Posthuman/Premodern (Q3321)

30 credits, Level 6

Autumn teaching

This module takes up notions of the ‘posthuman’ – including the animal, the monstrous, automata, the object (e.g. clothing, prostheses), and matter itself (e.g. soil, dust, the earth) – in premodern literature - that is, in literature written before 1800.

We will read across a range of texts – poetry, plays, encyclopaedias, philosophy, theology, medicine – from classical antiquity (Aristotle and Ovid), through the Middle Ages (Chaucer and Lydgate) and into the early modern period (Baldwin, Descartes, Spenser).

This will enable us to engage with the origins of humanist discourse, which puts ‘man’ at the centre of the universe, and tackle questions such as: what constitutes the ‘human’ in premodern thinking? How do notions of the posthuman in premodern literature orient a relationship with other animals and the natural world? How do bodies and technology interact in narrative and performance? And what paradigms for thinking through the posthuman emerge in the intersection of premodern literature and contemporary theory? To answer, we’ll engage with theories like those of Jacques Derrida on the animal, Jane Bennett on ‘vibrant’ matter, and Donna Haraway on the Cyborg.


33%: Practical (Workshop)
67%: Seminar


100%: Coursework (Essay, Portfolio)

Contact hours and workload

This module is approximately 300 hours of work. This breaks down into about 36 hours of contact time and about 264 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 feedback, staff availability, student demand or updates to our curriculum. We’ll make sure to let you know of any material changes to modules at the earliest opportunity.


This module is offered on the following courses: