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Contemporary Literature and Culture MA

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  • Objectives
    This Masters programme has been designed to develop students' theoretical understanding of contemporary literature in its cultural, social, intellectual and aesthetic contexts. It allows students to engage with the diverse field of late 20th and early 21st century literatures in both critical and creative ways. As a student at Brunel, you will be invited to consider the impact on contemporary writing of such concepts and conditions as: postmodernity, contemporaneity, marginalised literatures, the avant-garde and the mainstream, popular literature, historiography, innovation, new technologies, interactivity, and the marketplace. But the course centres on literary texts, giving you skills and opportunities to discuss some of the most exciting literature of the last thirty years. In addition to the wide-ranging syllabuses for taught modules which confront and interrogate the divisions between innovative and popular literatures, you will be able to pursue independent study through the Dissertation. The MA is taught through workshops and seminars, moderated by distinguished research-active staff working in the field. You will be expected to contribute to discussions, present your own interpretations and raise new questions for debate. On completing the MA, you will have skills which are vital for careers in publishing, print and electronic media, the culture industries and education. If you wish to continue your studies at doctoral level, you will have essential research skills, and the opportunity to join a flourishing research culture at Brunel. Our staff have expertise in a wide range of contemporary literatures, and you will benefit by series of talks and events by writers, industry representatives, and scholars, as well as the activities organised by the Brunel Centre for Contemporary Writing and the Archive of the Now. Additionally, there are financial benefits offered to alumni of the Brunel MA programmes to help you on your way.
  • Entry requirements
    Entry Requirements You should have a good honours degree or relevant professional experience. The Programme Convenor will consider all applications including those from international students and individuals with extensive relevant experience.
  • Academic Title
    Contemporary Literature and Culture MA
  • Course description
    This MA is the first in the country that allows advanced study of contemporary literature in all its diversity. We examine popular genres, the 21st century novel, contemporary innovations, postcolonial literatures, postmodern poetics and more. Designed to develop advanced theoretical understanding of cultural, social, intellectual and aesthetic contexts, it allows students to engage with some of the most exciting writing of the last thirty years.

    At Brunel, you'll attend classes focusing on Zadie Smith, Esther Freud, John Ashbery, Salman Rushdie, J H Prynne, Amitav Ghosh, Ian McEwan, Bollywood films and gangsta rap. An extensive programme of Writers Talking allows you to hear important contemporary writers discussing their own work. The Brunel Centre for Contemporary Writing organises research seminars, or you can make use of the substantial archival holdings of the Brunel University Library. And an excellent team of research-active tutors and practising writers will give you insights into a range of genres and creative practices you may never have encountered before.

    The wide-ranging syllabuses for our taught modules confront the divisions between innovative and popular literatures. In workshops and seminars, students engage in discussion, present thier own interpretations and raise new questions for debate. You will develop your skills and expertise in the Dissertation, a major project focusing on the literature of your choice.

    On completing the MA, you will have skills which are vital for careers in publishing, print and electronic media, the culture industries and education. If you wish to continue your studies at doctoral level, you will have essential research skills, and the opportunity to join a flourishing research culture at Brunel. Additionally, there are financial benefits offered to alumni of the Brunel MA programmes to help you on your way.

    Course Details

    At present there are six modules on offer.

    Studying the Contemporary:
    Covers research methodologies relevant to contemporary studies, an overview of the intellectual, aesthetic and cultural issues relevant to contemporary literary production, and then finally considers a number of key contemporary writers such as Toni Morrison, Martin Amis, John Ashbery, JH Prynne and Salman Rushdie.

    Postcolonial Literature:
    This module analyses the emergence of post-colonial literatures during and after European colonialism, and their massive impact on contemporary writing and culture in Britain, the US and Europe.

    Writing Now:
    This module introduces some key writers and theoretical debates informing the composition and reception of innovative poetry and prose. It is unique in focusing on 21st century literatures, and on the ways in which cutting-edge literatures expose the contradictions in contemporary culture.

    Popular genres and fictions:
    This module examines contemporary popular fictions, and the roots of genres such as Science Fiction, Romance, Detective Fiction, the Western and Travel writing, to investigate how 20th century traditions are renovated for life in the 21st century.

    Theories of Practice:
    An option offered from our successful Creative and Professional Writing MA, this module considers some key debates from contemporary critical theory and cultural studies, allowing students to theorize the complexities of creativity itself.

    The Dissertation:
    To prepare you for what is perhaps the most important piece of writing you have yet produced, Brunel’s distinguished teaching staff will work with you in developing a relevant, realistic and original research project in an area of contemporary literature and culture of your choosing. Our team offers close supervision and regular contact, as you work on a long essay exploring the writer or subject of your choice. In addition to our diverse expertise, Brunel’s teaching staff has a long tradition of supporting interdisciplinary and creative projects, and of supporting students to produce work of exceptionally high standard.

    Special Features

        * Taught by specialists in the field

        * Looks at contemporary writings in all their diversity

        * Emphasis on close reading of a wide range of literatures

        * Theoretically informed by the latest work in the field

        * Provides a sophisticated framework of cultural and intellectual contexts

        * Only MA in the country dedicated to the widest variety contemporary literatures

        * Special emphasis on 21st century and cutting edge writings

        * The location of Brunel University in West London places it in the heart of contemporary literary and cultural life

        * Important writers and creative practitioners in the School of Arts contribute to teaching the programme and to the research culture at Brunel

        * A unique opportunity to construct a programme of study in accordance with your own interests

        * You can draw on the School’s new archive of contemporary writing, Archive of the Now, and its Centre for Contemporary Literature

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