Have We Got MAs for You!

Have We Got MAs for You!


Survived the dissertation? Thinking about the possibility of further study? Check out the MA options offered by the School of English and Journalism:

MA 21st Century Literature: This course allows you to examine fiction, drama and poetry from the UK and Ireland published since 2000. Engaging with current literary creativity and theoretical frameworks, you will consider the relationships of texts to their contexts and the complexity of the relationship between literature and cultural change.

MA English Studies: In this course, you will examine the diversity and variety of our subject, ranging from the medieval period to the contemporary moment. Flexibility exists for students to develop their own areas of interest in a particular period, genre or theme, while simultaneously applying current critical perspectives to their interests.

MA Creative Writing: Our MA in Creative Writing provides you with the opportunity to work closely with practising creative writers at the University and several other writers from outside the University. You will balance creative practice with critical analysis, and have the opportunity to work in all literary genres of writing, including the chance to publish your work.

MA Nineteenth Century Studies: This course is interdisciplinary, where you can extend your studies of texts to address also paintings, photographs, buildings, objects and institutions. All these materials are interpreted with reference to the nineteenth-century cultural context, an era of unprecedented social and intellectual development which has vital legacies today.

Come and chat to Programme Leaders and students about the various MA options on Thursday 3 May 2018, at 2pm, in MB2206. We look forward to seeing you!

MA Trip to Haworth

MA Trip to Haworth (April 2018)


Students from both English Studies and 21st Century Literature had a lovely weekend at the Brontë Parsonage Museum in Haworth, East Yorkshire. Home to the famous Brontë sisters, the trip involved a private tour of the parsonage, organised by student Tim Rideout and funded by the English department at the University of Lincoln.

Jeni got involved with the interactive exhibits at the parsonage.

Jeni got involved with the interactive exhibits at the parsonage.

Alongside the exclusive tour, students were able to further explore the parsonage (which is open to the public) in their free time, and also visit the research centre located within the museum. This included a look around nearby church, where Patrick Brontë worked as the curate from 1820. The parsonage rotates its displays annually, with only one quarter of its artifacts on display at any one time. This year, an exhibit ‘Making Thunder Roar’ celebrating Emily’s bicentenary can be seen on the ground floor, alongside the recreated rooms of the parsonage.This includes various artifacts on display such as first editions of the Brontës’ novels, copies of their juvenilia and even Anne’s collection of pebbles!

After the tour, we asked some of our students what they enjoyed the most:

A copy of the Brontë juvenilia on display.

A copy of the Brontë juvenilia on display.

For me, it was all about the juvenilia. Since writing on it at undergraduate I’ve always been amazed by the miniscule nature of the sagas. It was fascinating to be able to see their size up close, and even read some of it with a magnifying glass!’ Rebecca Coddington, English Studies.

The best thing for me was sharing a place I love with the rest of the group.’ Tim Rideout, English Studies.


The group enjoyed a spot of lunch in the historic village of Haworth.

The trip included a visit to Haworth itself and a refreshing stop at a local café where our students enjoyed some lovely cakes and snacks, before setting off on an exploration of the local book shops and one final look around the parsonage before heading home.

There was even time for a few more group photos after a VIP tour of the parsonage.

There was even time for a few more group photos after a VIP tour of the parsonage.

We cannot thank Tim, our voluntary driver Michelle, and the English department enough for making this trip possible, and we look forward to running more in the future!

You can find out more about visiting the parsonage here.

Student Reviews: Martin Amis’ The Zone of Interest

Book Review: The Zone of Interest by Martin Amis

Katie Mulhern: 21st Century Literature

Readers of Martin Amis’s novel The Zone of Interest are provoked to question their understandings of morality, perspective and the relationship society has with history. A history novel that Amis locates at the centre of Auschwitz, The Zone of Interest is set in Kat Zet, and is told through the eyes of three intradiegetic narrators, Paul Doll, Angelus Thomsen and Szmul. Amis signals his intentions in writing this novel in the epilogue, he states that although “we know a great deal about the how […] but we seem to know almost nothing about the why.” (Martin Amis, ‘Acknowledgements and Epilogue: ‘That Which Happened’, The Zone of Interest, 2014).  It seems, in the twenty-first century, with all its political and social instability there is a renewed urgency to explore the ideological causes and repercussions of the Holocaust in contemporary society. However, because of the tragic nature of the Holocaust There is a legitimate skepticism surrounding Amis’s work of fiction. The Holocaust has become an industry, a commodity that has the ability to sell books, films and holidays in the contemporary world. Tim Cole describes in his book Selling the Holocaust the tourism industry surrounding Auschwitz, suggesting that ‘Auschwitz’ is to the ‘Holocaust’ what ‘Graceland’ is to ‘Elvis’. A cynic might suggest that Amis’s literary visit to Auschwitz capitalises on the existing interest. Readers of Holocaust fiction, then, mirror the tourists visiting Auschwitz. They become tourists of “guilt and righteousness: guilt at an almost pornographic sense of expectancy of the voyeurism ahead. And yet guilt tempered by a sense of righteousness at choosing to come to this place”.

