3 years full-time (minor subject)
|Course type:||Combined honours|
A minimum of 280 UCAS points including grades CC or above at A2 level, BTEC National Diploma with an overall grade of Distinction Merit Merit, or an Access Diploma with a minimum of 39 credits with Merit or Distinction. If you have a relevant HND or foundation degree qualification you may progress onto the final year of the degree. You will also need five GCSEs at grade C or above, including GCSE English Language, or a recognised equivalent. For alternative qualifications please see our entry requirements page.
Contact for admissions enquiriesAdmissions
Tel: 0121 476 1181 (Ext. 2386)
Contact for course content enquiriesDr Matthew Day (Interim Associate Dean (Student Experience & Curriculum) of the School of Human Sciences)
Tel: 0121 476 1181 (Ext. 2545)
Why study English Literature?
This minor course in English Literature offers you the opportunity to engage with stories that inform, entertain, shock and excite, stories told through the various media of words, sound and image. Studying English Literature allows you to broaden your understanding of history, culture and identities in ways that are personally and socially enriching as well as intellectually stimulating.
What does the course cover?
During the first year you will be asked to question your very approach towards the act of reading itself. You will be introduced to the works of many of the greatest English writers and encouraged to think about your personal responses at the same time as developing your understanding of relevant theoretical perspectives.
Years Two and Three offer you a great deal of choice enabling you to broaden the horizons of your course to take in works across the centuries, other genres and media other than the written word. You can choose to study classic texts of the past, which may include the plays of Shakespeare, the poetry of the Romantics and the novels of the Victorian Realists. You may prefer contemporary literature, concentrating on Drama, the Novel or both. Perhaps you will want to explore areas including Critical Approaches, Cultural Identity or Children’s Literature.
How will I be assessed?
This English Literature Minor uses a variety of assessment strategies designed to help you develop a wide range of analytical and reflective skills. These include essays, examinations and presentations.
What is noteworthy about this course?
Opportunities to study in such areas as Film and Children’s Literature broaden your experiences beyond the scope of the more traditional understanding of English Literature. The course is taught by experienced and enthusiastic tutors who share a love of literature and reading it in all its different forms. You will be introduced to a range of
texts in a variety of modes - including the written form, pictures and moving images. The opportunity for discussion and exploration is integral to the course.
What careers could I consider?
Following this Minor may help graduates who wish to pursue careers in the media and publishing, arts administration and librarianship.
"It is pleasing to note that the students have the opportunity to explore a very wide range of literature in the various modules…I can confirm that my impression is that teaching standards are high."
Courses at Newman are constantly evolving to reflect changes in the field of study. Therefore, modules listed here are indicative and may be subject to change for each academic year. Some modules are mandatory and some are optional. Not all modules will be available on all routes through the programme you choose, and modules studied will depend on whether you choose minor, joint, major or single honours routes.
2 English modules
Introduction to Literary Studies (mandatory)
This module provides an introduction to the study of literature through the study of short stories. It provides a bridge from the students previous study of literature to a more undergraduate level of study which is typified by an understanding of the constructed nature of literary texts which have a specific moment of production and changing receptions through time. It also encourages students to move away from the question ‘What does this text mean’ to an appreciation of the diversity of valid meanings that can arise from any one text through the application of different methods and theories. Instruction is provided in some of the skills and working methods necessary for success in the study of English at undergraduate level and the opportunity to practice these skills is provided through formative assessment.
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Approaches to Poetry
Students will read a range of poetry beginning, historically, with Chaucer, and ending with contemporary verse. Poetry will be selected in a range of styles and will include American and other poetry in English as well as poetry from the British Isles. Students will learn about scansion, including marking stress patterns, counting syllables, and analysing stanza form. This will give students confidence in reading and thinking about poetry: familiarity with the terminology will allow them to arrive at a fuller understanding of the poems. The Norton Anthology of Poetry is the only set text for this module, from which poetry of all the required styles and periods will be selected.
Merely Players?: Introduction to Drama
Students will gain an overview of the development of western drama tracing its development from Greek forms through to contemporary drama. Drama will be selected in a range of styles, moods and forms and will include early Greek drama, British medieval and renaissance texts, European drama in translation, and contemporary texts. American drama may also be included. Students will learn about different genres such as comedy, tragedy and history as well as hybrid forms. They will also gain insights into different theories of drama ranging from Aristotelian analysis through nineteenth century realist drama to Brechtian concepts of epic theatre. Students will gain insights into approaches to drama and gain confidence in their analysis of such features as characterization, plot development and staging.
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‘Ambition, Blood or Lust’: - Early Modern Literature
Students will be introduced to a range of early modern texts including prose poetry and drama across the module. It is intended to introduce students to the variety and richness of early modern literature. In doing so it focuses on three themes but students will not be restricted to these in their studies. Students will gain insights into a range of early modern concerns such as notions of power, personal ambition, social aspirations, desire, death, murder, lust and sexuality. They will examine the way a range of early modern texts explore these issues. Students will both contextualise early modern writing within its own period and learn to apply relevant theoretical and critical approaches (such as feminist, gender studies, new historicist and cultural materialist) to such texts. Students will also learn to work autonomously, developing research skills.
