Gender, Ethnicity, Text: Contemporary Readings - EN52027

Quick Facts

  • Postgraduate
  • 40 Credits
  • Summer
  • English - School of Humanities
  • Coursework 100%
  • ** This module will not run in 2014-15**

Module Details

This multi-genre module begins with addressing the imbrications of imperialism/colonialism and gender in both theory and text, looking specifically at some of the ways in which writers have 'written back' to canonical English texts. It then addresses gender and ethnicity, sexual identity and cultural difference in the colonial and postcolonial, exploring how the figure of the child - and the figuration of childhood - enables writers to explore socialisation, transgression, femininity, sexual and national identity, and cultural difference.

Texts on offer include fiction, poetry, film, graphic novels and comics, each genre addressing the module's thematic gender, social and cultural concerns through a set of distinctive aesthetics.


Dr Gail Low


There will be a two hour seminar each week.


Coursework makes up 100% of the assessment, as follows:

  • Two (2,500 words) essays worth 50% each


  • Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea (Penguin Classics, 2001) and Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre – any edition
  • Angela Carter, 'Overture and Incidental Music for "A Midsummer Night's Dream”’ in Black Venus (Vintage, 1996) and William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream– any edition
  • John Gardner, Grendel  (Vintage, 1989) and Beowulf
  • Sally Potter (dir), Orlando; Yes  (film)
  • Nella Larsen, Passing (Modern Library, 2001)
  • Tsitsi Dangarembga, Nervous Conditions (Ayebia Clarke Publishing, 2004)
  • Patricia Grace, Poltiki (Capuchin Classics, 2009)
  • Russell Banks, The Darling (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2006)
  • Alison Bechdel, Fun Home (Jonathan Cape 2006)
  • Marjane Satrapi, Persepolis (Vintage, 2008)
  • Jamie and Gilbert Hernandez, Love and Rockets: Volume 1 (Maggie the Mechanic) and Volume 2 (Heartbreak Soup) (Titan Books, 2007)

Access the online reading list system

Module Aims

  • To further students’ understanding of contemporary English literary, filmic texts and graphic novels, and critical approaches to them, including, in particular, the question of postcolonial and sexual politics.
  • To debate imperialism/colonialism and gender – imbrications, complicities, overlapping territories and intertwined histories, contradictions and resistances
  • To explore the commonality of themes and issues such as sexuality and identity, performing gender identities, the Bildungsroman, revisionist readings and writings of canonical Anglophone texts across different genres such as the novel, film (including animation) and comics or graphic novels.
  • To examine the ways in which aesthetic forms and objects inform and are informed by wider social and cultural movements.
  • To experience the range of literatures in English and of regional and global varieties of the English language.
  • To encourage an open, critically aware dialogue between student and teacher that is appropriate to postgraduate study

Intended learning outcomes

  • Understand some of the ways in which gender and/or feminist theories and/or postcolonial theories have come to inform and be informed by literary and media
  • Develop awareness of some of the debates within feminist and postcolonial studies as they impact on various aesthetic forms.
  • Develop an understanding of the way in which aesthetic practices intersect with developments in society and culture.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of linguistic, literary, cultural and socio-historical contexts in which literature and other media is produced and read.
  • Improve verbal and written skills that are appropriate to postgraduate study.
  • Raise awareness of how literature and other media produce and reflect gender and cultural difference.