BA English and United States Literature options
Final Year, Component 02
Final Year Literature option(s) (English)
Democracy in Action
This module will allow third year students to do their final year project in an innovative and interdisciplinary way. The module seeks to give students the possibility to better understand their community, the issues it confronts and how to address them.
Through the five step training of Citizens UK (1. Organise 2. Listen 3. Plan 4. Act 5. Negotiate) the students will learn the basics of community building and organising, which they will be able to practice and experience for themselves. Students will learn to build power and negotiate with local government on issues of local concern such as hate crime, transport, mental health and housing.
How has the American identity and purpose changed since World War Two? And how is this reflected in literature? Gain answers to these questions via a range of American texts. Analyse these works using a variety of critical approaches, considering social, political and cultural contexts since the Second World War.
Possible Worlds: Science Fiction, Speculative Fiction, and Alternate History
Possible Worlds is a module on speculative fiction in its many guises. Encompassing science fiction, apocalyptic fiction, graphic novels, and alternate histories, the literature and cinema of possible worlds is concerned with the precarious routes leading to and from our own present, and is characterised by an acute sense of the volatility and contingency of history.
These novels and films typically take as their starting point a hypothetical alteration in the course of events or a change in social or technological dynamics. From there, they extrapolate lines of development leading towards one or more possible worlds. In doing so, they serve to estrange us from the world as we find it and reawaken us to the variability and open-endedness of the human situation.
After an introductory session on the history of science fiction, we will go on to look at nine major examples of the literature and cinema of possible worlds, drawing on a diverse group of modern and contemporary writers and filmmakers: from the pioneering work of H. G. Wells at the end of the Victorian period through the work of key twentieth-century figures such as Philip K. Dick and Ursula Le Guin to recent science fiction cinema. Topics and themes addressed on the module include, but are not limited to: time travel, alien encounters, evolution, alternate histories, superheroes, science fiction as philosophy, feminist science fiction, utopias and dystopias, and speculative treatments of race, gender, and sexuality.
What is a novel? How did the form originate? How does its relationship with time and space make it particular from other forms and how does it renew itself?
In this module, you will learn how to devise and plan your own novel through the reading and study of a selection of other novels. Seminars will consist of lecturer-led discussions, student discussion of the selected reading, and creative workshops.
The module builds to a creative and critical assessment in which you will submit the outline of a novel, write your own beginning chapters, and submit an essay exploring the learning outcomes of the module through the novels of other writers.
Cyborgs, Clones and the Rise of the Robots: Science Fiction
Science fiction has experimented with speculation about other worlds by means of time travels in time and space and other ways of living and being by crossing boundaries of different kinds including species and the human/machine. Some science fiction has imagined oppressive regimes, hierarchical societies characterised by brutality and enslavement.
Other science fiction has used the speculative aspects of the genre to create radically new, imagined transformations of body and society brought about by scientific and technological inventions. This diversity of treatment in science fiction makes it a versatile genre which has appealed to feminist, postcolonial and Afrofuturist as much as to conservative approaches.
The module focuses on a specific theme--what it means to be human--by exploring the robot, the cyborg and clone as well as the automaton and the vampire. The fears and desires are intense in the treatment of the human/animal/machine and when associated with reproduction and the figure of the alien in the world of the science fiction novel.
How did science fiction develop as a genre? What are the key themes? How do you write your own science fiction story? Explore key science fiction works, alongside texts from film, TV and the internet. Write your own science fiction short stories and complete world-building exercises in group workshops.
What are the cultural capitals of modernism? How are modernist arts shaped by the metropolitan life experience? Examine literature, film, art and music, studying aesthetic practices and cultural contexts of modernism. Read and discuss cities with vibrant artistic and political activities: New York, Paris, London, Dublin, Vienna, Berlin and Petersburg.
To what degree are Hamlet, King Lear, Macbeth and Othello tragedies? How useful is this term in understanding them? Undertake a close reading of Shakespeare’s four great tragedies. Critically discuss recent issues about each, in groups and in your own work. Gain an understanding of their enduring and/or present significance.
"There is a Continent Outside My Window" : United States and Caribbean Literatures in Dialogue
How do US writers imagine and represent the Caribbean? And vice versa? Deepen knowledge of American literature by examining poetic, fictional, nonfictional and dramatic works in a broader context. Investigate contemporary issues like the American Dream, what it means to be from the Americas, migration, and the question of language.
How do you write poetry? Be introduced to the practice of writing poetry. Examine seven distinct formal elements of verse alongside the best examples from canonical poetry in the English language. Build your own skills, as well as an appreciation of the history, variety and power of poetry.
Investigate the myths surrounding the founding of the United States. Crossing disciplines of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and cinematic and theatrical texts, you compare the classic Western against a range of counter-narratives from black, Hispanic, latino, and aboriginal storytellers. This module interrogates the concept of a 'national literature', explores the relationship between folklore and contemporary society, and investigates the relationship between the Western as a narrative form, and the history of colonialism in the U.S.A.
This module is about the theory and practice of narrative. You will consider the origins and enduring power of dramatic form. Through the comparative analysis of key examples, you will develop an understanding of the core principles of storytelling. You will address this primarily in the context of journalism both as a technique legitimately employed to relay ‘news’ and as a means of distorting the reality of events by interested parties.
We will consider the ethical issues presented both for journalists and those employed in the public relations industry. We will consider the way storytelling techniques transcend specific media and have continued through the digital communications revolution of the past twenty five years. We will look at how some of the best journalistic storytellers have transferred those skills to longer-form writing and to fiction. In practical workshops, you'll develop your practical storytelling skills.
How have writers, filmmakers, and artists imagined ecological disaster and the end of the world? What are our images of lost worlds and our stories of extinction, including our own as a species? In what ways have representations of apocalypse changed over the last 200 years?
The module starts with fossil finds of extinct animals and severe weather in the nineteenth century, both of which led to a sense of impending doom, before addressing twentieth-century concerns about human fertility, pandemics, machine takeover, and environmental pollution. In our own age, biodiversity loss and reports of climate change make extinction an issue more pressing than ever before, leading scientists to suggest that ours is the Anthropocene – the sixth age of mass extinction and the first geological epoch for which homo sapiens is responsible. By exploring how natural and man-made disasters have variously been conceptualised in fiction, poetry, painting, photography and film, and across disciplinary boundaries from geology to philosophy to cultural studies, this module addresses some of our deepest fears about the future of the planet and about ourselves as a species, including our complex relations to non-humans and non-living materials.
This module is intended to provide you with a broad understanding the main theoretical frameworks of media and journalism to develop their critical appraisal of the interconnected communication world of today. This module is intended to provide you with a broad understanding the main theoretical frameworks of media and journalism to develop their critical appraisal of the interconnected communication world of today.
It is aimed primarily at students looking to develop a research career in journalism or media studies as well as those students looking to acquire a critical approach to journalistic practice. It will also be interesting to students of Government and Sociology who are interested in understanding the big debates around the media and the relationships with politics and society. Each week a current event will be discussed in the seminar as well.
The module will equip students with the knowledge, theoretical frameworks, and critical tools to unpack the complexities of contemporary networked newsrooms. It will provide the conceptual framework required to analyze and comprehend our interconnected communication sphere. The module will be open to students from LIFTS who want to critically reflect on the professional practice and to students from Government and Sociology who would be eager to acquire analytical tools that would support their interdisciplinary research.
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