History of the English Language
This module covers the history of the English language, tracing its development from its beginnings as part of the Indo-European family of languages, through its various changes through Old, Middle and Modern English. You will determine the processes through which a standard (English) evolves and examine selected texts from different periods of the English language and reflect on the relationships between them. In the module, students will reconcile the features of internal language systems with the social, cultural and political conditions/contexts for linguistic development and evolution.
Language Policy and Planning
This module looks at why we might need to plan for a language and how this might feed into policy. We will consider language planning from the point of view of both status planning (how a language is used within its community), corpus planning (the structure of a language) and acquisition planning (efforts to enable individuals or groups to learn a language). Attention will be given to bodies and institutions, which are involved in making language policy and examples from different language communities in the world will be studied. Throughout this module, we will explore the complex factors and implications of planning and policy: implications for equality and diversity, innovation versus conservative approaches and from a regional/national level to the international stage
Introduction to Literary Studies
This module will provide students with a grounding in the study of literature and criticism. It offers the skills required for the continued study of the discipline. During the module, we will discuss a variety of genres: from drama and poetry to fiction, asking basic questions about the context, nature, form and reception of each of these genres throughout its development. Through studying poetry students will acquire a basic knowledge of how the genre works, the relationship between form and content, as well as changes in poetry over time. We will study plays from different periods and in different modes, be they comic or tragic. When studying the novel, we will ascertain how this genre took over the literary scene in the 18th century and became a staple of literary and cultural production.
Tales of Terror: Ghosts, Monsters and Other Anxieties in Literature and Film Culture
Do you wonder how and why particular novels such as Frankenstein, or poems such as `The Rime of the Ancient Mariner¿ continue to have a wide and critical appeal? Do you think about why films such as Stanley Kubrick¿s The Shining continue to send shivers down your spine, even on repeat viewings?
What do these `tales of terror¿ tell us about ourselves and the world in which we live? Do they shed a light on cultural anxieties and particular periods in history, or are they pure escapism? How do they tap into our most intimate fears and desires, and how are they expressed and represented in our culture?
In this module you will study range of literature and cinematic texts that explore the shadowy worlds created through figures of fear, feelings of excess and paranoia, and texts that test the limits of reason, and confront us with `the uncanny¿.
Imagining the Future: Science Fiction
According to Ray Bradbury, science fiction is `the most important literature in the history of the world, because it's the history of ideas, the history of our civilization birthing itself.¿ In Doris Lessing¿s view `science fiction has become a dialect for our time¿, indicating its commonality and prevalence within our world. And J. G. Ballard sees the genre as a chronicle of our times, stating that: `Everything is becoming science fiction. From the margins of an almost invisible literature has sprung the intact reality of the 20th century.¿
Rather than `predicting the future¿, or allowing us to participate in pure escapism, the best examples of the genre have arguably always encouraged us to reflect on the human condition, asking questions about our relationship with technology and what it means to be human. Ultimately, the genre allows us to engage in the extrapolation of current situations, interrogate what we `know¿ and to speculate on, or re-imagine, our future.
The module explores the development of the form over the twentieth and twenty-first centuries taking a thematic approach with consideration given to the changing tastes and developments in the form.
Entrances and Exits: Plays, Performance and Criticism
This module will explore the notion of tragic drama and performance broadly organized according to cultures of performance beginning with classical Greek tragic tradition to Shakespearian tragedy, through to American and European examples of the mode. We will also take into account the modern-day inclination for screening the stage. In doing so, we will consider plays as both text and performance, as well as thinking about the role of the audience, reception and criticism of the stage world.
Ways of Reading: Approaches to Literature, Film and Culture
Theory: often perceived as esoteric, impenetrable and as obscuring the pleasures of engagement with literature, art and culture. It is undeniable that theory and critical approaches to cultural artefacts demand careful reading and close attention to often difficult and complex concepts. However, it is also true to say that literature itself offers a multiplicity of meanings and often sparks vigorous debate, revealing assumptions in our reading practices and the situated nature of the ways in which we view the cultural products we encounter. Thus exposure to a range of perspectives in this module will equip students with an analytical, critical and informed way of reading and thinking (key skills in a changing world), as well as a grounding in the vocabulary and conceptual tools that will be of use in future modules.