The introductory sessions will provide an historical overview of the development of various critical perspectives. Students will consider the functions of literary criticism and discuss the notion of interpretive authority including the New Critical concept of the autonomous text. Throughout the module, students will explore the interrelationship between particular critical practices and the social, cultural and historic contexts within which both literary and critical discourses are produced and received. The module will focus on the following specific approaches: feminist theory, psychoanalytic criticism, structuralism, post-structuralism, postcolonial theory, Marxist literary theory and postmodernism. Students will have the opportunity to study a range of primary and secondary sources.
From Reason to Vision: The Long 18th Century
The eighteenth century covers a vast range of English literature. Rather than attempt an historical or chronological overview, the module offers students the opportunity to actively engage with selected texts which may be challenging and different. Hence concerns about gendered authorship, the place of the reader, the relationship of word and picture, the enduring quality of myth are addressed through the study of selected texts and illustrations.
As an enquiry based module, Victorian literature is particularly student centred. Students will form themselves into groups to explore a particular aspect of literature from the nineteenth century which particularly interests them. This could be the gothic, representations of ‘madness’ and pathology, psychology in literature, female submission and independence, education, city life, the countryside or other themes which run through the literature of the period. Indicative writers include Gerald Manley Hopkins, Christina Rossetti, Elizabeth Gaskell, Emily Bronte, Charlotte Bronte, Charles Dickens and George Eliot. There will be a few initial lectures on the cultural background to Victorian literature, and the place of different writers in this context, and students will also engage in seminar explorations of selected poems and passages from novels. The second half of the module will be tutorial based and students will work in groups to produce a pamphlet study of their chosen texts and authors. Individual marks will be awarded as students work on their own contributing chapters, with some marks allocated according to the success of the group effort and the pamphlet as a whole.
Early Twentieth Century Literature
The module will engage students in a socio-historical and politically situated study of a number of 20th century texts pre-World War II. They will examine developments in literary form during this period and the relationship of these emerging forms with the cultural context in which texts were produced and received. The following indicates a typical scheme for the delivery of the content:
• General introduction to the module, consolidating prior student knowledge of the social mission of English, the social realist tradition and what readers and writers of the C19th and C20th have expected literature to be and to do.
• The development of a ‘Cultural studies’ approach to studying literature, its methodology and implications for text analysis.
• Introduction to the distinctive features of Modernism and its break with traditional literary forms, styles and concepts in order to express the post war crisis of faith in Western civilization and the literary modes which had traditionally been employed to represent Western culture.
A close critical analysis of the social, cultural and historical circumstances which have produced particular texts will also be carried out. The module will consider the issues highlighted at a time of significant social change. The specific texts studied will vary from year to year but may include, Howards End in relation to the end of the Edwardian era and the literary social realism which immediately preceded Modernism and The Love Song of Alfred J Prufrock, To the Lighthouse and Dubliners as examples of Modernist texts.
This enquiry-based learning module will provide students with the opportunity to explore the literary heritage of the city of Birmingham and its environs. They will also be encouraged to engage with and reflect on the contemporary literary life of this multicultural city. The module has a strong interdisciplinary element, and students will explore connections between the study of literature and other disciplines. Focal points for the students’ study will largely be determined by their own interests, although guidance will be given in specially designed resource packs. In following up their projects, students will make use of virtual resources such as Digital Midlands and the West Midlands Literary Heritage website, as well as ‘physical’ resource centres such as Birmingham’s Music and Arts Centre and the Birmingham Authors’ Collection at Birmingham Central Library. Project outcomes may vary. Possible outcomes might include: a tourist pod-cast linking art pieces in the Art Gallery to literary extracts; a hypothetical proposal for a Birmingham-based Literary Festival; a publicity piece advertising Birmingham theatre groups and productions; a sculpture / literature town trail; or plans for an exhibition (including chosen texts) on Multicultural Literary Birmingham. More 'traditional' author / theme based essays are also a possible outcome. Teaching and learning strategies will involve the use of e-learning resources such as podcasts, vodcasts, wikis and online project group forums. Special features of the module will be a city-based Literary Heritage Tour (when possible) and visiting local writers.
