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Changes of Meaning, Narratives of Change

Core module for the  MA in Eighteenth Century Studies.  Can be taken as an optional module.

Module Tutor: Gillian Russell
Level: Postgraduate
Module Code: CES00007M
Credits: 20
Term Taught: Autumn

This module is intended to provide a common formative experience for students who may well be drawn from different disciplinary backgrounds, including literary studies, history, art history, philosophy and others. Seminars place emphasis both on the close analysis of texts, discourses and representations, and on the development of interdisciplinary frameworks of analysis by means of which text, discourse and representation can be related to broader conceptions of historical and cultural change. The module is also available as an option module to students following different MA programmes.



Module outline

Some seminars in the core module will employ an anthology of short-to-medium length texts or extracts from contemporary printed materials, in order to explore the shifting and evolving meanings that were assigned to particular words, concepts or discursive formations in the period covered by the course. The emphasis here will be very much on contemporary usage and on the close analysis of discourse as expressed or embodied in primary textual materials, on topics such as Gender Difference, Public and Private, Decline and Fall, Colonization, Divisions of Labour. Other sessions will draw on secondary literature as well as primary materials and will aim to introduce students to the kinds of conceptual apparatus that present-day scholars employ in analysing and contextualising the discursive structures and representational patterns of the past. These seminars may include Theories of Representation, Text and Image, Readership, Spectatorship and Audience, Spatial Organisation and Material Culture.





Aims and outcomes

Module aims

  • To introduce students to the key research and learning skills necessary for MA study
  • To provide an interdisciplinary knowledge and understanding of major cultural themes and issues in British culture 1750-1850
  • To introduce students to a variety of methodologies for interpreting this topic
  • To develop students’ skills in independent research, oral presentation, and essay writing

Module outcomes

Subject content

  • Have a knowledge of a wide range of primary materials that broaden the parameters of eighteenth-century studies beyond usual undergraduate levels
  • Have an understanding of some of the major issues, debates and discourses that shaped British cultures and their relation to other cultures in the period 1750-1850
  • Have an awareness of how these topics and questions have been discussed/theorised in secondary literature in recent decades

Academic and graduate skills

  • Demonstrate high-level skills in argumentation, both in oral presentation and in essay writing
  • Be fully aware of the range of resources available locally, within and beyond the University, and be confident in using them
  • Identify relevant resources, and show creative ability in locating useful and stimulating sources and methodologies




Assessment is by one 4,500 word essay.