As an introductory module, students will encounter some of the central ideas and debates in the interpretation of texts. The module will ask several key questions: What is the nature and function of literature and culture? What is the relationship between literature and theory? What is the role of the author? How are ideas such as race, sexuality, being human, gender and class constructed in and through texts? As a result, this module will allow students to have a greater understanding of the relationship between literary study and a broader cultural critique.
From Michel de Montaigne to Michael Moore: The Art of the Essay
This module will explore the art of the essay form, from its beginnings with Michel de Montaigne, through the rise of the English essay and its incarnations to its current state. This survey module will look at a variety of essayists and their work and explore the variety of issues within these essays. Additionally the module will consider the essay¿s form and function, as well as relevant literary style and technique. Notable practitioners of the form, some of whom we will consider on the module, include Michel de Montaigne, Virginia Woolf, Dorothy Parker, E. B. White, David Foster Wallace, Annie Dillard, Hanif Kureishi, Zadie Smith, Chris Marker, Michael Moore, John Akomfrah and Agnès Varda, amongst others.
Students can expect, among other genres, to encounter the philosophical, critical and aesthetical essay, the personal essay, the polemic, the travelogue, the conversational essay, the radio essay, the film essay and the `occasional¿ essay.
This module asks several questions: What is an essay? How does it fit into the literary canon? How is the form different to other prose? Is the `essay¿ purely a literary genre, or is it a more malleable form? What techniques are used in the writing of the essay?
Finally, the module addresses the nature of crafting an effective modern essay, and considers its role and significance in contemporary culture.
This is a survey module with a creative element that allows the student to read, discuss, critique and respond to a variety of essays (both in class and in their assessments), as well as employ what they have learned about the essay form in a final writing project of their own.
From Page to Screen: Literature and Adaptation
Have you ever wondered what kinds of cultural and textual dialogues can be seen taking place between adaptations of Shakespearian plays, or contemporary re-writings/re-visionings of classic novels? Have you ever considered what the writer¿s role is in the adaptation of their material, or even simply their thoughts on the new work that bears their name in the phrase `adapted from¿ or `based on¿, and what do those terms mean?
This module will consider adaptation in the diversity of its meanings, its forms, across genres, cross-media platforms and cross-cultural contexts. Among other things, we will look at the changing representation from literature to film, the relationship between `source¿ texts and their various adaptations. We will consider theories of the text, notions of `fidelity¿, the status of the `original¿ and the place of the author.
Questions explored will include: What do we mean when we use terms such as `adaptation¿, `appropriation¿, `allusion¿, `fidelity¿, `intertextuality¿, `sampling¿ or `assemblage¿? How do we take account of multiple adaptations, or re-writings/re-visionings, of a particular text and interpret the additions, omissions and choices made by the adapter? In doing this we will necessarily consider the impact of the cultural contexts, the ideological circumstances and historical conditions of both the new `work¿ and its `source¿ matter, finally asking whether a valuable dialogue emerges as a result of the processes of adaptation and appropriation.
Prehistory, History and Language
This module has three sections 1. The origins of language question- focusing especially on the ideas of Noam Chomsky, Steven Pinker, and Terrence Deacon. This section gives us an in-depth insight into the theories of the fundamental character of language. 2. The search for the Indo-European- focusing on rival theories ( for example, Colin Renfrew, JP Mallory, Marija Gimbutas) on the origins and spread of Indo-European languages. This section provides an in-detail understanding of research into the language "family" that gave us English. 3. The Old English to Middle English question- what is the evidence that led language historians to identify a boundary between so called "Old" and "Middle English." This section is about the historical processes that changed the grammar, vocabulary, and spelling of English enormously in the Middle Ages. Students should be aware that this is a challenging module with much content and ground to cover from a range of disciplines, and classes are mainly lecture-format. Class numbers tend to be high which, given staff resources, sometimes makes speedy return of essays difficult. Additional consultation hours may be arranged towards the end of the module in order to compensate.