Voices in the Archives: Writing from History (944Q3B)

30 credits, Level 7 (Masters)

Spring teaching

In this module you will consider how writers draw on history to shape their creative writing.

You will think about how different literary genres engage with the past through form, narrative and literary language, and look at the cultural impact of contemporary historical fiction. You will also consider work by poets and film-makers.

Authors studied may include Sarah Waters, Ian McEwan, Toni Morrison, Hilary Mantel, David Dabydeen, Mario Petrucci, George Szirtes and Michel Hazanavicius.

You will take part in creative workshops and develop key research skills, exploring the methodological implications of using physical and virtual archives.

You will work with historical newspapers, letters, diaries, prints, photographs and other documents to experiment with using language from the past to inflect contemporary voices.

Topics for discussion include the critical and ethical implications of writing about real historical events and characters. You will consider how contemporary writing is founded on a long tradition of writing from history, often re-visiting the past with a particular political or creative agenda, from Shakespeare and Dickens onwards.

You'll also explore how recent historical fiction interacts with other genres, for example in the fantasies of Susanna Clarke and Angela Carter and consider theoretical work on memory and nostalgia by critics such as Mieke Bal and Svetlana Boym.

Teaching and assessment

We’re currently reviewing teaching and assessment of our modules in light of the COVID-19 situation. We’ll publish the latest information as soon as possible.

Contact hours and workload

This module is approximately 300 hours of work. This breaks down into about 22 hours of contact time and about 278 hours of independent study. The University may make minor variations to the contact hours for operational reasons, including timetabling requirements.

This module is running in the academic year 2021/22. We also plan to offer it in future academic years. However, there may be changes to this module in response to COVID-19, or due to staff availability, student demand or updates to our curriculum. We’ll make sure to let our applicants know of material changes to modules at the earliest opportunity.

It may not be possible to take some module combinations due to timetabling constraints. The structure of some courses means that the modules you choose first may determine whether later modules are core or optional.