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Undergraduate English 2022-2023

EL1009: ACTS OF READING

15 credits

Level 1

First Sub Session

This course introduces students to the study of English by exploring the dynamic relationship between author, reader and text in a series of classic works of fiction and poetry. It covers a broad historical range (from Folk Tales and ballads to 21st century postmodernity) and offers a basic grounding in key elements of literary theory, literary history and the varieties of literary form.

EL1513: CONTROVERSIAL CLASSICS

15 credits

Level 1

Second Sub Session

Literature can provoke, offend and disturb as well as entertain. This course considers some of the most powerful and controversial works of modern literature. It examines the circumstances of publication, the nature of the controversy, and the cultural and critical impact of each work. The course shows how poems, plays and novels can raise searching questions about national, racial and personal identity, and looks at the methods used by writers to challenge their readers, as well the responses of readers to such challenges.

EL1536: RETHINKING READING

15 credits

Level 1

Second Sub Session

Rethinking Reading invites you to consider what we do when we study literature. What shapes the idea of literature as we know it? How, and why, might we want to change the ways in which we think about texts? Who gets to decide, and why does it matter? Designed as an introduction to critical theory for students of literature, Rethinking Reading introduces several key topics in critical studies: literature, authorship, genre, sexuality, and posthumanism.

EL2011: ENCOUNTERS WITH SHAKESPEARE

30 credits

Level 2

First Sub Session

So you think you know Shakespeare? This course invites you to think again. Studying a range of plays we get behind the mythology of Shakespeare, and rediscover the dynamic inventiveness of the Elizabethan theatre. Shakespeare and his contemporaries were the principal players in a period of literary experimentation that reinvented the possibilities of literature. Encounters with Shakespeare is your chance to find out more.

EL2018: POWER, EMPIRE AND EQUALITY

30 credits

Level 2

First Sub Session

This optional course in literature allows students at pre-Honours to learn about the impact of global colonialism through the writings of those who experienced it and its repercussions.  It includes theorists of our time and texts like Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe and Buchi Emecheta’s Second Class Citizen.  The texts on this course are necessarily concerned with enslavement and freedom, with how one encounters difference, and what it means to possess or claim territory.  In examining these issues students will engage with issues of power and equality over centuries of writing about colonialism and empire. 

EL2512: THE TRAGEDY OF KNOWLEDGE

30 credits

Level 2

Second Sub Session

This course traces the use of key Western myths from antiquity to the present to examine the way knowledge is often presented as both dangerous and compelling. As well as introducing students to a range of historical, social, and formal variations on the theme of knowledge, the course also highlights the role of storytelling and adaptation in the formation of knowledge and understanding.

EL30CP: PAGE AND STAGE: RENAISSANCE WRITINGS 1500-1640

30 credits

Level 3

First Sub Session

This course explores the poetry, drama and prose of a period often referred to as the golden age of English literature. A period which saw Shakespeare and his contemporaries produce innovative new literary works in which the language of desire took centre stage.

EL30FF: MODERNISM: MAKE IT NEW

30 credits

Level 3

First Sub Session

The early twentieth century was a time of great literary experimentation as literary modernists rose to the challenge to make it new. We will explore modernism’s stylistic experimentation while also considering the social contexts and changes that shaped this literature. The course will examine a range of writers, genres, movements and locations which prompt us to consider what, when and where was modernism.

EL30RD: AMERICAN VOICES: SELF AND SOCIETY, 1850-1930

30 credits

Level 3

First Sub Session

This course examines an important and diverse period in the development of American literature, lasting from the mid-nineteenth century until the 1930s. During the course we will be analysing works by a variety of American writers from this period in their historical, social and political contexts as well as considering the ways in which they pioneered innovative literary forms and techniques.

