Postgraduate Course

MA American Literatures

MA American Literatures

Overview

The details
American Literatures
October 2021
Full-time
1 year
Colchester Campus

Gain a rich understanding of the variety and interconnections of American writing, exploring major poetic, fictional, non-fictional and dramatic works. You will read from the cannon of American literature, as well as texts that are topical and contemporary.

At Essex, we challenge the study of the United States as a territorially bound space by embracing an expanded conception of ‘America’, which explores the richness of U.S. and Caribbean literatures in dialogue. This allows you to formulate sophisticated analyses of the role of space and place in the production of American writing and identities.

You explore how cultural geography may be integrated into literary history, concentrating on American literatures topics including:

  • How violence and conflict have shaped writing across the American tropics
  • The difference between reality and the “American Dream”
  • Caribbean modernities and post-colonialism
  • US nationalism and regionalism in literature
  • African American literature

We are ranked among the top 200 departments in the QS World University Rankings (2019).

This course is also available on a part-time basis.

Why we're great.
  • Explore the variety and interconnections of US and Caribbean writing and dramatic works
  • Learn from expert teaching staff who publish extensively on US and Caribbean literatures
  • Discover innovative practical ways of engaging with texts including theatre visits and archival research
THE Awards 2018 - Winner University of the Year

Our expert staff

At Essex, we have an impressive literary legacy. Our history comprises staff (and students) who have been Nobel Prize winners, Booker Prize winners, and Pulitzer Prize winners.

This course reflects our longstanding strengths in the literatures and cultures of the Americas, particularly the US South and Caribbean regions. You are taught by leading area specialists who have researched and published extensively on Caribbean and US literatures:

  • Professor Maria Cristina Fumagalli has published widely on Caribbean literature and culture, including her recent book On the Edge: Writing the Border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic
  • Dr Owen Robinson is a US literature specialist with particular interests in William Faulkner and the US South; forthcoming publications include Myriad City: Towards a Literary Geography of New Orleans
  • Dr Jak Peake has broad interests across Caribbean and US writing, with particular expertise in Trinidadian literature; his publications include the book Between the Bocas: A Literary Geography of Western Trinidad

We are an interdisciplinary department and our academic staff have expertise in literature, film theory and practice, drama, creative writing and journalism.

Specialist facilities

  • Meet fellow readers at the student-run Literature Society or at our department’s Myth Reading Group
  • Write for our student magazine REBEL or host a REBEL Radio show
  • View classic films at weekly film screenings in our dedicated 120-seat film theatre
  • Learn from leading writers and literature specialists at weekly research seminars
  • Our on-campus Lakeside Theatre has been established as a major venue for good drama, staging both productions by professional touring companies and a wealth of new work written, produced and directed by our own staff and students
  • Improve your playwriting and performance skills at our Lakeside Theatre Workshops
  • Our Research Laboratory allows you to collaborate with professionals, improvising and experimenting with new work which is being tried and tested

Your future

A good literature degree opens many doors.

We offer supervision for PhD, MPhil and MA by dissertation in different literatures and various approaches to literature, covering most aspects of early modern and modern writing in English, plus a number of other languages.

Our University is one of only 11 AHRC-accredited Doctoral Training Centres in the UK. This means that we offer funded PhD studentships which also provide a range of research and training opportunities.

A number of our Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies graduates have gone on to undertake successful careers as writers, and others are now established as scholars, university lecturers, teachers, publishers, publishers’ editors, journalists, arts administrators, theatre artistic directors, drama advisers, and translators.

We work with our Employability and Careers Centre to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.

Entry requirements

UK entry requirements

A 2.2 degree in Creative Writing, Theatre/Drama Studies, Literature, Film and Media Studies, Modern Languages , Art History, Music, Philosophy, History, American Studies, Performance studies, Journalism, Law, Politics and Sociology.

You may be asked to provide a piece of creative writing if you do not hold a degree in a relevant field.

