English MH101 - Maynooth University

English MH101 (English as part of a joint honours BA Programme) Outline course description, 2014-5 First Year English Co-ordinator: Dr Oona Frawley The English syllabus at Maynooth University is a highly structured programme, which over the course of three years provides a comprehensive survey of the discipline. First year introduces students to the principal literary forms – drama, fiction, poetry – in relation to different literary traditions and contexts. In exploring a range of literary texts from formal, historical and cultural perspectives, a further aim of first year is to introduce students to modes of literary analysis and critical interpretation and to develop an understanding of key theories of literature and culture. There are four compulsory modules in first year English. The overall aims of the First Year programme are to • • • •

Introduce students to a variety of literary forms and traditions Develop analytical reading skills and modes of literary interpretation Develop written expression and essay writing skills Develop a good general sense of literary history and critical theory

EN150 Criticism, Research and Writing

Assessment: Weekly writing assignments and final essay

This course considers what it means to read critically, and how such critical reading can be used to write analyses of literary texts. Through lectures and twice weekly small group seminars, the course provides a ‘road map’ for critical theory in English studies, as well as offering practical sessions on the writing of essays within the discipline of English. The aims of the module are: • • • •

to look at new ways of reading a literary text to introduce literary and critical theory to help you with essay writing for third level to introduce basic research techniques which you will need over the course of your degree

Primary Texts

Peter Barry, Beginning Theory; Aidan Day, Romanticism; selected essays and poetry provided on moodle 1

EN152 Poetry Assessed by exam

Poetry can provide us with our most intense and most concentrated experiences of language. To begin to read a poem critically is to enter into an engagement with language that may be complex or profoundly simple; a poem may follow a strict set of rules, or it may break all of the normal rules of grammar and syntax. In every case, however, a poem will be the product of a particular time and place. Likewise, the ways in which we choose to read a poem will be influenced by what we decide to include or exclude in our reading. This module begins by looking at some of the varieties of poetic form as well as its contexts. Finally, it brings together both formal and contextual readings in a series of case studies of contemporary poets. Primary Texts

Terry Eagleton, How to Read a Poem; selections from poets including Eavan Boland, Jackie Kay and Benjamin Zephaniah (on moodle) EN153 Fiction Assessed by essay and exam

‘Our lives are ceaselessly intertwined with narrative, with the stories that we tell and hear told, those we dream or imagine or would like to tell, all of which are reworked in that story of our own lives that we narrate to ourselves’ (Peter Brook). This module will introduce you to the study of prose fiction. Through reading and discussing a selection of classic and contemporary novels, and one collection of short stories, you will engage with the various strategies fiction writers use to present their characters and plots. You will be introduced to some key concepts used by literary critics: narrative, story, plot, narration, character, genre, realism. The course will encourage you to think carefully about how literary texts ‘work’, while also encouraging you to think critically and historically. Primary Texts

Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice; Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights; E. M. Forster, A Passage to India; James Joyce, Dubliners; Hanif Kureishi, The Buddha of Suburbia; J. D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

 EN154 Drama Assessed by exam

This module explores a diverse range of plays and illustrates the shifting historical and performance contexts that govern theatrical expectations and dramaturgical practice. The course examines a variety of plays, each of which makes use of different formal 2

conventions and makes different assumptions about the nature of the world, the nature of drama, and the nature of audiences. By the end of the course, it is expected that students will be able to critically analyse many of the dramatic and theatrical devices that have been ‘naturalised’ by long usage and appreciate that constant innovation is the only constant in the world of live performance. Primary Texts

Aphra Behn, The Rover (any edition); Bertolt Brecht, Good Person of Szechuan; Gregory Burke, Black Watch (Faber, 2010); Yael Farber, Mies Julie (Oberon, 2012); Arthur Miller, Death of a Salesman (Faber); Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night's Dream (any edition) Second Year English

Co-ordinator: Dr Stephen O’Neill Second year English introduces students to literary and cultural production from a variety of places and historical periods. You will have the opportunity to build on foundational modules offered in first year English on literary forms and on literary criticism and theory. The course comprises six modules. In the first semester, students take EN252 Renaissance to Restoration, EN253 Enlightenment and Romanticism and EN254 Irish Studies I. In the second semester, students take EN251 World Literature, EN255 Criticism and Research and EN256 Victorianism to Modernism. Elective seminars are offered within EN254 and EN255. These enable students to undertake more focused study in the areas of Irish literature and in gender studies. The course spans a broad historical period, taking students from Shakespeare and the English Renaissance in the late sixteenth century to the emergence of modernist writing at the end of nineteenth century. The modules are complementary, allowing you to arrive at an understanding of the evolution of literature in English. But they are also designed to bring into focus a set of themes and to introduce you to ongoing debates about what constitutes the literary canon, about understandings of national literary traditions and their reception, and to ideas about how gender, sexuality and class shape and are shaped by literary expression. Second Year English will • • • •