EL30SB: BRITAIN AND THE NINETEENTH-CENTURY WORLD

30 credits

Level 3

First Sub Session

The Romantic (1782-1832) and Victorian (1832-1901) periods were ones of remarkable activity for British citizens abroad. Imperial expansion, increasing international trade, major conflicts and growing mass migration all drew more British citizens than ever into contact with the wider world. This course explores the footprints left by these interactions in nineteenth-century literature: critically examining how Britain saw the world and how the English-speaking world saw Britain during a century of unprecedented international activity. This course will combine canonical writers of empire and migration with less well-known accounts of the period. Writers covered may include Mary Shelley, Henry Derozio, Fergus Hume, Cornelia Sorabji, Robert Louis Stevenson and Arthur Conan Doyle. The course will apply a range of critical lenses to this material offering students an introduction to key concepts and debates from nation theory, settler studies and postcolonial studies.

EL30UT: ART AND ATROCITY: REPRESENTATIONS OF VIOLENCE AND TRAUMA

30 credits

Level 3

First Sub Session

How is the artist to respond when the virtual becomes the real and when words cannot carry the weight of trauma? How can an author avoid the accusations of voyeuristic prurience or crass opportunism when he or she attempts to re-present events of public violence? This multi-disciplinary course examines work from a wide range of modes, including fiction, poetry, film and graphic art, and looks at the difficulties of inscribing trauma and the ethics and praxis of remembrance. Key events covered include the Holocaust, the Sabra and Shatila massacre, 9-11, the Gulf War and the conflict in the Balkans.

EL30WC: QUEER TIMES

30 credits

Level 3

First Sub Session

This course adopts a cross-period approach, bringing contemporary and premodern texts into conversation in exploring representations of queer experiences and themes in diverse forms. Divided into three sections, queer presents, queer pasts, and queer futures, the course will introduce a selection of theoretical and critical readings in thinking about how representation is shaped by temporal and cultural context. We will consider the relationship between representation of queer experience and formal experimentation, and how queer forms impact on our sense of queer possibilities.

EL30XR: ROMANTICISM

30 credits

Level 3

First Sub Session

The Romantic movement swept Europe in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries and produced some of the most innovative and exciting literature that has ever been seen. This rule breaking art helped shape the way that we consider art today and underpins many of our ideas about imagination, originality, creativity and self-expression. This course will explore the ways in which the Romantic movement manifested itself across Britain and Ireland and will consider writers such as Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Scott, Austen and Byron. 

EL30YB: CREATIVE WRITING: CREATIVITY AND CRAFT

30 credits

Level 3

First Sub Session

This course offers students the opportunity, through lectures and interactive workshops, to develop their understanding of, and practical skills in, the writing of prose fiction, poetry and creative non-fiction. Taught by widely published, award-winning writers, it provides a thorough, practice-based understanding of creative process and of the technical challenges involved in developing an original idea into a completed literary artefact, presented to a professional standard. It also contributes to students' future career potential, whether as ‘creative’ or other kinds of professional writers/communicators.

EL30YD: TRANSFORMATIONS: LITERATURE AND CHANGE IN THE MODERN WORLD

30 credits

Level 3

First Sub Session

This course has been designed to be of particular interest to International Exchange and Erasmus students. It will deepen students’ knowledge of late 19th century and 20th century literature from a comparative perspective, encompassing poetry, drama, fiction and literary essay, whilst providing the opportunity to focus on assignments dealing with Scottish, American, British or European writing. It also offers insight into the importance of women’s writing (and issues of gender and identity more broadly) during the modern period. Beginning with late Victorian and fin de siècle gothic 'awakenings’, it will progress to a study of key Modernist ‘transformations’, ending with a consideration of postmodern ‘hauntings’ found in more contemporary texts. Writers studied include R.L. Stevenson, Virginia Woolf, D. H. Lawrence, Anne Sexton and Toni Morrison.

EL35DQ: KNIGHTS, VIRGINS AND VIRAGOS: CHAUCER AND MEDIEVAL WRITING

30 credits

Level 3

Second Sub Session

An introduction to late medieval-literature, challenging modern assumptions about the medieval and exploring the diverse range of medieval literary culture, from Chaucer's Canterbury Tales to the autobiographical narrative of Margery Kempe and surprising profanity of medieval lyric.

