This BA-programme offers the unique chance to combine a classical programme in English literature with two contemporary specialisations. You will of course read canonical British works by William Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Oscar Wilde, and Virginia Woolf. In addition, you will explore contemporary novels from different English-speaking countries, such as Ireland, America, and Canada. You will analyse these texts from two cutting-edge perspectives: English literature in a changing world, and English literature in a visual culture.
English literature in a changing world
How does literature react to major changes in society? Think of the attacks on the Twin Towers and the novel Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. In our courses you will discover how literature can also cause social change. A famous example is Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which played an important role in the abolition of slavery. Literature has the power to change readers’ ways of looking at the world. The novel 1984 raised concerns over government surveillance of its citizens. In other words, literature is not positioned at a remove from society, but at its very centre. Studying English literature therefore also entails studying the major social developments in various English-speaking countries.
English literature in a visual culture
A story is hardly ever told only in words: nineteenth-century novels were often illustrated, and contemporary fiction is marketed by its cover image. But the relation between word and image extends beyond illustrations. The same story can be told both in a novel and in a film – or even multiple films, think of Pride and Prejudice. The graphic novel has grown out of its superhero phase and now deals with issues such as the Holocaust in Maus. The computer game Resident Evil has spawned as many as seven novels. The analysis of literature is therefore inseparably connected to knowledge of visual culture.
You will round off your BA-programme with a thesis of which you determine the subject yourself. Some students write about canonical texts such as Macbeth and The Picture of Dorian Gray. Others focus their research on the renewed interest in vampire stories such as Twilight or the differences between the novel and the television series Game of Thrones.