Canadian Literature, Film and Culture
This interdisciplinary module offers an introduction to Canadian cultural studies through an examination of selected literary, film and visual texts. These cultural texts will be situated in their historical, political, regional and national contexts. While some reference is made to earlier periods, the focus is predominantly on the twentieth century. The module addresses debates about cultural definition and the construction and deconstruction of cultural stereotypes. Possible topics include the wilderness, migration, Native culture, bilingualism and biculturalism versus multiculturalism, the emergence of cultural nationalism, popular culture, and Canada’s relationship to the U.S. The module provides grounding for further study in Canadian topics. You will spend around four hours per week in lectures, seminars and workshops.
American Literature and Culture 1: To 1945
This is an introductory survey of major American literature and its connections to a wider cultural context. It explores a wide range of nineteenth century and early twentieth-century American writers of fiction and poetry. The module also addresses those questions about the nature of the ‘canon’ raised by recent critics. It is seen as a core module, which will give the grounding for further study of American literature. Around four hours per week will be spent in lectures and seminars studying this module.
American Literature and Culture 2: Since 1945
This is a core module providing a general survey of American literature and culture from 1945 to the present. A representative selection of American fiction, poetry and drama will be studied and particular attention will be paid to the changes in literary form and content over the period, and to the way in which this literature relates to its wider cultural context. Questions of canon formation will also be addressed. You’ll spend around 4 hours per week in lectures and seminars for this module.
You may choose three out of four modules
Language and Context
This module considers the main forms and functions of English vocabulary, grammar and discourse and explores how they are used in real social and cultural contexts. You will look at how language is used for different purposes and how people use language to reveal and conceal social realities as well other topics surrounding language and context. For this module you will have a one-hour lecture, one-hour workshop and a one-hour seminar per week.
Beginnings of English
You will be introduced to the language, literature and culture of medieval England and study Old and Middle English texts. In this module you will familiarise yourself with the knowledge needed for reading and understanding medieval texts. In addition you will be introduced to the basics of grammar and spelling conventions. For this module you will have two 1-hour lectures and one 1-hour seminar per week.
This module will introduce some of the core skills necessary for literary studies through focus on specific poetry and prose texts. You will address topics including: close reading, constructing an argument and handling critical material. For this module you will have 3 hours per week in lectures and seminars.
Drama, Theatre, Performance
This module, taught through a combination of practical workshops, seminars, and lectures, considers key concepts in the study of dramatic texts, theatre history and performance. The module frames these concepts, taking into consideration questions about who performs, where, to whom, why and how, through explorations of key moments in the Western theatrical tradition. You will spend 3 hours per week studying this module.
North American Regions
This module will deploy the concept of "region" and, more broadly, “place” to explore key North American texts – drawn primarily from the spheres of film, television and literature. The notion of the "regional" will be applied expansively as well as conventionally to incorporate everything from the urban to the suburban/exurban; border territories; the transnational. Possible areas of study may include the American West; the Pacific North-West; New York City; the black inner city “ghetto”; "mountain" people and the Appalachians; Hispanic-America; First Nations; French-Canada; Texas; Chicago; New Orleans; California; and the transnational impact of extensive US military occupations (post-war Japan; South Vietnam; twenty-first century Iraq).
You will pick two modules from American Studies and choose three modules from across four sections in English.
North American Film and Television
This module examines the form and content of North American cinema and television in the twenty-first century and the forces and trends shaping the nature of American and Canadian films and television programmes. Topics for discussion will include the different film and broadcasting industries in the US and Canada, representation of the past in contemporary cinema and television, representations of technology, identity, gender, and race, and the Canada-US border. If you study this module you’ll spend around 2 hours in lectures and seminars, and 2.5 hours in film workshops, per week.
This module examines the history of American popular music in the Twentieth Century, focusing on the major genres and exploring the artistic, cultural and political issues they raise. You will examine music’s aesthetic qualities genre by genre, as well as key developments within the music industry, the ways in which commercial and technological changes have influenced the production and consumption of music, and the ways in which musicians and audiences use pop music to engage with American culture and society. You'll spend around 4 hours per week in lectures and seminars for this module.
The Contemporary American Novel
This module covers a representative sample of important literary fiction produced since 2000. It explores how writers have engaged with themes of race, class, gender, religion, labour and war, and the uses of historical revisionism, identity politics, and regionalism. The module covers a variety of narrative forms, genres and critical theories, from fictionalised life-writing and family sagas to speculative fiction and counter-historical narratives to transnational writing and war fiction. If you study this module, you’ll spend around three hours per week in lectures and seminars.
