MA Modules

There are five modules of which at least three will run in any one year. Several of the modules are team taught, with contributions from Kirsti Bohata, Geraint Evans, Daniel Williams.

Students studying on the MA in English Literature Programme may select these modules.

EN-M45 Dylan Thomas and the Rise of Welsh Writing in English (Convenor: Kirsti Bohata)

Over the last thirty years, Welsh writing in English has grown from a critically neglected minor literature to an internationally respected example of world literature.  This module uses the case of Welsh Writing in English to explore key concepts in literary and cultural studies, including the formation of canons, the creation of a literary traditions, networks of writers and artistic 'influence', critical controversy and the idea of origins.

The first part of the module looks at the case of Dylan Thomas - a towering figure in popular and scholarly terms - but who has provoked strong reactions in critical and cultural circles from the moment he published his first collection in 1934.  We look at his early influences and trace these back into nineteenth-century Wales. The second part considers a variety of possible "beginnings" for Welsh writing in English ranging from the Middle Ages to the beginnings of Welsh modernism in the early twentieth century). The third part returns to Dylan Thomas and his contemporaries - considering what defines Welsh Modernism, looking at questions of gender and reception, and locating Wales a wider 'postcolonial' world.   We conclude by discussing some of the theoretical and cultural issues involved in constructing a literary tradition.

EN-M42 Welsh Identities (Convenor: Daniel Williams)

What do we mean when we speak of ‘Wales’ and ‘Welshness’? How does the study of literary texts help us to answer such questions? Drawing on a wide range of texts this course explores the ways in which Welsh national identity has been described and represented, before going on 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.

EN-M44 Gender, Genre and the Nation: Women Writing Modern Wales (Convenor: Kirsti Bohata)

This module reads texts selected from over a century of women’s from Wales writing to explore the relationship between gender and national identities. The module is orientated by genre – including gothic, industrial, modernist and lesbian fiction – and by form – we look at the short story and poetry as well as novels.  We will read the primary texts alongside contemporary theory, with a particular interest in women’s negotiations of national identity.  What does it mean to write from the doubly marginal position of a ‘minor’ culture and an oppressed gender?  We will pay particular attention to the intersections and tensions between gender, national, sexual and class identities and interrogate the ways in which different forms of feminism have interacted with other cultural forces and political ideologies (e.g. class, nationalism, language).

EN-M43 Locating Wales: Comparative Perspectives (Convenor: Daniel Williams)

This course aims to develop comparative approaches to the study of Welsh writing in English. Whereas literary studies have traditionally taken place within national boundaries, this course aims to foster comparative analyses of literatures and cultures in the hope that such an approach will shed a new and illuminating light on Welsh literature and culture. We begin by discussing the methodology and implications of comparative literary studies, before proceeding to look at the strengths and weaknesses of a ‘postcolonial’ approach to Welsh literature. We will explore cases of interaction between Welsh writers and postcolonial literary traditions. We will then proceed to look at two case studies : Wales and Ireland, and Wales and Afro-America. While the course centres on two case studies, students will be encouraged to pursue their own interests.

EN-M46 'American Wales': Writing the Transatlantic (Convenor: Daniel Williams)

The module will explore literary and cultural manifestations of Welsh interest in the USA and American interest in Wales. It will be subdivided as follows, with two classes being devoted to each of the sections:

1: American Wales and Welsh anti-Americanism Beginning with the anthropologist Alfred Zimmern’s claim in the early 1920s that the industrial society of South Wales could, because of its cosmopolitanism and industrial dynamism, be called ‘American Wales’, this section will examine the Welsh industrial literature both of the thirties and of the post-war period in the light of such a paradigm (reinforced by the historian Dai Smith in his eighties volume Wales! Wales?). It will also consider an opposite cultural phenomenon – the confirmed antipathy to USA expressed by influential Welsh language writers of the same period, and also present in such anglophone works as Emyr Humphreys’s The Anchor Tree.

2: Wales’s American Dreams In this section, attention will be paid to ways in which Welsh writers in English have constructed images of America in their work. Examples will range from Gwyn Thomas’s The Keep to Ed Thomas’s House of America , Duncan Bush’s Midway, John Davies’s The Visitor’s Book and Des Barry’s The Chivalry of Crime.

3: American Dreams of Wales If John Ford’s film version of How Green Was My Valley represents American romantic interest in Welsh industrial culture, then other literary works such as those based on Medieval Welsh culture (e.g.The Mabinogion) and history, on ‘Celticism’ etc. represent American constructions of an ancient Welsh civilization. And the work of writers such as Jon Dressel, William Vergil Davis and William Greenway display an inwardness with Welsh affairs that make theirs a singular contribution to modern Welsh debates about identity. This section will therefore explore this rich range of materials.

4: Transatlantic paradigms In this section, attention will be paid to models of comparison additional to those previously considered. These would include comparisons between Welsh and American industrial cultures, Welsh and American multilingualism, and Welsh writing in English and American regionalism – including Southern literature.