International & EU entry requirements

We accept a wide range of qualifications from applicants studying in the EU and other countries. Get in touch with any questions you may have about the qualifications we accept. Remember to tell us about the qualifications you have already completed or are currently taking.

Sorry, the entry requirements for the country that you have selected are not available here. Please select your country page where you'll find this information.

English language requirements

IELTS 7.0 overall with a minimum component score of 5.5 except for 6.5 in writing

If you do not meet our IELTS requirements then you may be able to complete a pre-sessional English pathway that enables you to start your course without retaking IELTS.

Additional Notes

The University uses academic selection criteria to determine an applicant’s ability to successfully complete a course at the University of Essex. Where appropriate, we may ask for specific information relating to previous modules studied or work experience.

Structure

Course structure

We offer a flexible course structure with a mixture of core/compulsory modules, and optional modules chosen from lists.

Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field. The course content is therefore reviewed on an annual basis to ensure our courses remain up-to-date so modules listed are subject to change.

Teaching and learning disclaimer

Following the impact of the pandemic, we made changes to our teaching and assessment to ensure our current students could continue with their studies uninterrupted and safely. These changes included courses being taught through blended delivery, normally including some face-to-face teaching, online provision, or a combination of both across the year.

The teaching and assessment methods listed show what is currently planned for 2021 entry; changes may be necessary if, by the beginning of this course, we need to adapt the way we’re delivering them due to the external environment, and to allow you to continue to receive the best education possible safely and seamlessly.

Components and modules explained

Components

Components are the blocks of study that make up your course. A component may have a set module which you must study, or a number of modules from which you can choose.

Each component has a status and carries a certain number of credits towards your qualification.

Status What this means
Core
You must take the set module for this component and you must pass. No failure can be permitted.
Core with Options
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component but you must pass. No failure can be permitted.
Compulsory
You must take the set module for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.
Compulsory with Options
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.
Optional
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.

The modules that are available for you to choose for each component will depend on several factors, including which modules you have chosen for other components, which modules you have completed in previous years of your course, and which term the module is taught in.

Modules

Modules are the individual units of study for your course. Each module has its own set of learning outcomes and assessment criteria and also carries a certain number of credits.

In most cases you will study one module per component, but in some cases you may need to study more than one module. For example, a 30-credit component may comprise of either one 30-credit module, or two 15-credit modules, depending on the options available.

Modules may be taught at different times of the year and by a different department or school to the one your course is primarily based in. You can find this information from the module code. For example, the module code HR100-4-FY means:

HR 100  4  FY

The department or school the module will be taught by.

In this example, the module would be taught by the Department of History.

The module number. 

The UK academic level of the module.

A standard undergraduate course will comprise of level 4, 5 and 6 modules - increasing as you progress through the course.

A standard postgraduate taught course will comprise of level 7 modules.

A postgraduate research degree is a level 8 qualification.

The term the module will be taught in.

  • AU: Autumn term
  • SP: Spring term
  • SU: Summer term
  • FY: Full year 
  • AP: Autumn and Spring terms
  • PS: Spring and Summer terms
  • AS: Autumn and Summer terms

COMPONENT 01: CORE

Dissertation
(80 CREDITS)

Your dissertation is the culmination of your time at Essex. Focusing on one particular topic in great depth, you formulate an urgent research question to be subsequently addressed, either critically or creatively. Your dedicated supervisor will be on-hand to guide you through the process, and our pre-requisite module on research methods will ensure you are fully prepared for the task at hand.

View Dissertation on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 02: COMPULSORY

Research Methods in Literary and Cultural Analysis
(20 CREDITS)

Are you ready for your dissertation? Examine a variety of research methods and methodologies, building the research skills and understanding needed to complete your postgraduate-level research project.