EL35EH: CLASSICAL EPIC

30 credits

Level 3

Second Sub Session

This course is your opportunity to study four of the most influential and gripping texts of world literature. We begin in the oral culture of ancient Greece, with the Iliad's stark meditation on war and death, and the Odyssey's consolatory reflections on divine justice, poetry and love. In imperial Rome, we see the genre transformed into a monument to political power in Virgil's Aeneid, then thrown into disarray by Ovid's irreverent anti-epic, the Metamorphoses. We end by considering some of the ways these texts have been exploited and adapted across the intervening centuries, in poetry and prose, art and film.

EL35KN: HAUNTED TEXTS

30 credits

Level 3

Second Sub Session

This course offers an overview of a wide range of twentieth-century Scottish literature, focusing on themes of haunting, death, and place. Including novels, short stories, poetry, and drama, the course explores questions of the relationship between self and society, the legacy of the past, and the formation of gendered and regional identities. There are lots of ghosts.

EL35QA: SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL: SCOTTISH SHORT STORIES

30 credits

Level 3

Second Sub Session

While the short story is often said to have developed in America, nineteenth-century Scottish writing is in fact instrumental in the emergence of the form. Often drawing on oral and folk traditions Scottish writers in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries employ the supernatural, or our fear of it, to explore subjects such as guilt, fear, remorse and the extent to which we can control our own destinies. This course will explore the ways in which the short story in Scotland develops from the early nineteenth century until the beginning of the twentieth. It will include writers such as Walter Scott, James Hogg, John Galt, Margaret Oliphant, Robert Louis Stevenson, Arthur Conan Doyle, Jane Findlater and Lewis Grassic Gibbon

EL35UT: ART AND ATROCITY: REPRESENTATIONS OF VIOLENCE AND TRAUMA

30 credits

Level 3

Second Sub Session

How is the artist to respond when the virtual becomes the real and when words cannot carry the weight of trauma? How can an author avoid the accusations of voyeuristic prurience or crass opportunism when he or she attempts to re-present events of public violence? This multi-disciplinary course examines work from a wide range of modes, including fiction, poetry, film and graphic art, and looks at the difficulties of inscribing trauma and the ethics and praxis of remembrance. Key events covered include the Holocaust, the Sabra and Shatila massacre, 9-11, the Gulf War and the conflict in the Balkans.

EL35VC: FALLEN WOMEN AND SELF-MADE MEN

30 credits

Level 3

Second Sub Session

The Victorian period is often seen as a time of sexual repression and rigid gender roles, in which men and women were expected to perform in accordance with established codes of behaviour that were based on assumptions about innate masculinity and femininity. While this perception of Victorian attitudes may be true to some extent, many Victorians were well aware of the dangers of gender stereotyping, and wrote fiction in order to interrogate and challenge these expectations. Focussing mainly on the novel, but including some poetry and drama, this module explores how Victorian writers engaged with gender stereotypes, and considers the literary tactics that authors used to re-examine, overthrow and sometimes reaffirm them. We will also consider how these stereotypes changed during the nineteenth century in response to public controversies and campaigns that kept questions of gender at the forefront of public consciousness. Figures such as the Fallen Woman, the Self-Made man and the Angel in the House will be explored in texts by authors including Emily Brontë, Christina Rossetti, Robert Louis Stevenson and Thomas Hardy.

EL40CT: CONTROVERSY AND DRAMA: MARLOWE TO REVENGE TRAGEDY

30 credits

Level 4

First Sub Session

This course begins by considering the theatre that gave us Marlowe and Shakespeare, among other major dramatists, as an institution actively engaged in the controversies of politics and religion of the age.  Part 1 of the course focuses on the plays of Christopher Marlowe, whose controversial life is unusually well documented and whose plays starkly anticipate later tensions in Elizabethan and Jacobean drama .  Part 2 considers how those tensions in politics and religion developed in later drama, giving particular attention to the genre of revenge tragedy. 

EL40HQ: LITERATURE AND MEDICINE

30 credits

Level 4

First Sub Session

This course explores the relationship between literature and medicine, and asks what kind of ground the two disciplines might share and how they might enrich one another.  The use and abuse of literary concepts in medical practice and of medical ideas and history in literature will be considered along with the literary representations of the physician and narratives of illness, focusing on the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The final part of the course explores the representation of psychiatry and psychiatric theory in twentieth- and twenty-first century literature.

