This taught Masters degree introduces students to the relation between literary writing in English and political and social discourse in Britain and Ireland between the ‘Glorious Revolution’ of 1688 and the end of the 19th century.
This is the period which saw the parallel emergence of a modern ‘public sphere’ of print culture, the economic institutions of modern capitalism, and the modern British constitution: the creation, that is, of the Britain in which we live today. It also saw the conceptualisation of ‘ancient’ British, Scottish and Irish national cultures as a response to these radical innovations. Literary verse and prose played a crucial role in all these developments, and examining that role is the central concern of this degree.
It is aimed primarily at students who have studied English Literature as undergraduates, and wish to deepen their understanding of the historical and philosophical stakes in the 18th century, Romantic and Victorian literature in English; but it will also appeal to history graduates who wish to understand the role of literary writing in modern social and political formations.
The core courses are ‘Enlightenment and Romanticism 1688-1815’ (semester 1); and ‘Romanticism and Victorian Society 1815-1900’ (semester 2). These examine:
To do this, core seminars will typically discuss novels and poems alongside contemporary political theory or polemic, and/or in relation to more recent texts of literary, cultural or critical theory.
The importance of Scottish and Irish writing to these questions in this period is reflected in the high proportion of Scottish and Irish authors on the core syllabus.
The MSc in Literature and Society: Enlightenment, Romantic, Victorian draws upon the outstanding existing research and teaching strengths of members of the Department of English Literature at Edinburgh University.
Dr Penny Fielding, an expert in 18th and 19th century literature, with particular interests in 18th century poetry, the Romantic period novel, Scottish writing, and literary theory;
Dr Robert Irvine, who specialises in 18th and 19th century literature in relation to social politics and political ideas, with a particular focus on Scottish writing and liberalism;
Dr Alex Thomson, whose research concentrates on the politics of literature in the 19th and 20th centuries, in particular the concept of the ‘nation’, and the formation of the modern concept of ‘literature’ in the Romantic period;
Dr Anna Vaninskaya, whose expertise lies in the intersection of literature and politics in the 19th and 20th centuries, especially in the late Victorian and Edwardian period, including the literature of Englishness and class.
This article was published on Jun 29, 2012