What type of academic placement might be undertaken?



Our module convenors are very keen to encourage those students who are considering an academic placement. If you are interested but are not sure you want to commit just yet, or if you would like some more ideas about what you might do, you could:

  • Talk to or email our Placement Tutor, Dr Cindy Becker.
  • Come along to one of the informal drop-in academic placement sessions.
  • Have a chat with your seminar leader.
  • Talk to or email your module convenor.
  • Go and see your academic tutor.
  • Look at the list of placement ideas below.
  • Go to the BlackBoard placement module site, where there are even more ideas.

You can do any or all of these to help you get some ideas and work out the best way forward for you. Each placement is as unique as you are and we are here to help.

Part Two modules - usually taken by students in their second year

Part 2 module: Critical Issues

The module offers some excellent opportunities for placements. You could develop your understanding of the 'sexuality' theme through working for Stonewall, for example, or investigate the status of the literary 'Monument' through working with a publisher of 'classic' literature.

Part 2 module: Introduction to Old English Literature

One idea for a placement would be to look at the interpretation and dissemination of information about the Staffordshire hoard, given that it is now in conservation and no longer on display (http://www.staffordshirehoard.org.uk/). How can we use a knowledge of Old English Literature to explain these artefacts, and what do these artefacts tell us about Old English Literature. The same could be done with Sutton Hoo (http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/sutton-hoo/), but that's less current. Another idea would be to look at Old English Literature and the marketing of fantasy fiction.

There is another, more difficult topic that might suit someone with a Language background, and that would be a study of the use of internet resources to teach Old English (grammar and Old English literature). Can the internet provide resources that the classroom cannot?

Part 2 module: Modernism in Poetry and Fiction

This module aims to develop your knowledge and understanding of the poetry and fiction of the modernist period (1890-1940). Placements in locations and organisations that deepen your understanding of this period would work particularly well. Modernist writers engaged in particular with urban spaces, and cultural institutions such as galleries and museums highlighting this aspect would be good placement venues. Otherwise of course any museum dedicated to an author's life.

Part 2 module: Renaissance Texts and Culture

Renaissance Texts and Culture is a module which challenges students to consider Renaissance texts as products of, and thus necessarily engaging with, the culture within which they were produced. Placements within schools or colleges, during which students could consider how these texts are taught and how the interrelation between the period and the texts which arise from it is explored, could produce material suitable for the learning outcomes of the module.

Part 2 module: Writing and Revising

The Writing and Revising module is designed to help you to create original works of poetry, fiction or drama in a regular workshop situation. Your will also develop your skills in analysing your own and others' work. Placements which might support the work in our workshops could include projects with publishing houses, literary journals, newspapers, arts funding bodies, galleries and museums, literary agents, radio and television, and other media outlets. Depending on the genre of your own creative work, you might also consider placements with theatre companies and other 'performers' of literature.

Part 2 module: Writing, Genre and the Market

The Writing, Genre and the Market module is designed to introduce students to the conditions and pressures related to specific types of writing and their publication. Placements which might support the work in our module could include projects with publishing houses, literary journals, newspapers, arts funding bodies, galleries and museums, literary agents, radio and television, and other media outlets. The possibilities for useful placements connected with this module are vast.

Part Three modules - usually taken by students in their third year

Part 3 module: Classical and Renaissance Tragedy

This module provides an introduction to some of the most important plays of the Greek and Roman tragedians (such as Sophocles, Euripides and Seneca), as well as focusing on tragic drama from the Renaissance. It invites students to locate late sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century tragic drama against the larger background of classical tragedy and to reflect on the nature of tragedy as a theoretical concept within these contexts. The aims of this module are: to develop knowledge and understanding of a range of the tragic drama of the classical and Renaissance periods; to promote awareness of the critical and theoretical issues surrounding tragic drama; and to enable students to think critically about the relationship between classical and Renaissance tragedy as a means of understanding the development of tragedy as a genre.

Placements potentially suitable for this module include: theatre or performance experience (e.g. attending rehearsals or workshops relating to a tragic play); library or archive work (e.g. comparing editions of plays); teaching experience related to classical or Renaissance tragedy; translation studies (e.g. looking at issues surrounding translation of Greek and Latin into English or questions regarding the translation or publication of tragic drama).

Part 3 module: Colonial Explorations

The British Empire and Commonwealth Museum, Bristol would be an interesting location for an academic placement, as would Reading Museum; the Huntley and Palmers' Collection in Reading could also be of interest, as would an exploration of the history and impact of the Maiwand Lion.

Part 3 module: Contemporary American Fiction

This module explores a diverse range of contemporary American fiction, from metaphysical detective novels by Thomas Pynchon and Paul Auster, to the feminist realism of Jane Smiley and Carole Shields, to the political metafiction of Philip Roth and Tim O'Brien. Potential placements for this module include working at the Rothermere American Institute in Oxford, the Eccles Centre for American Studies at the British Library, and the American Museum near Bath.

Part 3 module: Eighteenth-Century Novel

This module aims to develop your knowledge and understanding of the eighteenth-century novel, focusing in particular on the ways in which gender and sex are constructed in and through the literary works of this period. We will be looking at texts that include sentimental narratives, near-pornography, and close relations of gothic fiction. Placements in locations and organisations that deepen your understanding of the eighteenth century and/or the construction of gender would work particularly well.

