This introductory core module supports students to identify and understand the key themes, debates, and critical approaches currently being explored in contemporary literary studies. It will examine how genres, concepts, and themes transcend particular historical periods and disciplines stretching from the Medieval period to the twenty-first century. Students can develop a critical understanding of literary theory, including the status and practices of the discipline itself.
This module engages with the symbolism of the road in American literature and offers an opportunity to engage with a diversity of forms, from novels and films to popular song. Ranging from the nineteenth century to the twenty-first century, the module will demonstrate the role played by counter-cultures and literary transients in shaping American culture.
This module offers an opportunity to engage with American fiction and some of its socio-historical, political, and ideological contexts from the late 1990s to the present day. An initial concern is to examine critical distinctions between ‘canonical/literary’ texts and so-called ‘popular’ genres. The module explores aspects of canon-formation in American fiction, and examines a selection of texts by both new and established writers, in some cases at the point where they are first published in paperback.
The module will be contextualised by an examination of the ‘Great American Novel’ in the run-up to the millennium, considering the importance of the short story in American fiction, and exploring the impact of recent key events. The module will take a thematic approach, locating American cultural production in regional, national, and global contexts, with a particular emphasis on writing in the 21st Century. Authors studied include Marilynne Robinson, Philip Roth, Anne Tyler, Lionel Shriver, and Cormac McCarthy.
This module explores the representation of haunted locations – of the human experience of environments which provoke, or symbolise, psychological and social disturbances.
Place has always had central significance in the Gothic genre, ‘the literature of nightmare’, which is dominated by desolate landscapes, and claustrophobic interiors. Gothic texts of all periods and cultural contexts use ‘place’ as a trope through which to focalise themes of alienation, repression, monstrosity, and mental fragmentation. These locations work as spatial metaphors, giving form to the fear, violence, and ideological contradictions which haunt the realms which we would prefer to regard as familiar and safe settings for our lives.
This module considers an exciting range of texts (including novels, short stories and films), from the Victorian era to the present day. We consider the way the Gothic genre dramatises anxieties that centre on the home, the city, the railway, the colony/ex-colony, and the frontier. Issues considered through study of these include childhood, gender relations, urbanisation, technology, mental illness, the sublime, constructions of ‘race’, imperialism, and the phenomenon of Gothic tourism with a focus on Lincoln itself.
One of the subjects that literature documents is the relationship of humanity to its environment. This module looks at literary representations of that relationship from an ‘ecocritical’ perspective—that is to say from a criticism that is influenced by environmentalism and ecological thinking.
The first principle of ecological thinking is that there is more to life and the world than humanity, and that we are neither so separate from, nor so dominant over, the non-human as Christian and post-Christian Humanism has taught us to think. The module explores what difference it makes to read literature from this perspective. The course examines literature as part of our complex interaction with our environment, and in some ways and on some occasions, as a uniquely valuable one.
The module offers an introduction to the interaction between environmentalism and literary criticism in the last fifty years and aims to examine the main currents of thought and areas of debate in contemporary ecocriticism. The module will look at texts ancient and contemporary, literary and popular, fictional and factual, including Paradise Lost and Middlemarch, work from the Roman Horace to the Victorian Gerard Manley Hopkins, and from romantics like Wordsworth, Clare and Thoreau, to contemporaries like Rick Bass, JM Coetzee and Iain Sinclair.
Amongst the thinkers and theorists the module examines are Heidegger, Kate Soper, Michel Serres, Peter Singer, Robert Pogue Harrison, and John Gray.
This module is designed to examine the history of the book and print culture over the long nineteenth century, from social, cultural, and economic standpoints.
Questions addressed include: How were Victorian texts written, revised, illustrated, published, printed, distributed, and sold? How did copyright debates over the century affect literary productions? What was the impact of serialisation and the periodical press on both the publishing industry and the reader or consumer? What place did the book-as-object have within Victorian material culture? How do Victorian texts themselves depict reading, writing, and the book? How does reading texts alongside images qualify reading and interpretation?