The Zone of Interest is Amis' 14th novel, published in 2014.

The Zone of Interest is Amis’ 14th novel, published in 2014.

However, I believe that the power of Amis’s novel emerged from his satire of the Nazis. For example, at the forefront of Amis’s narrative is satire predicated on the un-exceptionalism of the Nazis. Paul Doll is presented as a bumbling and erratic character, who struggles to keep control of the regime at Kat Zet.  Amis demonstrates how there is nothing exceptional about his character, by emphasising his inability to lead effectively: “There was another cock-up – ferrying the bodies away before their mates got back from work. We covered the carts but we couldn’t do anything about the blood of course. Wasn’t time. The men saw. It was tense. […] Mobius thinks we may have to do another batch. Repeat the whole palaver” (Martin Amis, The Zone of Interest, 2014 p.122). Amis satirises the Nazis by juxtaposing the banality of bureaucracy with mass murder. This stark contrast is a clear moral judgement. The description mimics the comedic failings of a slap-stick comedy duo because the language Amis employs, such as “cock-up” and “palaver” is shockingly casual and banal in recounting the systematic killing of prisoners. This representation also demonstrates how there is nothing impressive about Doll. This portrayal not only reflects the reality of Höss, the Commandment of Auschwitz from 1940 onwards, as a historical figure, but emphasises the connections between the past and present. Doll’s pathetic and bumbling behaviour doesn’t reinforce the readers’ expectation of the ‘monster’ that ran Auschwitz. Amis’s depiction denies the reader the comfort of vilifying a particular individual. He refuses any form of catharsis by identifying a single villain that can be expelled from humanity. Instead, Amis gestures towards a form of masculinity and behaviour that has, and continues to exist. Doll represents an average middle-aged white man who is capable of such evil. Amis’s portrayal of Doll is unexceptional because the Nazi’s were unexceptional, and that is what makes them relevant and dangerous in the twenty-first century. Thus, Amis’s satire is effective because it “is not only an attack; it is an attack upon discernible, historically authentic particulars” (Frederic V. Bogel, The Difference Satire Makes, 2001). The targets of Amis’s mocking are not fictional, they are recognisable and “plainly existent in the world of reality” (Bogel). In turn, the reader is able to recognise that the characteristics of Doll and the Nazis in the Third Reich are not confined to Auschwitz. The satire, therefore, becomes a moral judgement as well as a cautionary tool for the reader to stay vigilant. Amis’s satire “ultimately makes a case for universality” (Ruth Franklin, A Thousand Darknesses: Lies and Truth in Holocaust Fiction, 2011). His novel bridges the gap between the present and the past in order to emphasise “the fundamental sameness of the human condition”(Franklin).Amis’s satire makes connections to the past, showing that ultimately humanity is always capable of such atrocities, and to stop it from happening we need to understand why, and therefore the Nazi perspective is unavoidable. By attributing the holocaust to inherent aspects within the human condition, Amis disturbs the reader into this realisation, forcing them to recognise that in order to prevent a repetition of the Holocaust, a more complex understanding of the perpetrators is needed. Moral outrage is easy, but having an understanding of humanity’s capacity for genocide is essential.