For the eighteenth century, you could think about approaching museums dedicated to an author's life, for instance Jane Austen's sometime residence, Chawton House or the Jane Austen's House Museum, or Shandy Hall in North Yorkshire (Laurence Sterne's former residence). Placements at Sir John Soane's House (the Soane Museum, London) or the British Museum (founded in the eighteenth century) might deepen your understanding of eighteenth-century ideas about and and attitudes towards the wider world. Placements in bookshops or publishers could lend insight into the ways in which eighteenth-century literature is sold to readers now.

Placements that address the construction of sex and gender in literature and culture might take place in publishing houses or film companies. You could also work with charities or other organisations that address the place of women in society, including the Fawcett Society or Women's Aid.

Part 3 module: Eighteenth Century Text Culture and Education

Eighteenth Century Text Culture and Education is interested in reading debates within pedagogical discourse that continue to this day. As such, placements at examination boards would be especially useful. Placements at schools and colleges would also be excellent.

Part 3 module: Family Romances

Local museums, records offices or the British Library Listening Project might all provide useful placements for this module.

Part 3 module: Fiction and Ethnicity

This module lends itself to an exploration of human rights and equality, so students might pursue placements within the Equality and Human Rights Commission or similar organisations, including shadowing/working with the Equalities Officer at Reading Student Union. Any organisation dealing with questions of racial and ethnic diversity and equality could be of value as a potential placement provider - your local volunteer bureau might be a good place to explore in the first instance.

Part 3 module: Holocaust Fiction

This module explores the ways in which a diverse range of writers - Jewish and non-Jewish, North American, British and German, male and female - have represented the Holocaust and its legacy in fiction. Potential placements for this module might include working at the Jewish Museum or Imperial War Museum in London, or for the Holocaust Educational Trust.

Part 3 module: James Joyce

This module examines the work of James Joyce, concentrating in particular on Ulysses and Finnegans Wake. Although an exile from his home country for much of his life, Joyce's work engages in particular with Irish culture and politics. Joyce's books are so wide-ranging that a placement in any cultural institution can be made to fit with this module. For example, the protagonist of Ulysses, Leopold Bloom, is an advertising agent, so any placement in advertising would work.

Part 3 module: Nineteenth Century American Fiction

Much of the fiction on this module represents the modern urban experience. In particular, characters are portrayed as caught within seemingly mechanistic systems and institutions. But these same characters sometimes evolve a renewed sense of agency and choice. Possible placements might then be in the locales that the writers offer as emblematic of urban living: the army, factories, offices, and department stores.

Part 3 module: Packaging Literature

The Packaging Literature module is designed to help you to explore the ways in which authors (and/or publishers/editors) create a relationship with their work and their readers (and/or audience members/consumers/purchasers). This is done through a critical examination of the packaging of literature, which could include prologues, prefaces, first scenes of plays, book covers and editorial/publishers' blurb. In addition we consider different sources of literature and the means used to foster a productive (albeit sometimes inherently artificial) relationship within and around a text. Placements which might support the work in our seminars could include placements and projects with publishers and other producers of literature. You might also consider placements with theatre companies and other 'performers' of literature. Journals, magazines and newspapers which contribute to the packaging of literature through reviews and critiques could also provide useful placements.

Part 3 module: Shakespeare on Film

On this module we aim to consider the transmission, interpretation and adaptation of the works of Shakespeare through the medium of film. Our explorations will consider the effect on the texts of such endeavours, the ways in which texts can translate into theatrical performances and into film, and the impact of directorial intervention and film-making techniques on texts. In a wider sense, we will be discussing the cultural and artistic influence of Shakespeare and his works, and how this influence might be altered by his works on film. Within the context of the learning on this module, placements which you might like to consider could include schools or colleges, to investigate how Shakespeare on film is used within a teaching context. Alternatively you might explore the option of working with a theatrical company in order to investigate the move of a dramatic work from page to stage, in order to then relate this further to dramatic works on film. Undertaking a placement with a film or television company which produces drama on screen would also be interesting. Given that we are considering the iconic image of Shakespeare in arts and culture (including the economic impact of his works) you might also want to research a placement within the 'Shakespeare industry'.

Part 3 module: Studying Manuscripts

This module provides a practical and theoretical introduction to the study of manuscripts, using authors' papers, publishers' collections and generally literary archives. Students will have the unique opportunity of drawing on the resources of the Samuel Beckett Archive and other Special Collections held at the University of Reading. As a first step you could contact Special Collections in Reading, although a placement at any archive or museum that houses material pertaining to an author would be perfect.

Part 3 module: Writing America

This module is chiefly concerned with the construction of American national identity in and through nineteenth century American literature. Potential placements for this module might include working at the Rothermere American Institute in Oxford, the Eccles centre for American Studies at the British Library or the American Museum in Bath.

Part 3 module: Writing the North American Wilderness

A large part of the focus of this module is on the cultural significance of wilderness to North America and the debates which follow about the right way to portray wilderness and its wild animal and human inhabitants. In broader terms the module is concerned with literary and cultural constructions of landscape and nature and their implications. Appropriate placements therefore might be with the BBC Natural History Unit in Bristol, the Nature in Art museum in Gloucester, working on educational outreach programmes of environmental or conservation organisations such as Wilderness Foundation UK or the UK Wolf Conservation Trust near Reading and/or working on publications produced by such organisations (such as the Wolf Conservation Trust's magazine Wolf Print), or working in the tourism industry with a focus on nature/wildlife or wilderness tourism and/or tourism built around literary constructions of nature such as in the Lake District, or the Tarka trail in Devon.

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