh women's writing, and interrogate the ways in which forms of feminism have interacted with other cultural forces and political ideologies (eg class, nationalism, language) in Wales. We begin by exploring ideas of tradition and canon formation in the light of feminist criticism before going on to discuss the writings of early Welsh feminists and their relationship with nation (Amy Dillwyn, Bertha Thomas, Sara Maria Saunders), before moving on to look at Welsh women modernists (Lynette Roberts, Dorothy Edwards, Margiad Evans, Hilda Vaughan), rewriting industrial and post-industrial experience (Kate Roberts, Menna Gallie, Rachel Trezise), and a range of contemporary of contemporary voices animating the Welsh literary scene from Catrin Dafydd and Gwyneth Lewis to Trezza Azzopardi and Charlotte Williams.
There will be two additional (optional) sessions in the archives to introduce students to using archival resources in their studies.
Dylan Thomas and the Idea of Welsh Writing in English
Was Dylan Thomas the beginning (and end?) of Welsh writing in English? If not, then when did it begin? And does it make any difference as to when we suppose it does? What, in any case, is meant by speaking of a Welsh Literature in English? What definition of it can one offer, and what model of such a body of work can one construct? These are the kinds of issues to be considered in this course. It is accordingly subdivided into two sections. The first is concerned with the range of responses to Thomas's writings in Wales itself, and the ways in which he was made to represent the Anglophone literature of Wales in England and the United States. The second considers other possible "beginnings" for Welsh writing in English ( ranging from the Middle Ages to the First World War and to the thirties generation of genius). We conclude by discussing some of the theoretical and cultural isses involved in constructing literary tradition.