African American History and Culture
This module examines African American history and culture from slavery to the present through a series of case studies that highlight forms of cultural advocacy and resistance. Examples may include the persistence of African elements in slave culture, the emergence of new artistic forms in art, religion and music during the segregation era, and the range and complexity of African American engagement with US public culture since the 1960s across art, literature and popular culture. You will spend 3 hours per week studying this module.
This module will examine American radicals since the American Revolution. Nineteenth-century subjects will include the abolitionists, early feminism, utopian socialism, anarchism, and farmer populism. Twentieth-century subjects will include the Socialist Party in the 1910s, the Communist Party and the anti-Stalinist left in the 1930s, opponents of the Cold War, the 1960s New Left, Black Power militancy, and recent radicalisms, including the gay liberation movement, women's liberation, and resistance to corporate globalization. You will spend 3 hours per week studying this module.
The US and the World in the American Century: US Foreign Policy (1898 — 2008)
This module examines how America’s involvement abroad has changed over time from the war of 1898 to the twenty-first century. It analyses how traditional political and diplomatic issues, the link between foreign and domestic policies, and the role of foreign actors and private organisations—from religious groups to NGOs—have shaped America’s actions abroad. It also explores the significance of race, gender, emotions, and religion in shaping US foreign policy. You will spend 3 hours per week studying this module.
American Violence: A History
This module analyses the patterns and prevalence of violence in the USA. It will consider theories about its origins in frontier settler societies, the relationship between violence and the gun control debate and the related issue of American ideological antipathy to state power. It will consider the celebration of violence as a source of conflict resolution and examine the US government’s use of violence as an instrument of foreign policy. You will spend 3 hours per week studying this module.
Immigration and Ethnicity in the United States
This course examines the history of immigration to the United States from Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America. It traces the development of immigrant communities, cultures and identities from the nineteenth century to the present day. The module draws on historical, literary and cultural texts, with sources ranging from political cartoons, fiction and testimony to photography, documentary film, digital art and video performance. You will spend 3 hours per week studying this module.
A History of Crime and Punishment
This module explores the history of crime and punishment in the United States from the period of the US Civil War through to the post-World War II/Cold War years. It looks at the shift from public to ‘private’ punishments, including the early nineteenth century ‘invention’ of the penitentiary and development of ‘modern’ police and the emergence of distinct regional differences in rates of violent crime and official responses. You will spend 3 hours per week in lectures and seminars.
You must choose three modules in English covering at least two of the following areas:
Literature 1500 to the Present
Each of the modules offered will provide a comprehensive introduction to the changes in the genres of prose, poetry and drama across the period studied, placing the works encountered in the context of key aesthetic, social and political/historical contexts.
English Language and Applied Linguistics
Building on the study of English language undertaken in year one, your second year language modules provide the exciting opportunity for you to explore aspects of language use in the mind, in society and in literature.
Medieval Languages and Literatures
You can choose to pursue one or more of the medieval areas introduced in year one, or you can opt to study a new but related area. In all cases you will develop your understanding of language change and variety, registers, styles, modes and genres, as they appear in medieval texts, and become more expert in reading with reference to wider medieval cultures.
Year two modules provide the opportunity to develop approaches from the first year by studying 20th and 21st-century theatre; by exploring key critical approaches to drama in theory and practice, and by focusing on a key period in the development of our nation’s theatre.
For a sample of typical modules from each area please see our single honours BA English listing.
You will undertake an in-depth study into a chosen subject within American and Canadian Studies and produce either a 5-7,000 word or a 10-12,000 word dissertation. There may also be scope to write a project comparing topics within the fields of British and North American literature and culture.
Across the Pond: Transatlantic Literature and Culture
This module examines nineteenth-century American and British fiction, magazines, drama, and visual culture to explore how imaginative exchanges between writers, and the physical circulation of books and texts across the Atlantic put two nations in dialogue. It explores how transatlantic plots and images connect with the gothic genre, historical romance, discussions about race, gender, and social class, and debates about “national literature.” You’ll spend 3 hours in lectures and seminars on this module.
American Madness: Mental Health and Illness in History and Culture
This module explores how ideas about madness, insanity, and mental illness have changed from the mid-nineteenth-century to the present. We will consider how and why medical authority, gender, and class have all impacted the way in which mental illness is understood, and consider the significance of changing approaches to treatment. Sources used on this interdisciplinary module range from medical accounts and psychiatric theory to memoir, fiction and film. You will spend 3 hours per week studying this module.