Encourage a deep understanding of literature in English in its historical and cultural variety Develop your capacity to recognise different critical approaches to literature and to apply these to your own work Enhance your skills in close reading and textual analysis Enhance your verbal and written expression through continuous assessment and in-class work

EN252 Renaissance to Restoration Assessed by exam and essay


This module examines the literature and culture of the period known as the English Renaissance. This period witnessed the expansion of vernacular English, the development of a new literary culture, new concepts of gender and sexuality, and considerable political and religious turmoil. The module introduces students to Elizabethan poetry, focusing in particular on the intersection of poetics and politics in sonnets by Sidney, Shakespeare and Spenser. Students also have the opportunity to build on their study of Shakespeare from first year. The module considers a major Shakespearean comedy and also a tragedy, as well as plays by dramatists such as Marlowe and Jonson. Texts are explored in relation to historical and cultural contexts and evolving questions about political power, gender, class and cultural difference. The module also considers developments in poetic styles in the work of Lady Mary Wroth and the metaphysical poetry of John Donne, and examines Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost, focusing on poetry as a response to the English Civil War and the Republic. Primary Texts

Selected poetry by Elizabeth I, Puttenham, Sidney, Spenser; Marlowe, Doctor Faustus; Shakespeare, As You Like It; Shakespeare, King Lear; Jonson, Volpone; Middleton and Dekker, The Roaring Girl; Milton, Paradise Lost; Dryden, Absalom and Achitophel EN253 Enlightenment to Romanticism Assessed by exam This module explores the literature of the so-called ‘long’ eighteenth-century (16601830) in the context of broad contemporary issues of imperial expansion and revolutionary change. Poetry in this period becomes politicized in response to a ruling order that is under ever increasing pressure to legitimate itself in new ways and to an ever larger proportion of the population. We will consider Romantic period poets, examining selections from Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, as well as the intersection of poetry and revolution in the poetry of Blake and Shelley. This period also witnessed the emergence of the novel as a genre with literary pretensions and literary anxieties. Students will have the opportunity to consider the development of the novel of sentiment and to examine the work of women writers such as Frances Burney and Jane Austen. Upon completion of the module, students should be able to understand how ‘Literature’ itself was institutionalized as a reflection of national and imperial selfdefinition. Primary Texts

John Gay, The Beggar's Opera; Alexander Pope, ‘Eloisa to Abelald’, ‘Rape of the Lock’; Samuel Richardson, Pamela; Laurence Sterne, Tristram Shandy; William Wordsworth, The Prelude (1805); John Keats, ‘Ode to a Nightingale’, ‘Ode to Psyche’, ‘Ode on a Grecian Urn’, ‘Ode to Autumn’; George Gordon, Lord Byron, Don Juan (early cantos); Frances Burney, Evelina; Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey EN254 Irish Studies I 4

Assessed by exam and essay

This module examines dialogues with the past in the work of such writers as Yeats, Synge, O’Casey and Joyce and the new, frequently contested, versions of Irish history, culture and identity that they in turn produced. This module will consider the relationship between overlapping cultural and political revolutions as well as the creative ties and tensions linking a specifically Irish literary tradition with a broader European context of modernism. As part of the module, students also take an elective seminar. This enables them to work in smaller groups and to focus on aspects of Irish literature and culture from a number of theoretical perspectives. Primary Texts

Harrington, ed. Modern Irish Drama; Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man; Larissy ed., Yeats: the Major Works; Synge, The Aran Islands; Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest and De Profundis EN251 World Literature I Assessed by essay This module is intended to illustrate the history of how writers have confronted an ever expanding world. The popularity of travel writing, and of writing which claims to come from far flung places, demonstrates the thrill of being de-centred, of having one’s own values and assumptions challenged and sometimes jeopardized. Students will have the opportunity to study figurations of colonial or ‘foreign’ spaces in such texts as Edmund Spenser’s 'The Mutabilitie Cantos' and A View of the Present State of Ireland. Students will also be introduced to travel narratives and to the discourses of slavery in such texts as Olaudah Equiano’s The Interesting Narrative of Olaudah Equiano and Mary Prince’s The History of Mary Prince Related by Herself. The texts on this module variously describe a history of dialogue, conflict and confusion between Western European and non-Western European cultures. Literature of this kind can serve both imperialist and anti-imperialist agendas, can help to subjugate or to liberate. Primary Texts

