Interdisciplinary MA in Culture and Thought after 1945

Detail from 'Ain't Gonna Eat My Mind', Rory McCartney 2010.  Used with artist's permission.

About the MA

About the MA

The mix of interests, subject disciplines and perspectives has resulted in great debates and conversation


MA convenor: Dr Gerard McCann (

The MA in Culture and Thought after 1945 is a flexible taught programme that draws on the rich offerings of six departments and centres at York.  

Students have the opportunity to explore the key developments of the contemporary period in original and exciting ways, from an interdisciplinary perspective.

The MA allows students to construct a programme that suits their particular interests: students can choose from a wide range of option modules and explore the methodologies and subject matter of multiple disciplines.  

The course has granted me the freedom to pursue a wide range of research interests where the taught aspect has expanded my horizons rather than limited the areas I can explore.


The core module provides a foundation in various disciplinary and transdisciplinary ways of conceptualising and analysing the contemporary. 

Students can take the course full-time (one year) or part-time (two years). All students follow the team-taught core module and three MA optional modules offered by partner departments (Archaeology, English, the Centre for Women’s Studies, History, History of Art and Sociology).

Coursework consists of four assessed essays of approximately 4,500 words each. The Summer Term and the rest of the academic year are devoted to the production of a 14,000-16,000-word dissertation, which is submitted at the end of September.

Preliminary reading list 2018-19 (PDF  , 410kb)

What our students say

Core module

Core module: Framing the Contemporary

Tutors are excellent, thorough, enthusiastic and exceptional at encouraging group interrogation

 The core module, ‘Framing the Contemporary’, introduces students to a variety of approaches to studying the art, culture, and thought of the period post-1945 to the present. Because the MA is interdisciplinary, the core course has a strong methodological bent, providing students with an introduction to the various means by which different disciplines conceptualise and analyse the period.

The module is team taught by tutors from the different departments involved in the MA, each contributing sessions that highlight a central way in which their discipline categorises the period (for example, the shift from modern to postmodern in English, or the end of Empire in History), while providing examples of the methodological tools used to construct this way of reading the period.

Really good [seminar group dynamics], with lots of involvement and discussion

After successfully completing the core module students should have:

  • a familiarity with a range of ways of understanding the post-1945 period
  • an awareness of different methodological and conceptual approaches used by different disciplines with regard to the contemporary
  • the ability to identify points at which different disciplinary approaches to the period converge and inform one another.

Option modules

Option modules

The MA is fully modularised and divided into 4 taught modules - the compulsory core module (Framing the Contemporary) plus three option modules.

In the Autumn Term full-time students take one option module from relevant programmes in our partner departments: Archaeology, English, History, History of Art, Sociology and the Centre for Women's Studies. In the Spring Term two option modules are taken.

Part-time students take their first option module in the Spring Term of Year 1, and their second and third option modules in the Autumn and Spring Terms of Year 2.

The option modules offered vary from year to year, depending upon the interests and availability of staff.   The next tab shows a provisional list of options for the forthcoming year.  

2018-19 Options

2018-19 Options

Here is a list of the option modules that we are offering in 2018-19.  

Autumn term 2018

Department Module Module code Tutor 
Archaeology Making the Nation ARC00022M  Jonathan Finch
English and Related Literature  Reading Modernity ENG00030M Various
English and Related Literature Debating Global Literary Culture 1800-present ENG00027M Various

English and Related Literature  

Film/Literature Encounters: History, Theory, Criticism ENG00014M Michael McCluskey
English and Related Literature Sicily between Page and Screen ENG00111M Nicoletta Asciuto
English and Related Literature Unspeakable Bodies: Theorising Queer and Abject Embodiment in Literature, Art, Medical History, & Culture,1880-present  ENG00099M Boriana Alexandrova-Isgate
History Approaches to Modern History  HIS00010M Jasper Heinzen
History The Making of the Contemporary World: History, Politics and Ideas since 1945  HIS00053M  Sam Wetherell, Sara Van Goozen
History Global Visions and Local Action: The History and Politics of International Health HIS00056M Alexander Medcalf
History Neoliberalism and its Discontents: The World Since 1968 HIS00099M Sam Wetherell
History Critical Studies in History, Humanities and Wider Interdisciplinarity HIS00091M Various
History Russian Foreign Policy from Alexander I to Vladimir Putin  HIS00074M  Shane O'Rourke
History Mending the Past: History & the Politics of Guilt & Reparation HIS00081M Geoff Cubitt
History Ethical Colonialism: the Social, Economic and Political Development of the British Empire, 1947-64 HIS00112M David Clayton
History of Art The Uses of Photography  HOA00069M James Boaden

Culture, Society & Globalization 1. Theories & Developments

 SOC00018M  Wes Lin
Centre for Women's Studies Gender and Violence  WOM00007M  Clare Bielby
 Centre for Women's Studies Feminist Cultural Activism  WOM00006M  Ann Kaloski Naylor

Spring Term 2019

Department Module Module code Tutor 
Archaeology Empires of Improvement ARC00023M  Tom Fitton

Digital Publication and Web Technologies

ARC00007M Tim Evans
English and Related Literature Useful Cinema: Documentary, Educational, and Activist Film ENG00097M Michael McCluskey
English and Related Literature Narrative, Fiction, Theory  ENG00023M Richard Walsh
English and Related Literature Modern Theatre and the Political Imagination ENG00094M Emilie Morin
English and Related Literature Political Fictions: Film and the Novel in the Global 21st Century ENG00078M Adam Kelly
History Public History placement HIS00050M Hannah Greig
History The End of Empire in the Caribbean HIS00047M Henrice Altink
History of Art Habitats: Art and the Environment in Italy, 1945-75 HOA00083M Teresa Kittler
History of Art Monument, Object, Fetish, Artefact: Contesting ‘Modern’ Sculpture HOA00082M Michael White
History of Art Toil and Trouble: Feminism and Art Now HOA00081M Cadence Kinsey
Sociology Culture, Society & Globalization II: Inequalities & Practices SOC00019M Nisha Kapoor
Sociology Law and Social Control  SOC00016M  Katy Sian
Sociology Metrics and Society SOC00022M David Beer
Centre for Women's Studies Feminism and Sexuality  WOM00005M Evangeline Tsao 
Centre for Women's Studies Women, Citizenship and Conflict  WOM00010M Clare Bielby