View Research Methods in Literary and Cultural Analysis on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 03: COMPULSORY

LT906-7-SP
(20 CREDITS)

COMPONENT 04: COMPULSORY

United States Nationalism and Regionalism
(20 CREDITS)

How can a nation reach its potential if it will not think of itself as new, independent and important? Study major writers from the nineteenth century onwards. Explore the development of US nationalism and literature. Examine the development of regionalism. Understand how these processes relate to wider transnational considerations.

View United States Nationalism and Regionalism on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 05: COMPULSORY

Continental Crossings: Caribbean and US Literature and Culture
(20 CREDITS)

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.

View Continental Crossings: Caribbean and US Literature and Culture on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 06: OPTIONAL

Option from list
(20 CREDITS)

Teaching

  • Five modules are followed over the autumn and spring terms, and generally consist of ten two-hour seminars
  • Innovative, practical ways of engaging with texts include visits to theatres and archival research
  • Seminars may include introductions by your tutor, presentations by you, and discussion based on a programme of reading
  • Visiting scholars are invited to speak about their research

Assessment

  • Four essays of 4,000-5,000 words
  • There is normally considerable freedom for you to choose the topics of your essays
  • A reflective piece on research methods

Dissertation

  • You produce a dissertation (of approximately 12,000 words) written between April and September

Fees and funding

Home/UK fee

£8,760

International fee

£18,800

EU students commencing their course in the 2021-22 academic year will be liable for the International fee.

Fees will increase for each academic year of study.

What's next

Open Days

We hold Open Days for all our applicants throughout the year. Our Colchester Campus events are a great way to find out more about studying at Essex, and give you the chance to:

  • tour our campus and accommodation
  • find out answers to your questions about our courses, student finance, graduate employability, student support and more
  • meet our students and staff

If the dates of our organised events aren’t suitable for you, feel free to get in touch by emailing tours@essex.ac.uk and we’ll arrange an individual campus tour for you.

2021 Open Days (Colchester Campus)

  • Saturday, September 18, 2021
  • Saturday, October 23, 2021

Applying

You can apply for this postgraduate course online. Before you apply, please check our information about necessary documents that we’ll ask you to provide as part of your application.

We aim to respond to applications within two weeks. If we are able to offer you a place, you will be contacted via email.

For information on our deadline to apply for this course, please see our ‘how to apply’ information.

If you are applying to a masters course in the department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies you must provide a piece of critical academic writing (2,500 words) on a topic relevant to your application.

Colchester Campus

Visit Colchester Campus

Home to 15,000 students from more than 130 countries, our Colchester Campus is the largest of our three sites, making us one of the most internationally diverse campuses on the planet - we like to think of ourselves as the world in one place.

The Campus is set within 200 acres of beautiful parkland, located two miles from the historic town centre of Colchester – England's oldest recorded town. Our Colchester Campus is also easily reached from London and Stansted Airport in under one hour.

 

Virtual tours

If you live too far away to come to Essex (or have a busy lifestyle), no problem. Our 360 degree virtual tour allows you to explore the Colchester Campus from the comfort of your home. Check out our accommodation options, facilities and social spaces.

Exhibitions

Our staff travel the world to speak to people about the courses on offer at Essex. Take a look at our list of exhibition dates to see if we’ll be near you in the future.

At Essex we pride ourselves on being a welcoming and inclusive student community. We offer a wide range of support to individuals and groups of student members who may have specific requirements, interests or responsibilities.


Find out more

The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its programme specification is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to courses, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include, but are not limited to: strikes, other industrial action, staff illness, severe weather, fire, civil commotion, riot, invasion, terrorist attack or threat of terrorist attack (whether declared or not), natural disaster, restrictions imposed by government or public authorities, epidemic or pandemic disease, failure of public utilities or transport systems or the withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to courses may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery of programmes, courses and other services, to discontinue programmes, courses and other services and to merge or combine programmes or courses. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications.

The full Procedures, Rules and Regulations of the University governing how it operates are set out in the Charter, Statutes and Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.

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