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American Literature and Film
This module will start by considering how Huckleberry Finn has informed twentieth century literature and film. There will be an exploration of how mythic conceptions of America relating to the Western frontier have been employed by writers and film makers to both sanction and challenge the dominant ideology of the ‘American Dream’. It will examine the rise of Hollywood and, the ways in which Hollywood productions have reinforced this myth of the American Dream and the challenge of independent films to dominant ideology. The module will particularly examine texts which reflect upon American foreign and domestic policy of the Cold War and Vietnam periods and Postmodern America. Close critical analysis of literature and film will be supported by readings on cultural history and students will be encouraged to draw comparisons between the treatment of American identity in ‘related’ texts. Examples may include: representations of New York in the 1920s in The Great Gatsby and Ragtime, conceptions of the ‘frontier’ in Huckleberry Finn and mainstream Western films, responses to Vietnam in the novels of Bobby Ann Mason and allegorical Mexico Westerns of the 1960s, discussions of gendered space in The Bell Jar, The Tracy Fragments and In the Cut, the employment of science fiction in Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Night of the Living Dead, and Bladerunner to reflect cultural anxieties at different points in history, the features of Postmodern novels and the films of Quentin Tarantino, and the politicisation of black female experience in The Bluest Eye and The Color Purple. There will be a mixture of lectures, seminars, presentations, work shops and tutorials. Students will write a final essay, combining a discussion of texts taught on the module with their individually chosen literary texts and /or films.
In the first half of the module, students will address the question, ‘What is Children’s Literature?’ before studying a range of texts from a selection of genres. These will include picture books, fairy stories and traditional stories, stories from other cultures, classics, social realism and poetry. The different stylistic features will be considered in relation to reaching judgements about literary qualities and suitability for child readers. In the second half of the module, students will consider how it is possible for an adult writer to communicate effectively with the child reader. This work will include a consideration of how texts manage to retain their popularity with succeeding generations and will link with discussions on the nature and construction of childhood in different historical contexts.
This module draws together a selection of contemporary plays and aims to demonstrate the diversity of contemporary drama and to apply contemporary critical thinking about drama to the texts. The module includes works by a number of British playwrights as well as American writers and collectives. Analysing the plays will offer students the opportunity to consider the function of the play both on stage and as a text: contemporary drama often experiments with form, sometimes to the extent that boundaries are blurred between literary forms, and the possibilities for more experimental stage delivery are set up by those textual properties. Though this is a text-based module rather than a study of performance, theoretical issues related to stage performance will be examined. The plays discussed on the module will be considered in relation to the playwright's voice; politics and gender; health and sickness; societal conformity and non-conformity; glamour and squalor. Students will consider ways in which these thematic aspects reflect society, as well as considering ways in which they may be performed.
Literature and Identity
The module will use aspects of postcolonial theory relating to identity to explore a range of fiction texts; these texts will focus on those by contemporary British writers and by contemporary writers from countries which are former (or current) British colonies. For contextualisation purposes, there will be brief consideration of a few pre-20th century texts. Some consideration will be given to identity theories which have been developed in other academic fields (such as sociology and psychology) which have links to postcolonial theories positions on the problematic nature of coherent identity formation. The exploration of identity might encompass a variety of specific cultural, social and political issues such as religion, gender, class, ethnicity and political standpoints.
Texts and Translations
The module will engage with a range of aspects of translation of relevance to literary studies, including:
• The history of translation in theory and practice
• Contemporary translation practices, technologies and tools
• Theories of translation
• An analysis of differences between Comparative literature and translation studies
• An analysis of the differences between theories of adaptation and translation
• Analogues between Literary Theories and translation, including an analysis of intralingual translations (or literary retellings) through literary theories (including feminist, Marxist and postcolonial retellings, and poststructuralism and deconstruction as exemplified through literary retellings), and through an engagement with prominent theorists and their discussions of translation.
• An analysis of the figure of the translator both as presented through translation studies and as a literary protagonist.
There is an emphasis on the impact of translation for literary studies, which will enable students to demonstrate skills in literary analysis developed earlier in the programme, and to apply a new theoretical field – translation studies – to literary texts. Thus, the module will apply ideas about the practice, process, and product of translation to literary texts (rather than, for example, historical texts, information texts such as instruction manuals, or legal translation and interpretation, though of course translation takes place in fields such as these and many others, and some of the translation theories and technologies that we will be discussing will also be used outside the context of translating literary texts). Students will be expected to discuss literary texts in their assignment, alongside literary and translation theories, and translation practices and tools. For example, students might write about the translator figure as literary protagonist; they might discuss translation of texts between genres or forms; or they might compare two novels, one of which may be said to be a retelling (or translation) of the other. Examples of this kind of retelling include either Jack Maggs by Peter Carey or Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones in comparison with the ‘original’, Great Expectations by Charles Dickens; Foe by JM Coetzee and the ‘original’ Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe; Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea and Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre.
The Contemporary Novel
Module description coming soon…
"My degree course is Education Studies with English Literature. I chose to do English Literature as my minor because I enjoyed studying books and analysing the different perspectives there can be on just one piece of literature. At the moment in my third year I am studying the book ‘Color Purple’ and investigating black feminism. I have really got into the module and gained further knowledge of Afro-American feminism. Newman University College is small however the atmosphere among students and lectures is a positive one. Lecturers are always there to help us and make sure we get the best out of our university experience."
English Literature student