EL40KF: VULNERABLE BODIES, PRECARIOUS LIVES

30 credits

Level 4

First Sub Session

What does it mean to inhabit a vulnerable body, or to embrace and celebrate ideas of vulnerability more generally? How can literature help us understand the precarity and uncertainty that seem like an inherent part of contemporary life? This course offers an overview of twenty-first-century women’s fiction from a variety of traditions, and centres on themes of embodiment, community, fragmentation, and environment. Examined together, these texts highlight the generic and thematic diversity of contemporary women’s writing, and the way the self must always be reconstructed through literature in new ways.

EL40SC: NOT THE QUEEN'S ENGLISH

30 credits

Level 4

First Sub Session

This course will focus on the ways in which non-standard English is used within anglophone literary texts from the late-eighteenth century to the present day. Classes will cover a wide range of geographical spaces and publishing contexts: different weeks will focus on ballad collecting and linguistic antiquarianism, the use of language in American abolitionist texts, working-class voices in nineteenth-century English novels, postcolonial approaches to English, Scottish post-industrial writing and contemporary African-American literature. Authors covered may include: Walter Scott, Robert Burns, Charles Dickens, Edwin Pugh, Zora Neale Hurston, Chinua Achebe, Jamaica Kincaid, Tom Leonard and Percival Everett.

EL40TL: BRIEF ENCOUNTERS

30 credits

Level 4

First Sub Session

Writing has not always been viewed as self-expression but for long periods of history was perceived as a branch of rhetoric or ‘persuasive speech’.  ‘Brief Encounters’ examines some of the implications of this, combining textual analysis from a writerly perspective with creative writing practice in a workshop format.  

EL40TM: SCREENWRITING: THE NARRATIVE WITHIN THE FRAME

30 credits

Level 4

First Sub Session

This course will investigate different forms of scriptwriting by writers from a range of historical periods. We will be considering narrative form and content as shaped by subject selection and storytelling devices and structures. The filmic themes will be considered from aesthetic, historical and theoretical perspectives. Through a series of seminars, workshops and screenings, students will develop approaches to visualising film narratives, culminating in a scriptwriting folio of work.

EL40UU: AMNESTY, AMNESIA, ARCHIVE

30 credits

Level 4

First Sub Session

From 1968-1994, Northern Irish writers and visual artists found themselves addressing key questions: what is the role of the artist in a divided society, and must s/he engage with political events? This course considers how the artists framed these dilemmas and how they have been framed by them. Following the outbreak of peace in the province, the role of artists changed: their work now focused on the victims of violence and to demand justice. This course examines the different approaches taken to remembrance by writers/artists and explores the ways in which memory and trauma are framed in their work.

EL40WH: ALL FOR ONE: THE POLITICS OF LOVE AND FRIENDSHIP IN LITERATURE

30 credits

Level 4

First Sub Session

This course focuses on the emphasis on sameness in conceptions of love and friendship within medieval and early modern literature, exploring its implications for the history of sexuality, and its impact on political ideology.

EL40YN: BRITISH POETRY OF THE 20TH CENTURY

30 credits

Level 4

First Sub Session

This course will explore the work of some of the most influential and innovative voices in 20th century British poetry.  Beginning with the Modernist revolution in technique, theory and taste, it will trace some of the main continuities and reactions that stemmed from the first decades of the century and which culminated in a richly diverse and fascinating late 20th century/early 21st century poetic landscape.

EL4502: ENGLISH DISSERTATION

30 credits

Level 4

Second Sub Session

Students will have the opportunity to write a dissertation on a topic of their choosing within English literature.

EL4508: CREATIVE WRITING FOLIO DISSERTATION

30 credits

Level 4

Second Sub Session

This course will provide students with the opportunity to write an extended folio of creative work in either poetry or prose. It will provide students with the opportunity to explore and extend their creative ambitions in writing and, through the reflective commentary element, enable them to contextualise their own creative achievements in relation to works by established writers. Throughout the evolution of the folio, the student will develop a thorough practical awareness of some of the key stylistic, formal and expressive possibilities available to the skilled creative writer.

