The first decade of the 21st century has been remarkable for the energy and diversity of its literary creativity, and it is the purpose of the MA in 21st Century Literature to examine this exciting new field. The post millennial context offers new opportunities for scholarship and innovative thinking about literature, and it is already clear that a great deal of original and innovative research is taking place in 21st century writing, culture and theory. The peculiarly rich features of 21st century study include not only attention to texts that are genuinely and properly contemporary but also the particularly potent symbolic evocations that arise from the new millennium. In addition to millennial discourses, the new political context of a post 9/11 world has already generated an abundance of creative and critical writing that seems both to revive a pre-End of History philosophy and to offer new forms and tropes to express the contemporary moment.
All students on the programme will undertake the core modules ‘English Now 1 & 2’. This offers students the opportunity to read and give considered attention to the poetry, drama, fiction and ‘life writing’ that is currently being produced in Britain and Ireland. This core module, which explores a range of contemporary writing, also provides a uniquely exciting focus for the study of current theoretical and critical thinking, the relationship of literary texts to their contexts, and the distinctiveness of literature itself as a cultural practice. The second half of the taught programme offers students a choice of two options from a set of (currently) six modules on contemporary writing, in each case leading to a small research project of the student’s own choice. The selection comprises thematic perspectives such as contemporary representations of London (London Now), options focusing on genre or genre and nation like Post-millennial Short Stories and Contemporary American Fiction and modules concentrating on critical and theoretical approaches such as Literary Theory in the 21st Century and Issues in Ecocriticism, and a module examining gender and authorship (Women Writing the 21st Century). The research projects for these options are designed to train students for the final part of the course, which is a dissertation on a 21st century text or topic, developed by the student in consultation with tutors, researched and written up as a 15,000 word study.