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Literature and Philosophy MA

Mode Duration Attendance Start date
Full time 1 year Two days per week To be confirmed
Part time 2 years One day per week September 2018

Choose Kingston's Literature and Philosophy MA

The Literature and Philosophy MA draws on the interdisciplinary relationship between literature and philosophy. It combines rigorous philosophical and cutting-edge literary study, at the same time as critically examining questions pertaining to the relationship between the two disciplines in an inclusive, critical and non-partisan manner.

The course demands the best of its students, while at the same time providing a supportive pedagogical environment, in which teaching is student-centred and research led. You will be challenged to engage in critical thinking in ways that will prepare you for a range of careers.

On the course you will be able to draw on the resources of not only literature and philosophy, but also creative writing, journalism and publishing, and in a faculty that incorporates the study of film, psychoanalysis, drama and dance. You can therefore take advantage of a broad range of intellectual and creative resources.

What will you study?

The course offers you a broad range of topics in English, including gender, race theory and postcolonial literature and theory medieval literature, Shakespeare, the gothic, the American Suburban novel, Iris Murdoch, slavery and empire. It also offers you the chance to engage in continental philosophy with an emphasis on deconstruction, French thought, German idealism, critical theory, aesthetics, contemporary feminist, modern continental thought and psychoanalysis. The core module offers you the chance to interrogate the boundary between English and philosophy, focusing on their divergent assumptions as well as their connections. It pushes you to think about what is unique to each discipline, and what each discipline can bring to the other.

Assessment

Coursework and dissertation.

Course structure

Please note that this is an indicative list of modules and is not intended as a definitive list. Those listed here may also be a mixture of core and optional modules.

Modules

  • This core module, to be taken in the first teaching block of the MA in Literature and Philosophy, has been designed to give students a solid foundation in core issues, questions and debates relating to the nature of the relationship between literature and philosophy, on which they will be able to draw throughout their degree. The module opens with an introductory session that explores the questions raised by interdisciplinary study and the ways in which interdisciplinarity is to function during the course, encouraging students to consider the ways in which literature and philosophy can think together in a manner that exceeds either discipline's methodological or conceptual aims.

    The module is then divided into two core blocks that frame central philosophical and literary issues in relation to each other. In the first, philosophy as literature, the module examines the ways in which philosophical texts draw on and expose questions of literature and the imagination, through their concern with issues such as representation, interpretation, the nature of meaning and language, rhetoric and concepts of politics and authority. How for example does Deleuze's interest in and replication of literary form contribute to the politics of his philosophy? How does one read Derrida's literary reference points as philosophical interventions? What are the implications of the Kantian legacy for our conception of creativity? How does Sartre offer us a philosophy of literary representation? In the second, literature as philosophy, the module explores how literary texts have functioned as interventions into philosophical debates. Why, for example, was Iris Murdoch defined as novelist philosopher? How is twentieth-century French philosophy woven into the concerns of contemporary fiction? When taken alongside each other, how do the differing modes of representing reality offered by literature and philosophy enhance each other's material concerns? The module is delivered by a weekly two and a half hour interactive workshop session in which students will be encouraged to present informal papers and lead discussions.

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  • This optional module problematizes the notion of ‘the human' from a range of critical and philosophical standpoints. It asks whether technological developments, from artificial intelligence to virtual reality, have decentred our traditional understandings of consciousness, perception and embodiment, and if new political and social formations undermine any meaningful sense of shared human experience. It also interrogates the moral and epistemological bases for significant relationships between humans and other species, and asks what, if anything, humans can learn from non-human agents. These questions inform a critical engagement with a selection contemporary works of global literature.

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  • This module examines the ways literature has helped to imagine, construct and reconceive spaces, places, and populations, from those at home and in the city, to ones of exploration and empire. The module approaches diverse literary material of the colonial period – from travel writing to adventure fiction – through theoretical frameworks derived from critical geography, postcolonial criticism and cultural studies. Key concepts such as the contact zone, transculturation, hybridity, mimicry, and borderland are examined and debated in order to develop a critical understanding of how literature maps territories, represents places, and transgresses spatial and subjective boundaries. The module also pays particular attention to how gender, race, class and national identity intersect and inform the ways in which writers engage with particular spaces.

