School of English and Drama

Pathway 3: Eighteenth-Century Literature and Romanticism

The Eighteenth-Century Literature and Romanticism pathway uses interdisciplinary approaches to explore the origins and impact of the Romantic movement and literature’s connections with philosophy, politics, history, and culture from 1700 to 1830.

Please note for 2019/20 entry:

Our MA English Programmes are currently undergoing a review to ensure the content continues to offer an outstanding teaching and learning experience for our students. 

Your programme will offer specially-designed core modules alongside the opportunity to choose from a range of electives in specialist areas.

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This MA pathway combines close reading of texts by a wide range of male and female authors with interdisciplinary study of the broader culture of the 18th and early 19th centuries, examining the period’s dramatic changes in literature and literary theory alongside developments in philosophy, politics, history, and other art forms. We explore the popular culture of the coffee house and tavern, the political world on the street and in parliament, the vocations of women poets and polemicists, polite society and its management of the emotions, epistolary culture, religious dissent, and the metropolitan life of London. We also study the influence of the Enlightenment, the origins and impact of the Romantic movement, the role of literary manifestos and defences, generic innovation and experiment, periodical culture, Romantic science and medicine, relations between British and European Romanticism, the French Revolution and its aftershocks, and the literary and artistic culture of the Regency.

The pathway combines specially-designed core and elective modules with the opportunity to select further options from across the whole range of MA modules on offer in the Department of English. You may also opt to take a cognate elective module offered by other Schools in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences and by other Colleges of the University of London.

The Department of English has notable research and teaching strengths in both the eighteenth century and Romanticism, with the highest concentration of staff in these fields anywhere in London and one of the highest in the UK. Recently appointed staff in Romanticism include Pamela Clemit, an authority on William Godwin and Mary Shelley, and David Duff, author of Romanticism and the Uses of Genre and editor of The Oxford Handbook of British Romanticism. They join Paul Hamilton, a renowned scholar and theorist of British and European Romanticism, James Vigus, author of Platonic Coleridge and series editor of the Henry Crabb Robinson Project, and Shahidha Bari, author of Keats and Philosophy and a well-known broadcaster.

Staff working on eighteenth-century topics include Markman Ellis, author The Coffee-House: A Cultural History and The History of Gothic Fiction, Chris Reid, an expert on Burke, Sheridan and the history of oratory, Tessa Whitehouse, author of The Textual Culture of English Protestant Dissent 1720-1800, Isabel Rivers, founder of the Dissenting Academies Project, and Barbara Taylor, author of Mary Wollstonecraft and the Feminist Imagination. Matthew Mauger and Richard Coulton both work on the cultural history of London, their joint publications including (with Markman Ellis) The Empire of Tea: The Asian Leaf that Conquered the World and (with Chris Reid) Stealing Books in Eighteenth Century London. For further details see individual staff pages.


Compulsory modules:

Option modules:

You choose three modules from a list of options that changes from year to year (one can be from the range of modules offered across the MA English Studies curriculum). In 2017-2018 we hope to offer the following. If members of our specialist research staff win research funding it will mean that their module won’t run, so for that reason this list is indicative only.  

You may, subject to availability and the approval of the School, take one of your option modules from across a range offered by other Schools in the Humanities and Social Science Faculty, or from other Colleges of the University of London.

In addition to taught modules, we run a range of research seminars to which all MA students are invited. Some of these are linked to our interdisciplinary Research Centres, such as the Centre for Eighteenth Century Studies, the Centre for Religion and Literature in English and the Centre for the History of the Emotions.

Others are collaborations with other institutions, such as the London-Paris Romanticism Seminar. With visiting speakers from across the world, these seminars are an opportunity to meet other postgraduate students and members of staff and to learn about the latest developments in research.