Writing the Modern World is devoted to the critical and creative study of twentieth- and twenty-first-century literature. Its premises are simple yet radical: that writing and reading matter, and that attending to literature and related writings can make a difference both to us and to the world. Writing is understood here not only as what we read but also what we make, and the interrelation of the two activities is central to the life of the MA.
The history of literary writing over the last century-and-a-bit is complex and exciting. It involves the bold experiments of the early twentieth century, the explosion of the anglophone canon to include hitherto unheard voices, and writings from all parts of the globe, the challenging playfulness of postmodernism and the eclectic, hybrid, generically-various texts being written today. Modern and contemporary writing has responded in a variety of ways to the – traumatic or exhilarating – events of the times and to the challenges posed by developments in other media, and has in its turn served to shape our sense of the history out of which it is written. And the idea of the literary has itself been radically transformed in response to rich and challenging theoretical texts, texts which themselves offer various possibilities for writing’s futures.
As a student on Writing the Modern World you will both reflect on and participate in this on-going dynamic of thinking, reading and writing about modern and contemporary literature.
Why Study Modern and Contemporary Writing at UEA?
The School of Literature, Drama and Creative Writing has a strong reputation in the fields of modern and contemporary writing, with a particular concern for the relationships between the critical and the creative. UEA is a place where literary critics and theorists rub shoulders, and exchange ideas, with practising poets, novelists, dramatists and biographers. As a post-graduate here you’ll be part of a vibrant mix of MA and PhD students who are engaged in ‘writing the modern world’ in a variety of ways, whether it be through producing critical studies of novels, poetry or plays or through writing their own. As well as being taught by prize-winning scholars and authors, you will also – through the UEA Literary Festival – encounter the foremost figures in contemporary writing today.
Course Content and Structure
The course takes one year of full-time or two years of part-time study. At its heart are two innovative core modules, one taken in the autumn semester, the other in the spring. The first of these is Living Modernism. The focus here is on the extraordinary experiments of the early decades of the twentieth century (in writers such as Joyce and Kafka) and on the living legacy their inventive works bequeath to contemporary critical and creative writing (in the work by writers as diverse as Samuel Beckett and Walter Benjamin, Kazuo Ishiguro and Theodor Adorno, Denise Riley and Mladen Dolar). In the spring, the focus shifts to Creative-Critical Writing, a module in which contemporary hybrids of fiction and criticism (by writers including Geoff Dyer and Jacques Derrida, Anne Carson and John Wilkinson) are read, pondered and played with, and in which you are encouraged to experiment with your own critical voice. Theory in both of these modules is treated, not as a free-standing body of knowledge, but as an interactive component of the twentieth- and twenty-first-centry literary tradition.
Two further modules must then be selected, one in each semester. Options include Culture and its Discontents, Fiction after Modernism, Ludism: Play and Postmodern Art, and ‘World Literature’ to the ‘Global Text’. Students are also able to select modules from related MA programmes, including the likes of Describing Poetry, Novel History, The Persistence of the Aesthetic, and Critical Theories of the Western Self.
The programme concludes with a dissertation, begun in the spring and completed at the start of September. Here, students work one-to-one with a tutor on a topic of the student’s own choosing. This extended research project serves as the culmination of the work, both literary-critical and theoretical, conducted over the course of the programme. Many students have used the dissertation as a testing ground for further study at PhD-level.
This school offers programs in:
Last updated June 21, 2016