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  • This optional module in the MA course in English Literature studies early modern gender, culture and international exchange. You will explore cultural exchanges – of goods, styles, individuals, texts, artworks, and ideas – between sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Britain and the Continent, with a special concentration on London’s emergence as a world capital. The module studies these international exchanges largely through the lives and works of early modern women and through male-authored works which comment upon women’s roles, for two reasons. First, although men’s and women’s experiences were similar, important differences in early modern culture placed women in a tense, symbolic relationship to foreign influences. This is especially true in England, where the island’s national and cultural insularity was often gendered as feminine, reflecting the reign of a female monarch throughout most of the sixteenth century. Secondly, women’s strategies for stepping beyond domestic boundaries to publish or circulate texts parallels the political and social strategies informing exchanges from one national or cultural context to another. Thus the period’s ‘traffic in women,’ to borrow Gayle Rubin’s familiar phrase, provides a concise metaphor for its traffic in goods and ideas.

     
  • Literature has a long history of representing the erotic, and of exploring, affirming and contesting ideas about the body. This optional module explores how modern writers have, from the late-nineteenth century to the present, engaged with moral, legal and scientific understandings of sexuality, and considers the impact of feminist criticism, queer theory and pornography studies upon how we think about the complex and often difficult relationship between sex and writing. You will critically examine provocative and formally challenging textual material in order to debate a range of contentious issues and themes, such as sexual morality and censorship, literary and journalist accounts of prostitution, the supposed distinctions between literature, erotica and pornography, the effects of new technologies on the representation of sexual desire, and utopian and radical visions of sex and society.

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  • Personal testimonies and oral and textual representations of traumatic experience are the life force of human rights work, and rights claims have brought profound power to the practice of historical and autobiographically based writing. This module uses a range of approaches from a number of disciplines to explore the connections and conversations between human rights and the representation of familial and socio/historical traumatic experiences in writing. We will examine traumatogenic works by survivor-writers who are eyewitnesses to slavery, genocide, and forced displacement as well as those who have experienced personal, familial violence and rights abuse. We will also look at works by theorists of trauma and autobiographical writing, documentary filmmakers and human rights advocates making use of literary/critical, historical, psychological, and rights advocacy approaches in our discussions.

    The module will have four key sections sections—testimony, recognition, representation, and justice—evoking the key stages in turning experience into a human rights story. In doing so it attends to such diverse and varied arts as autobiography, documentary film, report, oral history, blog, and verbatim theater. It will begin by looking at moving personal accounts from those who have endured persecution, imprisonment, and torture; turn to meditations on experiences of injustice and protest by creative writers and filmmakers; and finally explore innovative research on ways that digital media, commodification, and geopolitics are shaping what is possible to hear and say.

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  • This module involves guided study of two or three major works of twentieth-century French philosophy, focusing each year on the work of two related thinkers. Possible topics include: Sartre or de Beauvoir's existentialism, Levinasian ethics, Merleau-Ponty's theory of embodied perception, Foucault's theory of power, Derrida's practice of deconstruction, Deleuze's conception of difference, Badiou's concepts of the subject and truth.

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  • This module aims to investigate, via the concept of plasticity, the relations between 'thought' and 'form, that have structured certain central aspects of nineteenth and twentieth-century 'continental' philosophy. Each year, these relations are studied from a different point of view, and in relation to different thinkers. Thinkers covered might include Hegel, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Foucault and Derrida. Each year the locus of study might include broad areas such as 'writing' (in Derrida's sense), 'literature' (Dichtung), 'habit', and 'trace'.

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  • Based on a study of artists' texts, art criticism, art history and philosophical writings on art, this module comprises a critical examination of the legacy and possibilities of modernist and avant-garde criticism in contemporary art theory. As well as introducing students to some of the major texts and ideas in these traditions of art theory and art criticism, the modules aims to enable students to reflect critically on works of contemporary art in the light of their study.

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You will have the opportunity to study a foreign language, free of charge, during your time at the University as part of the Kingston Language Scheme. Options currently include: Arabic, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.

We aim to ensure that all courses and modules advertised are delivered. However in some cases courses and modules may not be offered. For more information about why, and when you can expect to be notified, read our Changes to Academic Provision.

A copy of the regulations governing this course is available here

Details of term dates for this course can be found here

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Location

This course is taught at Penrhyn Road

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Contact us

Admissions team

*5p per minute from a BT landline. Call charges from other providers may vary.

Location

This course is taught at Penrhyn Road

View Penrhyn Road on our Google Maps
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