MA (Res) Modern and Contemporary Writing

Sculpture in BerlinThis degree explores in depth some of the key ideas, practices, and canonical structures of literature in English from 1890 to the present. It allows for extended research into established figures from Samuel Beckett to Jamaica Kincaid, and into emergent areas such as the literatures of diaspora. It also has options that enable students to focus substantially on creative writing, and to include a creative writing portfolio as a part of their final dissertation.

On the MA in Modern and Contemporary Writing, you will have the opportunity to investigate a wide range of issues, such as theoretical and conceptual debates over "modernity"; the defining characteristics of Modernism; the material history of the book in the period; the history and practice of reviewing; writing in relation to nationhood, gender, and postcoloniality; contemporary creativity and the "life of writing." Students will develop their ability to question and to think critically about modern literature, and about the terms and the contexts that have been used to explain and evaluate modern and contemporary literature. The degree also aims to equip students for advanced literary research: working with such unique and important resources as the Beckett Archive, and the Authors' Papers, and the Records of British Publishing and Printing, the MA will introduce students to methods of research with regard to bibliography, manuscripts, databases, and editing. This MA is, then, an excellent grounding for PhD work, or to enable students to reflect upon and develop their creative practice.

In the spring term, you will choose two options from:

 We cannot guarantee that all modules will be available in any given year; availability will be determined to some extent by student choice. If you have a strong, longer-term research interest in a topic that is not available as a taught course in your year of study, you may be able to take the option as a "guided study" module.

The final element of the MA is the Dissertation module. At the start of the summer term, and in consultation with the programme director, you will be assigned a dissertation supervisor. Your supervisor will guide you in researching and framing your dissertation project.

Part-time students are also strongly encouraged to apply for this MA. On the part-time schedule, you will take Modern English Studies in your first term, and Materiality and Textuality in your third term. You will take specialised options in your second and fourth terms.

Teachers on this MA

Nicola Bradbury has published on a wide range of British and American topics of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. She was for many years editor of The Yearbook of English Studies, and is author of Henry James: The Later Novels (1979). Nicola contributes to the nineteenth century options, and also to Representing the Modern City.

David Brauner specialises in post-War English and American fiction, and he has a particular interest in the work of Philip Roth. His publications include Post-War Jewish Fiction (Palgrave, 2001), and he teaches the option on Contemporary American Fiction.

Bryan Cheyette works on twentieth-century topics, with a special emphasis on configurations of "the Jew," "race," and modernity. His book, Diasporas of the Mind, is forthcoming from Yale University Press in 2008, and he offers the option, Diasporas of the Mind.

Alison Donnell's main research interest is postcolonial writing and theory. She is a founding editor of the journal, Interventions, and her book, Twentieth Century Caribbean Literature: Critical Moments in Anglophone Literature and Critical History, was published by Routledge in 2006. Alison offers the option on Caribbean Narratives.

Andrew Nash is an expert on Scottish literature and on publishing history. Among his many projects, he is currently working on Volume VI of The Cambridge history of the Book in Britain. Andrew teaches on the Materiality and Textuality module as well as the option Configurations of Scottish Literature.

Mark Nixon is a specialist in modern European literature, with a particular emphasis on Beckett. He is the Director of the Beckett International Foundation. Mark convenes the Beckett option and the Materiality and Textuality module.

Peter Robinson is an acclaimed poet who has also published several books on modern poetry. His most recent critical study, Twentieth Century Poetry: Selves and Situations, was published by Oxford University Press in 2005. Peter offers the module on Contemporary Poetry.

Peter Stoneley works on the literature and culture of the United States. He has written books on Mark Twain and on women's fiction, while his most recent project, A Queer History of the Ballet, was published by Routledge in 2007. Peter teaches on Representing the Modern City.

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  • Studying at Reading
  • Research at the University
  • Life at Reading
  • Money matters
  • Information for international students


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