Edmund Spenser, extracts from A View of the Present State of Ireland; Edmund Spenser, 'The Mutabilitie Cantos' (any edition; available as part of The Faerie Queene on Project Gutenberg); Watkin Tench, A Complete Account of the Settlement at Port Jackson (any edition; available free on Project Gutenberg); Watkin Tench, A Narrative of the Expedition to Botany Bay (any edition; available free on Project Gutenberg); Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, The Turkish Embassy Letters (Virago edition); Olaudah Equiano, The Interesting Narrative of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African, Written by Himself; Mary Prince, The History of Mary Prince Related by Herself; Charlotte Brönte, Jane Eyre EN255 Criticism and Research


Assessed by exam and essay This module introduces students to various modes of contemporary cultural theory that deal with the complex relationship between literature, sexuality and gender. Students will be introduced to key tenets and key varieties of modern feminist literary theory. The course starts with the ‘first wave’ of feminism in the early and mid-twentieth century, and looks at Virginia Woolf’s A Room of her Own and Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex. We then move on to Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar, which can be read as a feminist text that just pre-dates the ‘second wave’ of the women’s movement. Later texts, such Alice Walker’s The Colour Purple and selections from Adrienne Rich’s poems and prose, will be examined in the light of the feminist literary criticism that developed during the 1960s and 1970s. In this respect we will ask what place women’s writing has in relation to a literary canon that historically has being gendered male. As part of the module, students also take an elective seminar. This enables them to work in smaller groups and to read literary texts and contemporary popular culture through theories of gender and sexuality. Primary Texts

Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex; Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar; Adrienne Rich, Norton Prose and Poetry; Alice Walker, The Colour Purple EN256 Victorianism to Modernism Assessed by exam This module introduces students to the main cultural movements and writers of the Victorian period. It will cover such themes as the influence of Darwinian evolutionary theory, fears of degeneration, decadence, aestheticism and naturalism. The module will explore such texts as George Eliot, Middlemarch, Thomas Hardy, Tess of the d'urbervilles, and selected poems by Tennyson, Browning, Matthew Arnold and Christina Rossetti. We will also examine the relationship between the Victorian sense of ‘crisis’ and the emergence of modernism around the turn of the twentieth century. Primary Texts

George Eliot, Middlemarch; Thomas Hardy, Tess of the d'urbervilles; selected poems by Tennyson, Browning, Matthew Arnold, Christina Rossetti (on moodle)

Third Year English

Co-ordinator: Dr Colin Graham Your third year of study will bring you up-to-date in English studies, allow you the opportunity to specialize through in-depth study, and bring you to a new level in the exploration of key ideas and concepts in contemporary literary studies. By the end of third year you will have acquired a broad range of knowledge, abilities and skills which will help to equip you for the workplace, further study or teaching. 6

At the core of third year English at Maynooth is the continuation of the historical study which begins in second year. You will study modernism, a literary movement which reacts against the remnants of the Victorian age and ushers in new and experimental ways of writing. The twentieth century saw innovations of form and thinking in literature and criticism and in EN351 you will study theories of Marxism, feminism and postmodernism, and follow these trajectories into more specific areas in seminars. Irish writing played its part in the modernist transformation of literature and Irish Studies II begins to trace these changes in Irish writing alongside the development of literature in the new and partitioned state. You will also study literature written after modernism and after the Second World War, while the postmodern period is also reflected in the increased interweaving of film with other forms of culture. Our Film Studies module examines the commercial explosion of the Hollywood era. World Literature II examines the writing produced as the European empires of the nineteenth century were overturned and newly independent cultures and nations emerged in the post-colonial period. Third Year English will •

• • •

Enhance your ability to critically read and contextualize modern and contemporary literature and culture Expand your knowledge of literature, culture, film and theory in the modern period Hone your research skills Encourage you to formulate independent and articulate arguments

EN351 Research Seminar Assessed by exam and essay This module will encourage students to think reflectively about the use of contemporary cultural theory with a view to developing their own independent research projects. The first part of the module will take the form of a series of lectures on cultural and literary theory, encompassing broad topics such as, but not necessarily restricted to, gender, Marxism and postcolonial theory. The second part will take a seminar form in which students will choose between a series of special topics on particular authors or themes with a view to writing an extended research essay in this general area. This part of the module will also deal with practical skills of critical essay writing including matters such as electronic sources and archives, handling alternative views and methodologies, and matters of editing, revision and professional presentation. Reading list: Theodor Adorno, The Culture Industry; Judith Butler, Gender Trouble; Jean Baudrillard, The Jean Baudrillard Reader. EN352 Post-War to Postmodern Literature Assessed by exam and essay


This module will introduce students to literature written from the end of the Second World War to the present day. The module will examine the effects of the immediate post-war period on literature in England, concentrating in particular on the ways in which poetry and drama reacted to the new class politics of post-war England, and subsequently how new and previously marginalised voices entered in to mainstream literature. It will also examine how experimental postmodern literatures explore and shape inheritances and instances of war in the ‘postmodern condition’, and as the ‘postmodern condition’.

