Stuff: Victorian Literature and Material Culture
Victorian modernity was defined by production and consumption. Objects were made, sold, bought, stolen, given, lost and found on an unprecedented scale. The Victorian period and its literature were stuffed full of things. For some, this proliferation of stuff signified progress, wealth and civilization. Others were less confident, or even critical, about this new materiality. Focusing on the years immediately after the Great Exhibition, this module examines how objects were represented in literature and how literature itself became an object of consumption.
This module takes one literary text ¿ Charles Dickens¿ novel Our Mutual Friend (1865)¿ and studies it from a range of thematic and theoretical perspectives. The novel will be read alongside philosophical and theoretical writing that investigates the fluctuating and unsettled relationship between materiality and subjectivity. The module takes an object-centred approach which shifts emphasis away from the subject as unique generator of literary meaning. In so doing it engages with the recent `material¿ turn in Victorian studies.
Monsters, Theories, Transformations
Literary works open up different meanings depending on the questions we ask them and the assumptions we bring to them. Literary meaning is in continual transformation. This module examines some of the ways in which this occurs through critical reading and intertextual revision. The first half of the module looks at two works, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and Bram Stoker's Dracula, that have been plurally interpreted by critics; the second half of the module considers the transformation of narrative and ideology in the 'intertextual' revision of Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre by Jean Rhys's Wide Sargasso Sea. The course looks at how meaning in literature is transformed and how it transforms the ways in which we see the world.
This is a skills-based module which will equip students with the technical and critical expertise that is necessary for their academic journey in English Literature and Creative Writing. It is designed to support the transition from post-16 study to undergraduate study and to show students *how* to become successful scholars of English. How should we read texts? How do we write essays? Focusing on an exciting anthology of texts selected by the English academics at Swansea, this team-taught module uncovers the power of written language. We will explore how writers inspire and challenge their readers, how to think critically, how to close-read, how to construct powerful arguments and how to produce written work that is rigorous, academic and convincing. This module empowers students to think, write, and persuade.
Dissertation - English Literature
The Dissertation is an optional, two-semester, 40-credit module designed to develop high-level academic skills and intellectual independence in the students. A first-semester skills-building programme will include: research skills, summary skills, bibliographic skills, ability to synthesise succinctly, planning and organisational skills, correct presentation of a thesis and bibliography, presentational skills and public speaking. Students conduct research on a subject of their choice, devised in consultation with a member of the English literature staff. The topic will be devised to fall within staff research and teaching specialisms, broadly defined. Students attend group sessions on research skills in Semesters 1 and 2, and have individual meetings with supervisors in Semester 2.
The Swansea University International Dylan Thomas Prize Module
This module examines the hyper-contemporary literature longlisted on The Swansea University International Dylan Thomas Prize. Each week will be devoted to examining a different aspect of the shortlisting process, as well as exploring the 12 longlisted books--all of which will have been published in the previous year. In this module, students will have access to literary agents, publishers, marketers, and prize judges, all the while reading and critiquing brand new literature. These texts have not been read on a literature degree before, and this course changes year on year. It is an exciting module that differs with each cohort, and is driven by the books students like to read.
Nineteenth-Century Literature and the Environmental Imagination
Mountains, oceans, polar regions, cities, forests, heaths, and deserts are some of the many locations that inspired nineteenth-century writers. Over the course of 11 weeks we will explore the emergence of what can be called the `environmental imagination¿. We will reflect on the significance of this literary mode in the historical context of industrialisation and urbanisation, forces that played a defining role in the formation of the Anthropocene, the epoch that defines humanity¿s catastrophic impact on the earth¿s ecosystem. Students will have the opportunity to study Romantic poetry, children¿s literature, realist literature, the Condition of England novel, travel writing, science fiction, and nature writing. Connections between empire, exploration and exploitation will be tracked across this range of literature, and theories of gender, ecology, and race, for example, will inform how to productively interpret these nineteenth-century texts.