Modern and Contemporary Literature
John Ruskin, 'Aiguilles de Chamonix'
(c. 1850), ©Fitzwilliam Museum
The M.Phil. in Modern and Contemporary Literature is a nine-month course that runs from October to June. This exciting M.Phil. explores the rich array of literature in English from 1830 to the present, and encourages students to pay particular attention to the relationship of literary texts and their historical and intellectual contexts. The course structure is designed to enable flexibility in terms of period and specialism: you can choose to concentrate on nineteenth- or twentieth- and twenty-first-century literature, or take a selection of seminars in both. The flexible framework allows you to build a programme of specialised study in line with your own particular research interests. Guidance on developing your course of study will be given by a designated Faculty member who will also act each term as your dissertation supervisor.
Teaching on this three-term course consists of Core and Optional seminars, a Research Methods course, and a series of one-to-one supervisions. You will write essays in the first two terms, followed by a dissertation on the research topic of your choice. You will also have a wide choice of Graduate Research Seminar series to attend, each of which features speakers from both within the Faculty and from other universities.
The Faculty has over twenty-five members who teach and research in Modern and/or Contemporary literature (see Faculty list below). Their special interests extend into various areas, including aestheticism, nineteenth-century colonialism, Victorian social criticism, modernism, avant-gardes, travel literature, war literature, postmodernism, and postcolonial literature. Many of the Faculty members also contribute to an extensive range of lectures in areas of Modern and Contemporary literature, and these lectures are open to all students in the Faculty. In addition, you will be able to benefit from the exceptional research resources offered by the University Library , one of only five copyright libraries in the UK. Its holdings are supplemented by the English Faculty Library along with the libraries of the University’s various Colleges.
The M.Phil. in Modern and Contemporary Literature may be taken as a free-standing Masters qualification, or as preparation for doctoral study. Under normal circumstances, students will not be permitted to register in the Faculty of English for Ph.D. research in the field of Modern and Contemporary literature unless they have completed this M.Phil. course, or a similar Masters degree at another university, at an appropriate standard.
Dante Gabriel Rossetti, portrait of Christina Rossetti (1866)
Seminar courses run throughout the first two terms, Michaelmas and Lent. You will be able to choose two courses per term in addition to the compulsory Research Methods course.
In Michaelmas Term you are required to choose at least one of the two Core courses, and can take both. If you take one Core course in Michaelmas, you can opt for one of the two designated Modern and Contemporary options (see below), or (under particular circumstances) a shared option from the M.Phil. in Criticism and Culture or the M.Phil. in Eighteenth-Century and Romantic Studies. In Lent Term you will be able to choose two courses from a pool of options that is shared between a number of M.Phils. You will have priority when choosing those options offered to the pool by the Modern and Contemporary M.Phil.
You may also seek special permission from the Convenor of the Modern and Contemporary M.Phil. to substitute in Lent an English Faculty option for one offered in another Faculty.
In addition to the taught seminars, you will be expected to attend at least ten sessions of your choice from any of the following strands of fortnightly Graduate Literary Research Seminars: Twentieth-Century and Contemporary; Nineteenth-Century; Eighteenth-Century and Romantic; Criticism and Culture; Literary Theory. These are relaxed but intellectually vibrant seminars that feature papers from graduates, Faculty staff and invited speakers.
IMPORTANT: the courses detailed below are courses that have run in previous years of the MPhil. We cannot guarantee the provision of specific courses for the coming year.
Michaelmas Term 2015
Both of the Core courses detailed below are designed to provide training in the close-reading of literary style and form with regard to historical and intellectual context.
Core I: Texts and Contexts, 1830-1914
Core 2: Texts and Contexts, 1914 to the ContemporaryM.Phil. students choose two optional courses, each consisting of six ninety-minute seminars, from the pool shared with the American Literature, Criticism and Culture, and 18th Century and Romantic Studies M.Phils. In 2015-16 the Modern and Contemporary M. Phil. plans to offer the following two courses to this pool, for which its students will have priority:
First edition of Virginia Woolf's The Waves (1931)
• Two coursework essays, each of not more than 5, 000 words. One of the essays to be written for one of the chosen Michaelmas Term courses, the other essay written for one of the chosen Lent term courses. The first essay contributes 20% and the second essay 30% to the overall degree mark. In Easter term the teaching will be centred around supervisions for the dissertation. Supervision for each coursework essay consists of a half-hour one-on-one meeting with the leader of the seminar/course for which you are writing your essay. Drafts or outlines of up to 750 words can be submitted in advance of that meeting.