Approaches to Literary and Visual Culture

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Module code


Change of module title from 2015-16 to Approaches to Literary and Visual Culture.

This is the core module for both the MLitt in English Studies and the MFA Arts and Humanities. Reflecting this double role, there are two strands, which run at different times of the week: one focusing primarily on literary theory and the other on theories of visual art. However, students on each Masters programme can select a combination of topics from either strand, offering choice and enhancing interdisciplinary potential. The module is taught in 2-hour seminars, which run weekly for 7-8 weeks per semester, focusing each week on a specific theory and/or approach. Later in each semester, some weeks are set aside for essay consultations and writing.

  Indicative List of Topics

  • The Ideas of ‘Culture’ and ‘Criticism’
  • What is an Author?
  • Postmodernism and Popular Culture
  • Historicism and New Historicism
  • Eco-criticism
  • Feminist Criticism
  • New Criticism / Formalism
  • Frankfurt School on literature                      
  • Ethical Theory and Criticism
  • Psychoanalytical Theory and Cultural Discourse
  • Intertextuality, Parody and Pastiche
  • Ekphrasis
  • Satire in Theory and Practice
  • Visual Culture
  • Theory of the Image
  • Modernism and Visual Culture
  • Theory of the Picture
  • Digital Theory
  • Theory of Photography
  • Abstraction                                        
  • Writing Art    


This module is assessed as follows:

  • Essay: 3,000 words (English Studies) / 2,500 word (MFA) (40%)
  • Essay: 4,000 words (English Studies) / 3000 words (MFA) (60%)

Intended learning outcomes

On completion of the module students should be able to demonstrate:

  • the ability to employ critical and cultural approaches to written texts and visual artworks;
  • an advanced level of knowledge and understanding of different approaches to research in their subject areas;
  • the ability to identify and assess current and significant issues and debates in critical and cultural studies;
  • an understanding of interdisciplinary approaches and methodologies;
  • the ability to respond to a range of social, historical and cultural representations and practices;
  • sufficient methodological knowledge and skill to devise and write a major piece of research involving original ideas, analysis and argument


Prof Andrew Roberts