Master of Arts
The newly designed Contemporary Writing pathway offers you the opportunity to engage with American, British, Irish, and world Anglophone literary cultures. The pathway brings together a variety of genres and critical approaches to contemporary literature, such that you will have the chance to explore fiction, poetry, and life writing, as well as debates in cultural theory and philosophy about the very nature and periodization of contemporaneity.
We are home to one of the largest and most diverse groups of staff in this field of any department in the country, and expertise in late-twentieth- and twenty-first-century culture brings together perspectives that are regional and transnational, theoretical and historicist. Distinctively, the pathway will also give you the opportunity of working with our leading postcolonial scholars, and to think about contemporary cultural production in global contexts of reception.
A range of option modules will enable you to study major novelists and poets from national literary traditions within and beyond an Anglo-American frame. The core module, ‘Writing and the Present’, equips you with a set of critical vocabularies with which to engage historically, formally, and philosophically with contemporary literature. The core syllabi will allow you to explore contemporary writing in relation to broader contentions about the present, including the problems of periodicity along with the current state and function of criticism. One of the key aims of the core module is to establish a context of non-fictional writing, philosophy, and social theory that will help you to characterize the contemporary epoch. Special attention will be devoted to issues of technology, innovation and social change that bring into question the category of ‘writing’ itself, its role in theoretical debates, its place in contemporary philosophy, and its transformations in the context of digital culture.
The pathway as whole thus facilitates a twin focus on the notions of writing and the present, encouraging you to examine the most urgent intellectual issues of our time that relate to the notion of ‘the contemporary’, not only in academic contexts but also in lived social experience.
On this pathway you will:
Explore the evolving intellectual and political contexts for the study of contemporary literature and culture
Examine contemporary debates in literary theory and cultural studies about the changing nature of writing
Gain more understanding of how technology, new media forms, and the emergence of digital culture have informed contemporary modes of literary production and reception
Be taught by leading experts in the field, including Professor Mark Currie, Professor Bill Schwarz, and Professor Peggy Reynolds
Acquire critical vocabularies for thinking about time, epochal temporality and questions of periodization that are particular to the arts and literature of the present
Develop new skills in argumentation, analysis, and independent inquiry.