Been a long time since I talked about modules. Half of the modules in a BA English final year here are chosen by you, assuming you’re a student on the course and not somebody else. For a run-through of all the modules currently on tap, check out the website. The only ones I care about right now are the ones I’m doing. Let’s take a look, shall we?
Romantics and Victorians: Literature 1789-1870
Literature and Culture of the 1890s
Victorian to Modern: Literature 1870-1945
Post War to Postmodern: Literature 1945-Present Day
Detective Fiction from Sherlock Holmes to the Second World War
Chosen modules — a.k.a. the Special Subjects and, effectively, the Dissertation — are in italics. As is clear from the list, the non-chosen subjects run a straight chronology from the French Revolution to Arab Spring, the clearest timeline in Leicester’s generally-historical ordering of literature modules. The Special Subjects are applied for in the second year, or whilst abroad if you choose an Erasmus year, and you put down a list of your preferences in order. Depending on such factors as course popularity, your other choices, and the alignment of the planets, you are then granted whichever of your choices the School of English deems fit.
Just analysing my modules here, you can see a heavy emphasis towards the Victorians — in two obligatory modules as well as the 1890s and Detective Fiction modules — which was admittedly accidental. But my dissertation tackles a more distant and less-drawing-room situated period of literature, because I’m writing about the interplay between Dante’s Inferno and Milton’s Paradise Lost, probably the two most important depictions of Hell in Western Literature. I say ‘Literature’ because otherwise they’d have to compete with Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey.
Soon I’ll talk about the first semester in more detail, as it’s coming up. If any year of the degree requires a lot of summer spent reading, it’s this one. Going into the final year without any dissertation plan, or without having read at least a few of the frankly huge Victorian novels on the reading list (ahem, George Eliot Won’t Stop Writing Words: The Movie: The Novel) would be a pretty risky strategy. And I’m not sure what that point of that strategy would be.