English – Contemporary Literature MA Welcome Pack

Welcome to English – Contemporary Literature MA 2022.

Welcome to English at the University of Northampton. We are delighted you have decided to study literature at the master’s level, and we trust you will find the programme both challenging and rewarding.

Though the focus is on contemporary literature for this programme, we deliberately broaden definitions to consider contemporary culture more widely, and study texts that sometimes intentionally stretch the notion of ‘the literary’ to take in a wider understanding of our present moment. You will be encouraged to read widely and share your thoughts and opinions on a regular basis in small seminar environments.

As MA students, you will be encouraged to take confidence in your individual readings, debating interpretations and testing ideas not only with your classmates but often with established critics in the most recent academic debates.

Your module tutors will be experts in their fields, bringing research-informed teaching and offering pastoral and individual care – but also encouraging you to take the lead and develop your own ideas independently and on your own initiative.

Your Programme Leader


Dr Claire Allen

Programme Leader in MA English (Contemporary Literature)


Welcome and Induction session

To welcome you to MA English (Contemporary Literature), we are holding an online drop-in session:


Reading Lists 2022-23

Note:  There are four modules here, all of which you will take if you are a full-time student, along with the dissertation on a topic of your choice.

Part-time students will take one module each term, starting with LITM033 – but may choose either LITM035 or LITM039 for the spring (you will not need to select which module until November).

These are full reading lists for the autumn term. We are only providing a few confirmed texts for modules on the spring term – there will be further reading provided soon, but these are dependent on teaching availability not yet confirmed.

LITM033 – Critical Theory and Methodologies (Autumn 2022)

Module Leader: Claire Allen claire.allen@northampton.ac.uk

As the first module taken by every student on the programme, the module aims to introduce some of the major theoretical models guiding the recent development of English Studies. In addition, it develops student’s academic research skills relating to the use of NILE, researching sources online, and self-reflection on learning. It exists in a co-ordinated but independent relation to other named modules in the English Field, and provides them with a methodological and conceptual underpinning.

Primary Reading:
  • Angela Carter’s The Magic Toyshop (1967)
Theoretical Texts:

Preliminary reading in critical theory is recommended, but the weekly reading assignments will be specified when term begins.
If you have not previously studied literary theory at university, it is recommended you do some background reading.

Recommended text: Peter Barry, Beginning Theory (Manchester University Press), 2009.

The works below are mainly shorter essays or excerpts from longer works, and they will mostly be available via the electronic learning platform NILE.

Frankfurt School:
  • Walter Benjamin. ‘The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction’, in Peter Brooker, ed. Modernism/Postmodernism. Longman, 1992, pp. 45-49.
  • Theodor Adorno. ‘Letter to Walter Benjamin’, in Peter Brooker, ed. Modernism/Postmodernism. London: Longman, 1992, pp. 50-57.
Theories on the Author:
  • Roland Barthes, ‘Myth Today’ from his Mythologies (orig. 1957).
  • Roland Barthes, ‘The Death of the Author’ (1967)
  • Michel Foucault, ‘What is an Author?’ (1969)
Derrida and Deconstruction:
  • Jacques Derrida, ‘Signature Event Context’, in Limited Inc. Ed.  Gerald Graff. Evanston. North Western University Press, 1988, pp. 1-23.
Freud, Lacan, and Zizek:
  • Freud, Sigmund. “The Occurrence in Dreams of Material from Fairy Tales.” Writings on Art and Literature. Stanford University Press, 1997: 101-108.
  • Zizek, Slavoj. How to Read Lacan. London: Granta, 2006, pp. 1-22.
Bakhtin and the Carnivalesque:
  • M. M. Bakhtin, ‘Folk Humour and Carnival Laughter’, in Pam Morris ed. The Bakhtin Reader. London: Edward Arnold, 1994: pp. 194-206.
Kristeva and the Abject:
  • Julia Kristeva, ‘Approaching Abjection’, Powers of Horror. New York: Columbia UP, 1982: pp.1-6.
Judith Butler and Gender Performativity:
  • Judith Butler, ‘Variations on Sex and Gender: Beauvoir, Wittig, Foucault’, in Sara Salih ed. The Judith Butler Reader. Blackwell, 2004: pp. 21-38.
Deleuze and Guattari:
  • Deleuze, Gilles and Félix Guattari. A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizoprenia (1987) [Excerpts From].
Postcolonial Identities:
LITM036 – Literary Modernism in a Postmodern World (Autumn 2022)

Module Leader: Rod Rosenquist rod.rosenquist@northampton.ac.uk

Required Books
  • Beckett, Samuel. Krapp’s Last Tape (1958) & ‘Not I’ (1972), both in Complete Dramatic Works (Faber) or Krapp’s Last Tape and Other Shorter Plays (Faber).
  • Winterson, Jeanette. Art & Lies (1994)
  • Delillo, Don. Cosmopolis (2003)
  • Egan, Jennifer. Visit from the Goon Squad (2010)
  • Self, Will. Umbrella (2012)
  • Smith, Zadie. NW (2012)
  • McBride, Eimear. The Lesser Bohemians (2016)
  • Brown, Natasha. Assembly (2021)
Other Online Shorter Texts:

Further note:  If you have not previously studied literary modernism, a good foundation can be built on a few primary and secondary texts:

  • T.S. Eliot, ‘The Waste Land’ and ‘Tradition and the Individual Talent’
  • Virginia Woolf, Mrs Dalloway and ‘Mr Bennett and Mrs Brown’ (or ‘Modern Fiction’)
  • Tim Armstrong, Modernism: A Cultural History (Polity) and/or
  • Peter Childs, Modernism (Routledge)
LITM035 – British Contemporary Gothic (Spring 2023)

Module Leader:  Sonya Andermahr sonya.andermahr@northampton.ac.uk

Note:  A fuller list will be provided later in 2022 – this is just to get you started

Primary Reading:
  • Angela Carter The Bloody Chamber
  • Maggie O’Farrell, The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox
  • Sarah Waters, The Little Stranger
  • Neil Gaiman, The Graveyard Book
LITM039 – Brave New Worlds (Spring 2023)

Module Leader: David Simmons david.simmons@northampton.ac.uk

Note:  A fuller list will be provided later in 2022 – this is just to get you started

Primary Reading:
  • Brooker, Charlie. Black Mirror, episodes “Fifteen Million Merits” (1:2) and “San Junipero” (3:4)
  • McCarthy, Cormac. The Road [2006]. London: Picador, 2009
  • Piercy, Marge. Woman on the Edge of Time [1976].  Del Rey, 2019
  • Russ, Joanna. The Female Man [1975]. London: SF Masterworks, 2009

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