This module explores the main developments in North American drama from the late-eighteenth century to the present day. It examines how different theatrical movements – melodrama, minstrelsy, the ‘freak’ show, expressionism, social realism, the musical – connect with major historical events such as the American Revolution, the Civil War, the Great Depression and the Cold War. The module includes practical workshops around the staging, acting, directing and promotion of specific plays. You will spend 4 hours per week studying this module.
You’ll explore the United States' experiment with Prohibition during the period 1918 to 1933, with particular focus on crime, disorder and policing. The rise of organized crime will be considered, along with gangsters and G-men, the expanding crime fighting role of the state, the federal crime crusade of the early 1930s and the inglorious end of Prohibition. You’ll spend around 3 hours per week in lectures and seminars.
Ethnic and New Immigrant Writing in the United States
This course examines the development of ‘ethnic’ and new immigrant literature from the late nineteenth century to the contemporary era. It examines life-writing, short fiction and novels by writers from various ethno-cultural backgrounds, including Irish, Jewish, Caribbean and Asian American. Issues for discussion include race, ethnicity, gender, class, sexuality and regionalism; the American canon and multiculturalism. You will spend 3 hours per week in lectures and seminars.
This module examines Americans' differing attitudes toward sexuality over time. Representative topics may include marriage and adultery, homosexuality and heterosexuality, nudity, abortion, birth control, prostitution, free love, and rape. The module covers a range of debates about sexuality from colonial America's family-centred production and Puritanism to slavery, “miscegenation” and interracial sexuality, and contraceptive technologies including the pill. You will spend 3 hours per week studying this module.
This module provides a survey of Latino cultures from the colonial period to the present by exploring the cultural expression of people of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban and Dominican descent. It covers various cultural genres, forms and sites: art, architecture, music, testimony, poetry, performance and religious expression; heritage, museum and media industries; and elite, popular and everyday cultural expressions. You’ll spend 3 hours per week in lectures and seminars if you study this module.
Contemporary Canadian Literature
Focusing on Canadian authors, this module examines literature published since 2000. It examines how the Canadian nation is imagined through key literary texts in an increasingly globalised world. Discussions will include contemporary Canadian literature’s relationships to postcolonialism, globalisation, multiculturalism, Indigeneity, genre, and the US and 9/11. You will spend 4 hours per week studying this module.
Popular Music Cultures and Countercultures
You’ll examine the role played by American popular music in countercultural movements, focusing on the ways in which subordinate groups have used popular music as a vehicle for self-definition. Considering key issues and moments in American popular music history, you’ll cover topics such as the folk revival and the 1930s, rock 'n' roll and desegregation in the 1950s, rock music and the 1960s, and postmodernism in the music of the MTV age. Around three hours per week will be spent in lectures and seminars studying this module.
This module explores a range of LGBTQ2 writing (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, transgender, queer), focusing on representations of sexuality, gender and (identity) politics in selected contemporary texts. Issues for discussion include: representations of LGBTQ2 existence in heteronormative society; constructions of masculinity and femininity; sexual citizenship; the relation of race, ethnicity, class and nationality to issues of gender and sexual identity; and topical issues related to homophobia, gay marriage. You’ll spend three hours per week in seminars and lectures.
In the Midst of Wars: The United States and South East Asia, 1940-1975
You’ll consider American attitudes, perceptions and policies toward South East Asia from the Second World War until the end of the Vietnam War. Focus will be on the course of the Vietnam War, the role of different players (beyond the US) and the reasons that the US became involved. You’ll also consider the wider scope of US policy in Asia during the period and the outlines of the wider Cold War. For this module, you’ll spend around three hours per week in lectures and seminars.
The Civil War and its Origins 1850-1865
You’ll consider the collapse of the American Republic in 1861, including events in the decade preceding it and the course of the war which followed it. You’ll focus on the origins of the Civil War and the reasons for Union victory and Confederate defeat. You’ll spend three hours per week in lectures and seminars.
You will have the opportunity to study a range of authors, genres, linguistic approaches, and textual forms and contexts, in both national and international contexts, thinking about English in the broadest possible terms. You will also have the opportunity to specialise in areas for which you have developed genuine aptitude and passion during your undergraduate career.
A typical list of options available can be found on our single honours BA English listing.
The modules we offer are inspired by the research interests of our staff and as a result may change for reasons of, for example, research developments or legislation changes. The above list is a sample of typical modules we offer, not a definitive list.