Department of English UG Module Directory (2020)

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Writing Empire: the Eighteenth Century

Level 6 (30 credits)

Students on this module read a range of eighteenth-century writing (such as novels, memoirs, essays, travel writing, poetry and philosophy) associated with the history of empire, focusing on the Caribbean and the South Pacific. Students will develop an understanding of literary and philosophical writing in relation to historically-enduring issues and ideas about empire, race and colony. Topics for discussion may include the English encounter with the non-European world; the rise of the novel and colonial expansion; cross-cultural encounters; exploration and discovery; slave narrative and anti-slavery debates; colonialism and trade; the representation of cultural difference; and the theory of the colony and the empire.

Preparing for this Module and Approximate Costs

Writing Empire is taught in an innovative format worth 30 credits in one semester. We will meet twice a week, for two hours each time (total 4 hours a week). There will be one major text to read in most weeks, on which we will spend two or three classes.

The course begins by studying four indicative literary texts that explore the interface between the history of empire and literature of the long eighteenth century: Defoe's Robinson Crusoe, Behn's Oroonoko, Cook's Journals and Equiano's Narrative. In the second half of the course we will explore some of the key debates arising from colonial encounter and imperial endeavour as they are reflected by creative writers and political philosophers: slavery, slave rebellion, cannibalism, the state of nature, and property. If it is possible, we will make one visit to a museum (such as the Exploration galleries at the National Maritime Museum), or go on a walk around central London.

The module will have a module pack, which will supply all the material we read except for the following key texts. You should have your own copy of each of these (buy one or borrow from a library)

Later in the module we will also read other short texts, all of which will be in a free module pack. Among them is

Some other preparation you could do might include:

Primary texts costing up to £24 if purchased new in recommended editions. Note that this cost can be reduced by purchasing items second-hand or borrowing them from the Library.

Return tube travel (DLR) to Zone 2 on one occasion for field trip.

Learning Context Long Seminar
Semester 1

1. Assignment 1 (1500 words), 30%
2. Participation, 10%
3. Essay (3500 words), 60%

Mode of reassessment Standard
Contact Markman Ellis