English at Queen’s brings together a variety of specialist approaches under a single subject heading. Our literature courses encourage students to look at a writer’s works in the context of the historical period, the cultural background, and the literary genres to which these works belong. They also introduce students to critical theories such as feminism, structuralism and post- structuralism, which are now a significant part of literary studies.
The language courses in the School (also available on our Linguistics pathways) encompass the study of language structure and function, including the day-to-day use of the language and the major influences which have shaped it over the last millennium and a half. There is also a vibrant creative writing community in the School, hosted by the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry, whose staff teach on the new English with Creative Writing degree.
In the first year introductory modules, students will read work taken from every period, from Old English to the present day. They will be asked to explore some basic questions: What is literature? Why are some works counted as ‘literature’ and not others? Students will be introduced to literary form and critical approaches to interpreting texts, including gender, nationality, historicism and post-colonialism. There are many possible ‘readings’ of a text and our first year modules provide a broad understanding of political, aesthetic and psychoanalytical contexts for interpretation.
In the second year, students choose from modules which build upon the introduction to advanced literary and linguistics studies undertaken in Stage One, with modules covering the entire historical range of English studies.
In the third year, students have a choice from a range of specialist modules, reflecting the research interests and expertise of the module convenor. At Stage Three students are expected to engage fully and critically with module materials, and are occasionally given the opportunity to develop independent research topics.