Reading list: Ian McEwan, Atonement (2002); Toni Morrison, Beloved (1987); Philip Roth, American Pastoral (1997); Art Spiegelman, Maus (1991); Jeanette Winterson, Sexing the Cherry (1989); Charles Bernstein, selected poems (available on moodle). EN353 Modernism

Assessed by exam and essay Beginning in the late nineteenth-century and reaching a highpoint in the period after World War I, the creative ferment now commonly described as modernism saw the production of some of the most spectacular works of theatre, literature, cinema, music, the visual arts and architecture in the twentieth century. Breaking with received ideas of mimesis and perspective, refusing long-established conceptions of classical order and harmony, and shattering the conventions of nineteenth-century realism, the great modernist works provoked a sense of outrage and confusion that reverberated across the century. Reading list: James Joyce, Ulysses; T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land.

EN354 Irish Studies II Assessed by exam and essay Building on Irish Studies I, this module will first examine various aspects of Irish writing and culture since the partition of the island into two separate states in 1921. Many have felt that once the revolutionary political excitements of the war of independence and the cultural ferment of the Irish Literary Revival had abated, Irish society across the island settled into an extended period of conservative stupor characterized by repressive and insular majoritarianisms. This view of things probably underplays the degree of social conflict still at work within both states throughout the century and by the 1960s at any rate the combined effects of industrial modernization and the women’s movement in the South and the civil rights campaigns and the ‘Troubles’ in the North generated levels of social agitation and conservative backlash sufficient to convulse the island for several decades. This module will explore the complex relationship between cultural and social change in Ireland between the 1920s and the present. Having read a variety of literary texts, students will be asked to consider these in the light of ongoing debates in Irish Studies about the nature of modern Irish society and culture. 8

Reading list: Kate O'Brien, The Land of Spices; Flann O'Brien, At Swim-two-birds; Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot and Happy Days; Brian Friel, Translations and Faith Healer; Paula Meehan, The Man Who Was Marked by Winter (available on moodle); Seamus Heaney, selected poems available on moodle; John Banville, The Book of Evidence; Anne Enright, The Gathering EN355 World Literature II Assessed by exam The breakup of the European empires, which began after World War I and accelerated after World War II, was one of the decisive developments in twentieth-century history. The ongoing contraction of European power in this period challenged Europeans, whether living in the European imperial metropoles or the in colonial settler outposts of empire, to re-evaluate the ideas of progress, enlightenment and civilization that had long served both to legitimate the imperial mission and to inform the realist novel. For the formerly colonized peoples, however, the effort to overcome European domination and to establish a more equitable postcolonial world order posed even greater challenges, challenges which were not just political and economic but also intellectual and cultural in nature. This course will investigate a variety of twentieth-century literary and intellectual responses to the decline of empire and to the enormous dilemmas that confront the postcolonial world, looking in particular at the ways in which the featured works formally and thematically register the political, cultural and existential crises involved. The texts discussed include examples of late imperial romance, colonial settler narrative, and the postcolonial novel. Reading list: Rider Haggard, King Solomon's Mines (1885); George Orwell, Burmese Days (1934); Doris Lessing, The Grass is Singing (1950); Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart (1958); Salman Rushdie Midnight's Children (1981); Brian Chikwava Harare North (2009) EN356 Film Studies Assessed by exam This module offers a range of approaches to the cinema, focusing not on the small number of movies and directors that critics consider great but on what André Bazin calls ‘the genius of the system.’ The cinema has had numerous manifestations in its approximately 115-year lifespan, the most powerful and influential of which has been the U.S. cinema identified with Hollywood. Often called the dream factory, Hollywood developed by the 1920s a kind of conveyor-belt system to produce fantasies for mass consumption both at home and abroad. To safeguard its success, it has been anxious to put in place and maintain textual and extra-textual systems by which it could reproduce itself as a benign purveyor of harmless entertainment. In order to gain an understanding of dominant cinema, this course will employ formal, historical and theoretical methodologies in its focus on how the factory operates and the nature of the


dreams it produces. An important part of the course will be the screening of films that typify aspects of the historical development of Hollywood. The module will seek to foster an interpretive community – an audience – with the ability to engage with movies critically. Lectures will be accompanied by a series of compulsory screenings.



English MH101 - Maynooth University

English MH101 (English as part of a joint honours BA Programme) Outline course description, 2014-5 First Year English Co-ordinator: Dr Oona Frawley Th...

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