Amis also features Szmul, thus grounding his narrative with an evocation of the Jewish voice. Szmul’s narrative juxtaposes Doll’s chapters, undermining his authority and perspective by directly contradicting his experience. His articulation of life in the Kat Zet is heart breaking. Szmul also figures in the novel as an explanation for Amis’s untraditional narrative perspective. For instance, although some critics are unconvinced by Amis’s use of humour, it can be argued this unconventional approach to such a horrific atrocity is consistent with the widely held sentiment that the Holocaust “outstrips imagination” (Richard L. Rubenstein and John K. Roth, Approaches to Auschwitz: The Legacy of the Holocaust, 1987). Writers have consistently struggled to “be creative when […] reality has already given birth to persons, places, and events that defy imagining” (Rubenstein, Roth,). However, it is also widely acknowledged that although “it is impossible to write adequately about the holocaust; [the] task must be attempted” (Rubenstein, Roth). The limitations of language are most evident when trying to portray the horror of the Holocaust. This paradox is described by Szmul when he tries to articulate his experience, “I am choking. I am drowning. This pencil and these scraps of paper aren’t enough. I need colours, sounds – oils and orchestras. I need something more than words” (Amis, p.238). His inability to communicate his suffering echoes Theodor Adorno when he famously stated, “to write a poem after Auschwitz is barbaric, and that corrodes also the knowledge which expresses why it has become impossible to write poetry today” (Theodor Adorno, Prisms, trans. by Samuel and Shierry,1981). Moreover, Amis reinforces his difficulty in articulating and understanding the Holocaust conventionally, “The facts, set down in a historiography of ten thousand volumes, are not in the slightest doubt; but they remain in some sense unbelievable, or beyond belief, and cannot quite be assimilated. Very cautiously I submit that part of the exceptionalism of the Third Reich lies in its unyieldingness, the electric severity with which it repels our contact and our grip” (Amis, ‘Acknowledgements and Epilogue, p.309). The power of Amis’s novel comes through, therefore, in his unconventional perspective. Amis does not explicitly outline his moral judgement of the Nazi’s and their actions because they are fundamentally present throughout the text; they are enclosed in the form, the innovation, the humour and the fleeting glimpses of horror. When asked by Francesca Riviere for The Paris Review if “the writer’s voice is in his style?” he responded “It’s all he’s got. […] It’s a tone, it’s a way of looking at things. It’s a rhythm”. Thus, his satire of the Third Reich is potent with what is negated by Amis, this “allows us to see the outline of that which is beyond words. The silence, as so often, is heard in the gaps between the laughter, in the realization that we’ve been laughing at all” (Alex Clark, ‘The Zone of Interest Review – Martin Amis Returns with Holocaust Comedy’, The Guardian, (2014). Amis’s innovation attempts to transcend the fracture between language and understanding whilst still grounding the narrative within the reader’s knowledge of the events.

Overall, I believe the power of Amis’s novel can be found through his attributing the Holocaust to certain aspects of the human condition. Though there are flaws to his novel, and issues with consistency of style I suggest that The Zone of Interest resists easy moral outrage, instead provoking the reader to see the visible connections between the past and present. Despite Amis’s sometimes inconsistent style, he ultimately suggests that a more complex understanding of history, and the individuals that perpetrate atrocities, is necessary in order to prevent similar horrific acts happening again


Katie is currently studying MA 21st Century Literature. Have you also read this novel? Let us know what you thought of it in the comments or on our social media platforms.

The Zone of Interest from most major retailers.

Student Reviews: Eimear McBride’s A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing

Book Review: A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing by Eimear McBride
Rebecca Coddington: English Studies.

Eimear McBride’s A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing is an original novel which plays with the conventions of language, pushing it to its limits. It tells the story of a nameless girl, using a stream of consciousness narrative to tell describe the traumatic events of her life. Taking inspiration from James Joyce’s Ulysses, the novel contains broken, fragmented sentences which may initially disorientate the reader, yet still feel natural to us. As Ron Charles of The Washington Post notes: ‘it’s a staggering emotional ordeal that draws us into the world of a woman forced to endure a knife drawer of horrors that would slice up anyone’s sanity.’ I would definitely agree that this is an accurate judgement of the novel, with its twists and turns keeping the reader hooked to its unusually-worded pages.

A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing is Eimear McBride's debut novel.

A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing is Eimear McBride’s debut novel.

Although I don’t usually steer towards modernist fiction, I found A Girl to be a dramatic and invigorating read. The abnormal language of the novel immerses the reader in the traumatic life of a half-formed girl, struggling through childhood and early adulthood and fraught with themes of sexuality, religion and Irish culture. Despite steering away from a traditional prosaic structure, McBride’s novel remains universal in its ambiguous nature through its unnamed characters and themes of despair and loss which we can all relate to on some level. It is this handling of grief within the novel which has made it my favourite so far from the English Now 2 module, where we have recently studied fiction and form.

Eimear McBride’s A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing is covered in the English Now 2: Fiction and Form module.

Have you read this novel? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

You can read Ron Charles Review Here.
A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing is available from most major retailers.