Voices in the Archives: Writing from History (944Q3A)

30 credits, Level 7 (Masters)

Autumn teaching

This module invites you to consider the ways creative writing uses history, from pragmatic research strategies to theoretical implications. You will be invited to develop your own critical thinking and creative writing practice.

We think about how different literary genres engage with the past through form, narrative and literary language, looking at the cultural impact of contemporary historical fiction. We also study archival documents and special collections at The Keep, Brighton.

Authors that may be considered include:

  • Ali Smith
  • Virginia Woolf
  • Sarah Waters
  • Toni Morrison
  • Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • Angela Carter
  • Charles Dickens.

You will be introduced to key research skills through creative writing workshops, and explore the methodological implications of using physical and virtual archives.

Working with historical newspapers, letters, diaries, prints, photographs and other documents, we immerse ourselves in old-fangled vocabularies, and experiment with using language from the past to inflect our contemporary voices.

Topics for discussion include the critical and ethical implications of writing about real historical events and characters.

We 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.

Additionally, we explore how historical fiction interacts with other genres, for example poetry and film. We consider theoretical work on historical fiction, memory and nostalgia by critics such as Georg Lukacs, Svetlana Boym and Walter Benjamin.


100%: Seminar


100%: Coursework (Essay)

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.

We regularly review our modules to incorporate student feedback, staff expertise, as well as the latest research and teaching methodology. We’re planning to run these modules in the academic year 2023/24. However, there may be changes to these modules in response to COVID-19, 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.