EL4510: DISSERTATION IN SCOTTISH LITERATURE

30 credits

Level 4

Second Sub Session

Students will have the opportunity to write a dissertation on a topic of their choosing within Scottish literature.

EL45AD: STAGING THE CITY: RENAISSANCE URBAN DRAMA

30 credits

Level 4

Second Sub Session

Drama was the entertainment phenomenon of the early modern period: a popular art form that developed swiftly and attracted mass audiences. London was both the city that played host to this new cultural form, and the subject of much of its output. The course will examine the relation between life in the early modern city and the great flowering of drama by celebrated authors of the period.  Using works by well-known writers such as Middleton, Jonson and Shakespeare, as well as lesser known authors, we will explore how the plays of the period engage with key concerns of urban living.

EL45FJ: THE SHOCK OF THE NOW: CONTEMPORARY POETRY

30 credits

Level 4

Second Sub Session

This course introduces students to contemporary poetry across its many forms and styles. We will investigate the place for poetry in contemporary culture, whether in poetry anthologies, slim volumes of verse, in performance, or on social media. Looking at a wide range of authors active from the turn of the millennium on, we will trace a genealogy for contemporary poetry, as informed by the legacies of modernism, and subsequent waves of poetic schools and movements. The course is strongly recommended for students with an interest in poetry, literary form, contemporary British and Irish writing, and creative writing.

EL45JA: WANDERING WOMEN: LITERATURE, PLACE AND ENVIRONMENT

30 credits

Level 4

Second Sub Session

This course explores the work of women writers with particular emphasis on the role of place (focused mostly, but not exclusively, on modernist women writers from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries). We will look at a number of different environments including urban, rural, domestic and trans-national spaces. We will analyse place in relation to a number of other themes such as gender, sexuality, race, spirituality and creativity. We will read a number of canonical and lesser known women writers, working across various genres, including fiction, poetry and life-writing. Authors may include: Virginia Woolf, Zora Neale Hurston, Jean Rhys, Andrea Levy, Bernadine Evaristo, Elizabeth Bishop. Previous study of modernism is not required.

EL45PG: THE ART OF SCREENWRITING

30 credits

Level 4

Second Sub Session

This course will focus on the theory and the practical techniques of writing screenplays for cinema and for television. It will encourage students to put together the tool kit of skills which they will require to write effective screenplays based on both adapted source material and on original material. The course will survey the established skills of creating effective narrative screenplays across genres, but with an emphasis on contemporary dramatic cinema. 

EL45QV: HORRIBLE HISTORIES: VIOLENCE AND TRAUMA IN THE SCOTTISH NOVEL

30 credits

Level 4

Second Sub Session

Scotland's history is one of violence, bloodshed and trauma. This is reflected in its literature, above all in the fiction of the nineteenth century. Focusing on pivotal moments of upheaval in Scotland's past such as the Covenanting Wars and the Jacobite Risings this course will explore the ways in which these violent events are reflected in the works of writers such as Walter Scott, James Hogg, Robert Louis Stevenson and those in the modern period who have inherited their legacy. Exploring key concepts such as how the novel might approach and engage with the past, the extent to which it may operate as a form of commemoration and the limits which traumatic events place upon forms of narration, the course will examine the ways in which we can comprehend and remember a nation's violent history through the form of the novel.

EL45VA: SEX AND DEATH: EXPLORING THE FORBIDDEN IN GOTHIC FICTION

30 credits

Level 4

Second Sub Session

This course looks at how eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Gothic Fiction confronts themes and concepts which are considered taboo, unpleasant or strictly. Sexuality and mortality are key themes here, as well as the crossing of class, racial and gender boundaries. We explore how the Gothic can be simultaneously deeply conservative and shockingly radical, and speaks to private fears and desires whilst bringing to public light social injustices and inequalities. This course focuses mainly on the Gothic novel, but may also include poetry and short stories.

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