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English Literature MA

Mode Duration Start date
Full time 1 year September 2019
Full time 2 years including professional placement September 2019
Part time 2 years September 2019

Choose Kingston's English Literature MA

This innovative course focuses on dissident writing and transgressive texts, from the early modern period to the present, and from contexts from across the globe. Engaging with recent developments in theoretical and critical practice, the course will develop your knowledge and understanding of English literature and will sharpen your skills of literary research, writing and analysis.

Key features

  • You'll be taught by world-leading academics with highly rated research publications. You'll also find Kingston a supportive environment and be able to access plenty of resources to develop and perfect your study skills.
  • Course assessment is flexible and innovative, ranging from traditional essays and dissertations to blogs and multimedia presentations.
  • Capitalising on our location, several modules are complemented by field trips (for example, to the British Library, museums and theatres) to enhance and support your learning experience.
  • This course enables you to become part of a vibrant postgraduate community and attend extra-curricular events organised by the Writers' Centre Kingston and Cultural Histories at Kingston.

What will you study?

The core module, Transgression and Dissidence, introduces the course's central themes by focusing on texts that explore the limits of human experience and contravene cultural boundaries. You will explore how literature, through such transgression, has provided opportunities for dissent and resistance, and will consider the extent to which writing has acted as a catalyst for social and political change. You will then study various conceptual approaches to literature through your choice of option modules, which provide the opportunity to analyse and discuss a range of contentious issues across a number of historical periods and with respect to different genres.

Option modules provide opportunities to analyse and discuss a range of contentious issues across a number of historical periods and with respect to different genres. For example, Trauma and Justice interrogates the relationships between traumatic experience, human rights work and life narrative; Sex and Text examines the complex interactions between desire, embodiment and writing; and Mappings and Crossings explores the construction of place and identity in urban and imperial narratives.

The MA programme has been devised to allow you to study diverse topics and periods or, if you prefer, to focus on areas in which staff have particular research strengths: Renaissance literature and culture; Victorian literature, 20th-century and contemporary writing; literature, sex and gender; and writing, space and the environment.

Your 15,000-word dissertation will allow you to research a subject of your choice, produced under the supervision of a specialist academic member of staff.

Assessment

Essays and other written coursework, presentations, and dissertation.

Work placement scheme

Many postgraduate courses at Kingston University allow students to do a 12-month work placement as part of their course. The responsibility for finding the work placement is with the student; we cannot guarantee the work placement, just the opportunity to undertake it. As the work placement is an assessed part of the course, it is covered by a student's tier 4 visa.

Invoicing on the placement courses is split into two stages. The standard course fee is payable in year 1 with the placement fee invoiced in year 2. Therefore, students starting in September 2017 would therefore be charged the placement fee of £1,070 in September 2018. Students commencing the course in September 2018 will be invoiced the placement fee in 2019 (provisionally £1,230).

This amount will only be charged to your account after you find a placement and are enrolled on the module. You will not be charged this fee if you do not manage to secure a work placement.

Find out more about the postgraduate work placement scheme.

Course structure

Please note that this is an indicative list of modules and is not intended as a definitive list.

Example core modules

  • This is a core module for the MA in English. It consists of supervised independent research and writing and enables you to conduct detailed and extensive research into a distinctive area of enquiry and to present that research in a dissertation of approximately 15,000 words.

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  • The birth of modern literature is bloody, ill-tempered and violent in the flights of its newfound poetic imagination. Terror and sensation define the novel and degeneration underpins imperial encounters with modes of otherness it can neither conquer nor avoid. Modern challenges to conventions of form also spill over and disturb the bounds of experience, consciousness and good taste amid changing social mechanisms; later provocations – obscene and disturbing in terms of theme and content – assume a role in the vanguard of social and political liberations of consciousness, sexuality, and nation: democratic contestations and freedoms are found and founder in apparently darker literary impulses.

              This core module on the English Literature MA examines the transgressive potentiality of literature. It focuses on textual material that explores the limits of human experience, contravenes cultural boundaries and troubles established verities. It also asks how literature, through such transgressions, has provided opportunities for dissent and resistance, and considers the extent to which literature has thereby acted as a catalyst for social and political change. It interrogates a range of critical approaches to literature, transgression and dissent, and assesses the possibilities and limitations of various modes of dissident scholarship.

              Students will engage with five literary texts drawn from different periods and contexts (these might include a Renaissance drama, an eighteenth-century Gothic novel, a nineteenth century sensation novel; a twentieth-century postmodern novel; and a contemporary work of postcolonial fiction); each will be approached through a selection of critical materials that provide complimentary and competing frameworks for evaluating literary transgression and the scope literature offers for political and sexual dissidence. In so doing the module also introduces students to several of the thematic and theoretical preoccupations of the MA course's optional and special studies modules.

    Read full module description

     

Optional modules

  • 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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  • 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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  • The module is designed to introduce students to some issues of critical and literary theory. The module is also designed to make students more aware of how their work impacts upon wider literary, cultural, political and philosophical issues. Awareness of these theories and of some of the issues surrounding the production and reception of literary texts will stimulate them, encouraging creative and conceptual thinking.  The module will explore debates about literature and the practice of creative writing through readings of essays and texts that are relevant to criticism and theory.  The academic component of the assessment will support the creative work with the objective that students will also have to demonstrate critical, academic, analytical skills.

