The Scene of Writing This module aims to acquaint students with a varied corpus of fictional and theoretical writings around the theme of the author. There are two main aims: to explore the ways in which authorship is thematized and represented in literature, film and the visual arts, and to examine changes in the ways authors have been perceived in critical and theoretical writings about literature and cinema.
Comparative Modernisms: The Case of China and India 'Make it new!' Ezra Pound famously urged, coining a slogan for the literary movement of Modernism. As Western writers attempted to remake literature in the early 20th century, many turned East, to Asia, for innovation. At the same time, Asian writers also sought literary newness as they navigated changing socio-political tides. This module introduces Modernism as a comparative transnational movement, exploring imaginations of "China" and "India" in Euro-American texts alongside major Chinese and Indian works. Students will gain an understanding of Modernism, 20th century Chinese and Indian literatures, and theories of cross-cultural comparison and world literature.
Constellations: Online Anthology Group Project Working in groups, students will design and build an online anthology on a theme (or other organisational principle) of their choosing. Students will analyse existing anthologies in both academic and commercial contexts, and receive necessary IT training before going on to create their own anthology. This will include an introduction, a series of extracts in a range of media and commentaries on those extracts.
German Thought II: Political Thought in the Twentieth Century This module will investigate some of the major developments and tendencies in twentieth-century German thought, paying particular attention to political thought and its relation to twentieth century German history and cultural production. Key subjects studied may include a selection of the following: German-Jewish thought and Zionism, Critical Theory and the Frankfurt School, Phenomenology, Philosophical Anthropology, Constitutional Theory. Texts will be studied in translation.
Migrant Words: Language Communities Translating Latinx Culture in the US Through a range of genres, we will think critically about Latinxs and the cultural production of this fastest-growing demographic group in the US. We will do so at the intersection of multiple fields (including Latinx, Hispanic, American, ethnic studies; comparative literature; translation, multilingualism, and migration studies), taking into account intersectionality in terms of language-based identities, race, ethnicity, class, gender, and sexuality when constructing subjectivities in light of power relations and global cultural hegemonies. No prior knowledge of Spanish is needed.
Migration in Contemporary European Literature and Film This module examines contemporary works of literature and film revolving around the topics of migration and transcultural experiences. It is designed to familiarize students with some key themes and concepts in the field, such as displacement and diaspora, memory and belonging, language and identity, cultural hybridity and third space. By exploring texts and films originally produced in English, French and German, it will take a comparative stance, considering the differences and similarities between the migration experiences - and their artistic manifestations - in different western European countries.
On the Subject of Sex: Queen to Queer Queer offers exciting, challenging and virulently contested new ways of understanding sex, gender and sexuality. In this module we shall examine the phenomenon in its historical context, exploring in particular its relationship with gay and lesbian studies, feminism, and postmodernism, and tracing its influence in and through various cultural artefacts. We shall also be engaging with core texts of queer theory and seeking to apply its tenets to contemporary culture.
Photography the Self and its Image This module examines how photographic images and processes are used to understand and give accounts of the self. Focusing on experimental self-narratives and specific image types (e.g. self-portraits, family photography, art photography, phototexts), it considers the shifting meanings of photography as a tool of self-knowledge. It explores tensions between self-documentary and self-invention, and the ways in which these tensions are inflected as photographic technologies change. Students will be introduced to key theories and concepts for the analysis of photography in self-narrative and to practitioners from a range of cultural backgrounds.
Proust Proust is one of the major European novelists of the last century, whose work In Search of Lost Time has been a constant inspiration to readers, other writers, and thinkers about literature. The module will concentrate on the first volume (The Way by Swann's) and the last (Finding Time Again), initially offering a general presentation of these main subdivisions and considering a number of major themes and patterns that recur from one volume to another, such as love, desire, and sexuality; history; and social structures.
Representations of Consciousness in Modern British and American Literature The module examines the legacy of the modernist thematic concern with interiority and subjectivity, and specifically with the literary presentation and representation of consciousness in post-war British and American literature. It begins by looking at two short, monologic plays by Samuel Beckett, Krapp's Last Tape (1958), and Not I (1973), and considers how B.S. Johnson's experimental novel The Unfortunates (1969) and James Kelman's short story Not Not While the Giro (1983), are continuations of, and departures from, Beckett's literary representation of self, consciousness and memory. The module also discusses the philosophical influences on this body of literature, and the influence of Jean-Paul Sartre's existentialism in particular, and considers how a strand of late twentieth-century American fiction shares the concern with the representation of consciousness evinced by Beckett, Johnson and Kelman. It contrasts these writers' focus on memory and consciousness, with the postmodernist preoccupation with solipsism, apparent in two short stories, Lydia Davis' Break It Down (1986) and David Foster Wallace's Good Old Neon (2004), and in David Markson's novel Wittgenstein's Mistress (1988). Students will attend a weekly lecture and seminar; in addition, there will be screenings of alternative versions of the two plays by Samuel Beckett.
Schools for Scandal: Sexual Fictions from Venus in the Cloister to Venus in Furs This module explores a range of erotic, libertine and pornographic texts from the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries. It includes so-called 'whore dialogues' (Venus in the Cloister), best-selling novels (Fanny Hill, and Thérèse philosophe), and some well-known works by the Marquis de Sade, and Sacher-Masoch. It will examine the ways in which sex, gender, and sexuality are represented within these and other texts from the period, and explore past and present constructions of pornography and literature. Warning: this module contains sexually explicit material.
Sotsgorod: Cities in Russia and Eastern Europe During the 20th and 21st centuries, Russian and Eastern European cities have been characterized by radical upheavals and reconfigurations: most dramatically, by wartime annihilations of human beings and built fabrics; and most lastingly, by the attempt to build and to unbuild something known as the 'socialist city'. This module will explore the urban experience of Eastern Europe through the prism of socialism and post-socialism.
Surrealism This interdisciplinary module focuses on the art, literature, politics and theory of Dada and Surrealism. Students will study surrealist painting (Dali, Magritte, Kahlo), collage (Ernst), photography (Man Ray, Cahun), film (Dalí and Buñuel, Artaud, Dulac), poetry (Desnos, Eluard), and politics (Breton). Topics to be studied include: art and psychoanalysis, art and politics, art and revolution, gender identity, and representation.
The Mexican Revolution and its Aftermath This course examines the historical background to the Revolution and the profound impact that this first major revolution of the twentieth century (1910-1917) had on the society and culture of modern Mexico. It focuses on the ways in which Mexican artists, writers and intellectuals responded to and engaged with the processes the revolution unchained. The course will look at Mexican Muralism and the writings of authors such as José Vasconcelos, Octavio Paz, Juan Rulfo, Elena Poniatowska and Carlos Fuentes.
Comparative Literature Research Project This module is designed to enable suitably qualified final-year students to pursue a sustained piece of individual or group research on an agreed topic which may not necessarily be covered in the taught modules. Introductory group sessions on research methods will be followed by individual supervision.