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Comparative and World Literature capitalises on SOAS’ location at the heart of central London, close to historic literary locations and a range of world class cultural institutions which inform this module’s exploration of comparative cultures and literatures. Accordingly, students will be required to undertake field-work involving on-site research in venues such as the British Museum and Tate Modern. You will be encouraged to place literary texts in political, social and historical contexts drawing on the rich archive of London’s global cultural heritage.
The module begins with an overview of key literary trends and movements from Romanticism through the Victorian Age and into the Modern era, and draws on London’s history and character as an imperial and global city, examining writers such as Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Charles Baudelaire, Edgar Allan Poe and Virginia Woolf. The focus then moves to key genres and debates which have shaped world literatures more recently, encompassing postmodern and postcolonial texts reflecting contemporary debates around race, gender, sexuality, eco-politics and class. Emerging issues and themes such as migration, urban life, the movement of capital and climate change inform our readings of contemporary literature in English.
The module aims to demonstrate how the range of linguistic structures and forms used by writers in English reflects a transnational world. It also engages with other academic disciplines such as history, art history, media and film studies, political science and social science. Through exploration, comparison and contrast, students will learn to think independently and engage critically and creatively with a range of important literary texts.