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  • Salman Rushdie, Mary Wollstonecraft, Geoffrey Chaucer, Audre Lorde, Charlotte Bronte, Chinua Achebe, Mary Shelley, John Milton, Lawrence Sterne, Gertrude Stein, James Baldwin, Toni Morrison...the list is endless. At every point in literary history there are writers who break the mould and challenge the status quo. Whether it is through writing epics that endure through centuries, addressing the injustices of the time or challenging the very notion of what a novel, poem or a play can do, writers can be radical in a number of exciting ways. This module looks at works by radical writers in depth, studying one famous text in detail by a range of writers from different time periods and taught by lecturers who are experts in these writers. We will look at the context of each text as well as the way the text is written, determining why these radical writers have been so successful and looking at the effects their texts have had on the world around them. We will look at the idea of the literary 'canon', made up of writers who have been radical in some way, and consider the way that this idea can be challenged, reinvigorated or refreshed.

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  • Throughout its history, the American nation has centred its identity upon notions of protest, resistance and dissent: a questioning of authority that has come to define American ideas of democratic freedom and individuality. This module explores how writers of poetry and prose from the 19th century to the present have asserted the American consciousness through literatures of counter-cultural resistance, challenging political ideologies, and questioning established modes of thinking. We will explore movements such as Transcendentalism, the Beats, Black Arts, and the New York School and their production of a counter-cultural aesthetic. Alongside this, we will consider individual writers who have responded to dominant discourses surrounding race, gender, nationalism, capitalism, and war - writers such as Harriet Beecher Stowe, Charles Chesnutt, Ernest Hemingway, F Scott Fitzgerald, William Faulkner, Zora Neale Hurston, Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Leslie Marmon Silko, George Saunders and Thomas Pynchon. How, we ask, have these writers and movements both responded to and shaped the idea of American identity through a politics that is both radical and anti-authoritarian? The module is assessed by a combination of two short essays, discussion posts and a long critical essay.

     
  • What does it mean to be human? What does it means to post-human? Who are our postmodern monsters? And what is the relationship between these differently defined subjects and the environments - built, natural, virtual - in which they exist? In this module we examine literature that has asked these questions, investigating how narratives of modernity have interrogated assumptions about the relationship between living subjects and the physical world, and indeed the way in which both those subjects and that world are conceived. Framed by ecocritical and spatial theory, we will consider how narrative explores the way in which the physical world has been treated in the current age - the age described as the Anthropocene  - and how it has played a role in re-shaping our understanding of that world, and the changing idea of what constitutes the human. Alongside this, we will consider how literature illuminates the ways in which spaces and places are themselves implicated in these definitions, with particular consequences for questions of race, gender, class, and sexuality. The module will include field trips to relevant sites such as urban developments and local wildlife centres, and will be assessed by a combination of essay and critical reflection.

     
  • This module examines the rich and dynamic presence of British black and Asian writing from the mid-17th century to the present. Exploring the ways in which black and Asian writing has contributed to definitions of Britishness for more than 300 years, it examines how black writers have produced formally innovative and conceptually challenging responses to questions of race, class, gender and identity, while simultaneously making significant creative contributions to the fields of drama, prose, poetry, and life-writing. In the first half of the module, you will study a range of early British texts from the mid-17th century to the 19th century from writers such as Equiano and Mary Seacole, alongside contemporary works which have reflected on the black cultural presence in Britain during this period, while the second half of the module turns to 20th century and contemporary texts by writers such as Zadie Smith. Andrea Levy, Monica Ali, Hanif Kureishi, Meera Syal, Gautam Malkani, Leila Aboulela, Jackie Kay and John Agard, contextualised by appropriate critical and cultural theories from thinkers such as Paul Gilroy and Stuart Hall. The module is assessed by a flexible assessment strategy which allows you to respond to the module through a combination of critical essay, performance and/or creative writing, and discussion posts documenting engagement and critical response. 

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  • This optional Level 6 module allows you to pursue Shakespeare studies at an advanced level and is founded upon a detailed and extensive study of the writer and his works.  Consideration will be given to a range of critical approaches to Shakespeare as well as the long history and dynamic status of Shakespeare in performance and adaptation, for example in relation to questions of gender, identity and globalisation.  You will be encouraged to reflect upon the role of Shakespeare in culture now as well as relevant contemporary contexts such as the nature of early modern theatregoing alongside crucial political and religious conditions. Teaching on the module will be closely aligned with the rich resources available at the Rose Theatre and in particular will afford you the opportunity to participate in the stimulating series of talks and events organised as part of the Kingston Shakespeare Seminar (KiSS).

    Read full module description

     

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.

Regulations governing this course are available here

Details of term dates for this course can be found here

Contact our admissions team

Submit an enquiry

020 3308 9930*

*Calls cost 7p per minute from a UK landline plus your phone company's access charge. Calls to this number from mobiles are normally deductible from your inclusive minutes.

Location

This course is taught at Penrhyn Road

View Penrhyn Road on our Google Maps

Contact our admissions team

Submit an enquiry

020 3308 9930*

*Calls cost 7p per minute from a UK landline plus your phone company's access charge. Calls to this number from mobiles are normally deductible from your inclusive minutes.

Location

This course is taught at Penrhyn Road

View Penrhyn Road on our Google Maps
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