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School of Languages Linguistics and Film

Comparative Literature and Culture menu

First-Year Modules (Level 4)

  • Introduction to Literature: Texts and Contexts
    This module provides an accessible but challenging introduction to the study of literature. It offers students an opportunity to explore both literary texts and the critical and theoretical contexts that shape our interpretation of them. Through the close analysis of a whole range of short texts and extracts, this module considers the literary in relation to popular culture, and examines critical concepts such as genre, period, influence, and the canon. No language requirement.

  • Introduction to Comparison
    This module builds on the knowledge acquired in Introduction to Literature. It aims to familiarise you with Comparative Literature as an academic discipline and to help you develop key comparatist skills such as comparative commentary writing and passage selection. Drawing on a corpus of primary texts centring on Robinson Crusoe, the module aims to explore the various ways in which texts can be connected and compared, as well as the reasoning behind such endeavours. In addition to activities traditionally associated with Comparative Literature such as reception and influence studies, the module will also examine recent developments in the discipline, notably theories of intertextuality, translation studies and postcolonial/area studies.

  • Understanding Culture: An Introduction to Cultural Theory
    Building on your knowledge of literature, art, history, and science - and at the same time expanding this knowledge and challenging its certainties - this course will give you insight into all the major approaches to culture since the nineteenth century. It analyses various definitions of culture and explores the historical contexts in which they were formulated and gained currency, always with an eye on current developments and issues. The course is highly interactive, taught as one two-hour unit per week (consisting of a lecture followed immediately by discussion).

  • The Scene of Learning
    We will be comparing and contrasting a range of texts drawn from a number of different cultural contexts in which the processes of teaching and learning figure prominently. You will be encouraged to reflect on your status as learners and on learning experiences more generally, considering your experiences to date as well as your expectations as to what a university education can offer and provide.

  • Brief Encounters: Short Stories and Tall Tales
    This module provides an introduction to that most adaptable of literary forms: the short story. It explores texts ranging from the comic to the disturbing, and from the early modern to the post-modern, by major European and Latin American Authors. Texts will be studied in translation.

  • European Literature and its Contexts
    This module introduces students to a variety of key literary and cultural figures, periods and movements that have influenced the development of literature and culture across Europe over the centuries. We begin in the first semester with classical Greece, before moving on, via the medieval period, the renaissance, the Reformation and Counter-Reformation, to the enlightenment and Romanticism. In the second semester, the focus is upon twentieth-century developments in particular: Modernism, Existentialism, feminism, Structuralism and post-modernism. Through the study of texts from a wide range of genres (philosophical writings, short stories, poetry, drama, essays and film) and originating not only from a variety of eras but also locations (for example, Greece, France, Germany, Portugal, Spain, England, Russia), an overview of the contexts and developments of European literature will be provided.

  • Catalan Culture: Art, Literature and Football
    This module offers a general introduction to modern and contemporary Catalan culture from the nineteenth to the twenty-first century. Topics covered include: nationalism; the politics of language; the avant-garde art of Salvador Dalí and Miró; literature; football. There is no language requirement for this module; therefore it is suitable for students with no knowledge of Catalan and Spanish.

  • German Romanticism in its European Context
    Romanticism was one of the defining periods in modern cultural history. Religious, philosophical and (para-)scientific phenomena were hotly debated, psychology was established and an awareness of politics became a dominant fact of life. Given wide-spread censorship the literary journal and the salon emerged as most important fora for debate. Aesthetically, a particular attraction of Romanticism was the sharing of closely related artistic experiences, such as the affirmation of sensuality and the eternal yearning for temporary fulfilment, throughout Europe for some five decades. Structured round a series of themes, this course will put German examples into the context of the European movement as a whole.

  • Kleist and Kafka: The Stories & Letters
    Heinrich von Kleist (1777-1811) and Franz Kafka (1883-1924) are arguably two of the most iconic writers in German language literature. In fact, both the 'Kleistian' style of writing and the `Kafkaesque' as an atmospheric indicator have acquired a proverbial status. Kafka repeatedly paid homage to Kleist as one of his literary ‘models’. This module will focus on Kleist's prose, including some of his letters, comparing his achievement in both genres with that of Kafka and his most important prose. Some of their common themes like justice, guilt, and the obscure will be considered in their respective contexts.

  • Paris in Art
    This module introduces students to the historical, political, social and artistic life of Paris (19th - 21st century), through the study of a range of visual media, including painting, photography, film, posters, bande dessinée, as well as related texts. Topics will include: representations of Paris by artists from Impressionism to Surrealism; International Exhibitions; Paris as spectacle; Paris and revolution (1848, 1968); imagining Paris tomorrow. Students will acquire analytical tools to discuss visual documents in relation to historical and cultural issues.

  • The Opposite of Science. How to analyse poems
    The aim of the module is to introduce students to the art of poetry analysis in a comparative context. To this end, we will work together on a series of poems in a variety of languages, some of which will have been chosen by the module teacher and others by the students. The module will be divided into three three-week blocks, concerned respectively with sound, shape and sense. For each block, students will be required to demonstrate what they have learned either by giving a class presentation or by writing a commentary exercise on a suitable poem of their choice. By the end of the module, then, students will have given one class presentation, which will be worth 10 percent of the final mark, and written two commentary exercises of not more than 1500 words, worth 20 per cent each. These will be due in weeks 4, 8 and 11 respectively.
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