The module considers a range of printed materials, including but not limited to books, periodicals, newspapers, illustrations, and printed ephemera. It provides opportunities to use the extensive and unique resources of the Tennyson Research Centre, conservation labs, and online resources such as Victorian periodical facsimiles. Students are also expected to read a novel in serialised form in a periodical, discussing one or two ‘numbers’ each week, to recapture and explore the experience of reading serially.
This module aims to explore some of the poetic and artistic riches of the era 1800 to 1870, in relation to political, social, and artistic contexts. Romanticism established terms for exploring the self, representing nature, extolling feeling and imagination, and using poetry in the cause of social reform.
This legacy Victorian writers inherited, revised, and tested to its limits. Poets both withdrew from, and engaged with, society, offering new constructions of class relations, gender roles, and religious faith, and debated the role of the poet in a modern society. While the emphasis of the module is on literature, it will also consider elements of art history which shared these preoccupations. Artists also reimagined the landscape, social relations, subjective/objective reality, and the role of the artist in the modern world.
Works of well-known poets such as William Wordsworth, Robert Browning, and Elizabeth Barrett Browning are read alongside those with a less established critical tradition, such as John Clare, Ernest Jones, and Augusta Webster. We also consider landscape artists such as Peter de Wint and John Constable, and the works of pre-Raphaelite artists responding to poetry by John Keats and Alfred Tennyson. Trips are offered to the Usher Gallery in Lincoln, the Clare Centre at Helpston, and/or a relevant national exhibition.
In the nineteenth century, the novel reached maturity as a form and, arguably, its zenith. This module addresses some of the riches of fiction of this era in which we encounter the roots of our own modernity. Writers turned to the novel to explore pressing social and philosophical concerns in the wake of radical cultural change and a newly empowered bourgeoisie.
Whether they present panoramas of community or focus on the trials and triumphs of a single protagonist, nineteenth-century novels explore the pains and pleasures of the individual attempting to find belonging in an often alienating environment.
While realism is the dominant mode, other generic influences include Gothic, naturalism, expressionism, and satire, and texts include historical fictions as well as those set in the contemporaneous moment. The module takes an international approach, including examples from North America as well as British classics, and potentially works (in translation) from non-anglophone settings including Russia, France, and Scandinavia.
The woman writer achieved a new prominence during the nineteenth century and played a central role in the literary culture of the period. Across a diverse range of genres and forms, writers explored contemporary debates regarding conceptions of gender, women’s role in public life, and models of female authorship.
Beginning with the radical writers of the 1790s, this modules aims to consider women’s interventions in contemporary political argument, poetry and historical writing, and their exploitation of a language of feeling to claim a distinctive voice in the public sphere. A selection of Victorian women poets are explored, with a focus on their representation of the conflict between inner and outer life.
This module aims to explore some of the extraordinarily exciting, diverse and abundant range of short stories, novels, life writing, drama, performance and poetry produced by women in the 21st Century.
The module begins firstly with the consideration of the contemporary revival of feminist theory and politics and attempt to think through the variety of ways in which feminism is meaningful in a post-millennial context. Secondly, the module will attempt to trace and examine ways in which women writers engage with and represent the 21st Century, and specifically their negotiation of personal identity, motherhood, ageing, sex and sexuality, as well as local/ global politics, war, race, class, religion, region and nation. Thirdly, you can study ways in which contemporary women’s writing utilises, negotiates and challenges traditions of literary and dramatic form to find new and radical ways of writing the 21st Century.
In this module you have the opportunity to identify key features and characteristics of the literary utopia and trace the development of the genre from More's Utopia to the trio of late 19th Century classic utopias, Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward, William Morris’s News from Nowhere and HG Wells’s A Modern Utopia through to the 20th and 21st Centuries.
The module considers the classic dystopias of the early 20th Century and the re-emergence of the utopian novel in the form of the ‘critical utopia’. 21st century utopias and dystopias form a focus for thinking about the significance of utopia and utopian writing today. Plays will be considered as stage utopias/dystopias, and the question of utopia and form will be scrutinised.