The following units will be studied over three semesters for the one year full-time option, or over four semesters spread over two years for the part-time option.
Cultures and Materialities
This unit introduces students used to working with contemporary collaborative media to the historical differences and the continuities in literature’s production, storage and display. From the pre-Gutenberg era to the late age of (digitalised) print, this course will study literary cultural production as an embedded part of a broad cultural and media history.
Markets and Audiences
This unit will adopt a sociological approach to the study of the cultural industries and their audiences. It will examine the marketing and promotion of cultural texts, and will consider how paratexts and extratextual materials contribute to the audience’s expectations and experiences, in addition to reflecting cultural and political differences. The unit will explore the commercial imperatives shaping the contemporary cultural marketplace, focusing on high profile awards, the branding of authors, the distribution strategies of media corporations and how the leisure and tourist industries engage with or exploit cultural texts.
This unit aims to investigate and understand the development and nature of the art of storytelling in the context of digital-interactive media. Storytelling has always been affected by its media and digital media is no exception. Interactivity in storytelling, although less of a feature historically (though not an absent one), is increasingly witnessed with the opportunities of digital technology. Beginning with a brief pre-history, this course will come to grips with contemporary particularities thrown up at the intersection between digitalisation and interactivity; solutions to which are now attracting attention in industries such as publishing and public and critical attention, via events such as the world’s first New Media Writing Prize. This unit will provide a rigorous scholarly framework for students’ existing digital literacy and give space for both reflection upon and improvement in their competence with interactive digital media.
Literature and Controversy
This unit critically explores a number of literary and cultural controversies in the English-speaking world. Differing definitions of such concepts as free speech, freedom of expression, censorship and public interest are explored in the context of a number of different public cultural controversies. For example, D.H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover might be studied critically as a literary text, while the student also studies the historical context of attempts to censor and suppress the novel, and critical debates over that suppression in the print and broadcast media.
Mediating the Nation
This unit examines the relationship between cultural production and a series of changing historical and political contexts in contemporary Britain. More specifically, it enables students to consider cultural constructions of Britain, Britons and Britishness. A wide range of literary and cultural forms will be analysed to explore how these things have been constructed and legitimised through culture historically. It will also draw attention to how two major historical developments have had a significant impact on how Britishness has been culturally constructed: the transition away from the period of imperialism; and the development of political devolution across the United Kingdom.
‘Narrating Identities’ gives students an opportunity to study a number of genres that can loosely be categorised as life writing. Critical approaches to biography, autobiography, autobiographical fiction and film biopic will be analysed in a theoretical framework that will help students to generate the critical vocabulary and cultural literacy necessary to perform detailed critical analysis. The unit will invite students to engage in a critical interrogation of how identity has been and continues to be narrated and constructed across a range of different literary media, relating changing generic definitions and stylistic innovations to the wider cultural and historical trends of which they are a part. Mainstream texts will be studied alongside texts from new media and texts produced from different marginal or peripheral subject positions in order to explore such notions as cultural identity, dominant ideology and emerging or oppositional cultural narratives.
Dissertation (academic) OR Major Project (creative)
The dissertation or major project aims to provide students with the opportunity to develop and demonstrate their critical, analytical and research skills by undertaking a significant piece of academic or creative work. With this unit, students will culminate their studies, and will work with a degree of independence not previously experienced in university coursework. Their choice is not bound to any specific unit within the Master’s programme, and thus encourages students to focus on topics they find most inspiring. In bringing together the skills, knowledge, and critical insight they have developed during the programme, students will use this unit not only to discover and hone their individual strengths but, through discovery, establish lines of inquiry that they may take with them into future careers.