Voices of Poetry
'Voices of Poetry' is an engaging and exciting module which aims to introduce students to poetry and the various voices it articulates. Taught by well-known poets as well as scholars of poetry, this course will introduce students to a wide range of poetic forms and literary periods, ranging from the medieval lyric to postmodern poetry, from Shakespeare to Sylvia Plath. Particular attention will be paid to the interrelationship between meaning and form, and how rhetorical figures, metre, rhythm, tone, register and the speaker's voice create meaning. 'Voices of Poetry' will also foster an appreciation of how poetic forms are re-written in the socio-historical context in which they were produced.
Revolution of the Word: Modernism
An introduction to Modernist literature, focussing upon its origins in response to the crisis of modernity, its engagement with colonialism and the First World War, its formal experimentation, its depiction of city-life and its engagement with new ideas of gender and the unconscious.
Revolution and Romanticism
In this module students will study some major texts of British Romantic poetry and prose in the historical context of contemporary debates on revolutionising society. We will trace a dialectic between Romantic individualism and social concern in poetry, revolutionary ‘propaganda’, gothic fiction and the romantic novel. Through detailed critical analysis we will focus on the various ways in which writers sought to unmask bourgeois hypocrisy and political corruption; to portray lower-class life and sexuality honestly; or to invoke tradition and question change. The philosophical implications of such terms as ‘Romanticism’, ‘Sensibility’, and ‘Subjectivity’ will be explored, and the ideology of different literary styles, contrasted. Though we will be reading a varied selection of texts, a continuing concern will be on the ways in which social changes are embodied in literary consciousness, and on the relationship between experience and perception.
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.
'The point, however, is to change it': Marxism, Theory and Literature
Marxism is one of the most powerful methodologies for analysing power structures and historical change ever devised. It has also been - in accordance with Marx's assertion that 'philosophers have only interpreted the world; the point, however, is to change it' - one of the most powerful agencies in the history it analyses. Yet for all Marxism's totalising tendencies in the political sphere, Marxist literary theory has been true to the dialectical esence of its founder's philosophy to the extent that it now consists of a rich multiplicity of critical approaches, ranging from body-centred theories of the carnivalesque to profound and melancholy analyses of the relationship between Modernism and popular culture. This course matches important Marxist critics and theorists, or groups of theorists with specific texts or films, testing the explanatory power and claims of the theories at the level of close reading and what Marxism calls 'praxis'. At all times, attention is paid to the fact that Marxism does not merely act upon literature; because Marx and many of his successors were often shaped by literature, Marxism itself, to a significant degree, is a literary product, the creation of deeply literary sensibilities.
Triumphant Disasters, Disastrous Triumphs: Writing World War Two
Over seventy years after it broke out, the Second World War still exerts a huge - some would say distorting - influence on the national psyche. Yet, despite the fact that few new writers emerged in these six years, the War had major effect on many established writers, providing the stimulus for an outburst of creativity and profoundly altering the trajectory of their careers and the nature of their work. Through the poetry, fiction, film, speeches, memoirs and journalism of the time, this course traces literary responses to the war, from the Dunkirk debâcle to the bitter-sweetness of a victory that marked the end of the Empire and Britain’s Great Power status. It is particularly alert to what distinguished this ‘People’s War’ from its predecessors, exploring the creative tensions between London and the regions, civilians and combatants, classes and sexes, and coverning writing by front-line combatants and draft-dodgers, civilians and spies, aristocrats and bohemians. By locating literary texts in the broader cultural context of wartime film, music and the visual arts, as well as the political and historical currents of the early 1940s, this module aims to reveal a much richer and more complex response to the conflict than the moral crusade we are usually presented with, and to give a glimpse of the modern Britain that emerged out of the ashes, bombsites and trauma.
Further Poetry Writing
This module consists of ten two-hour weekly workshops, which will deepen knowledge of the craft of writing poetry, paying close attention to the specific language of the poem, and the relationship between form and content. This will occur against a background theme of the changing role of the poet in society and how it has affected poetic form, as well as an exploration of the position of poetry - whether performed or published - in the past and the present. the focus each week will be on writing and rewriting and weekly workshops will include discussion of published poetry and the students' own work.
Writing poetry 2
This module follows on from and builds on the lessons learned in Writing Poetry 1, introducing students to a wide range of approaches to poetry, from the intricacies of strict traditional forms such as the sonnet and the villanelle to the experimental possibilities of concrete poetry. Many of the forms considered are non-English in origin and some of them, such as the Japanese haibun, are notably novel, in the West at least. Consideration of the operations of chance - in found poetry, for instance - will be balanced by exposure to the deliberate and complex calculations of, for instance, Welsh prosody. Students will be encouraged both to create in these forms and to adapt them to their own purposes. The module consists of a series of eleven weekly workshops which will comprise a fluid mingling of tutor-led discussion and workshop-based exercises; verse forms and techniques will be clarified by the reading and discussion of named works of poetry and by the dissemination of explicatory handouts. Short assignments will be set every week and brought to the workshop to be considered communally. The workshops will last for up to two and a half hours and will be supplemented by sessions of individual mentoring on a one-to-one basis with a tutor. The module will be evaluated by a portfolio of poetry together with a 1000-word reflective essay on the creative process involved in assembling the portfolio.
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.