Summer School: English Literature

Browse our English Literature modules below, part of the School of Media, Arts and Humanities. If you're unsure what to study this summer, follow our top tips for how to choose a module.

Students in English seminar

Browse our modules

You can see our full list of English Literature modules below.

Session One

1 July - 19 July 2024

  • The Age of Adolescence: Reading 20th Century Youth Culture

    Module code: IS407

    This module will explore representations of adolescence from the early 20th through to the early 21st century in literature, film and popular culture. We will read texts that range across history, psychology, and writings about juvenile delinquency, but our focus will be on reading novels, short stories, films and graphic novels, that represent the paradoxes of adolescence from the turn of the 20th century. This may include such works as: Back to the Future, Ghost World, Spring Breakers, The Hate U Give, and more.

    We will look at the ways in which the adolescent morphs into the teenage consumer in the 1950s in novels such as Colin MacInnes’s Absolute Beginners. We will consider the adolescent as a site of cultural fantasy and cultural fears in relation to class, race, gender, and sexuality and the adolescent’s relationship to radical politics, subculture, suburbia, and nostalgia.

    If you are interested in literary figures and novels that have pushed boundaries on the representation of adolescence, then this module is for you. This module will provide a theoretical introduction for students wishing to explore a career in film production, youth literature and education sectors. For your assessed portfolio, you can write in a combination of critical and creative ways, depending on your own preferences

    On this experiential module, we will explore how Brighton has been central for pushing boundaries and creating new waves in the medium of literature and film. We will develop a deeper understanding of the construction of the categories of the adolescent and the teenagers in literature, film and theory. This module may include a field trip to Brighton, following the trail of cult movie Quadrophenia.

    Learning outcomes:

    • Demonstrate knowledge of the history of, and an ability to evaluate, 20th-21st century fiction, film and theory
    • Develop an understanding of the construction of the categories of the adolescent and the teenager in literature, film and theory
    • Analyse literature, film, and other discourses, and to dissect rhetoric and understand meanings
    • Develop an argument from close reading and data interpretation.

    Teaching method: Fieldwork, seminars and workshops
    Assessment: 90% portfolio, 10% observation
    Contact hours: 40 hours 
    Credits: 15 Sussex Credits
    Level: 4

  • Video Games: Creative and Critical Writing

    Module code: IS403

    In recent years the gaming industry has been transformed by the addition of auteur-driven indie games to those of AAA studios with Hollywood budgets, as well as by the diversity of technology on which games can be played. We will study examples of successful imagined worlds (Zelda: Breath of the Wild), powerful storytelling (The Last of Us), literary games (Kentucky Route Zero), indie games (Braid), micro-Indies (Problem Attic) and classic adventure games (Monkey Island), amongst others.

    We will explore the possibilities of play, world-building, narrative, character-design, game mechanics, and game dynamics. Technical understanding of the medium will provide us with an array of opportunities for writing and imagining video games: composing narratives and shooting-scripts; creating avatars; developing fictional worlds. We will introduce you to some game development software, though this module is not designed as a coding course. It is ideal for students looking beyond the surface of video games, wanting to engage with thoughtful critique of an emerging industry. We will reflect on the social implications of game design, taking into account discourses around gender, race and sexuality.

    A guest lecture may be offered by an industry expert.

    Learning outcomes:

    • Understand and experiment with common practices of creative writing across multiple computer/video game genres
    • Reflect critically on the social implications of game design, taking into account discourses around gender, race, and sexuality
    • Communicate the results of critical reflection in a collegial group discussion
    • Evaluate the appropriateness of different approaches to solving problems when relating the creative aspect of game design to critical reflection on the social aspects of games

    Teaching method: Workshops
    Assessment: 90% portfolio, 10% observation
    Contact hours: 40 hours 
    Credits: 15 Sussex Credits
    Level: 4

Session Two 

22 July – 9 August 2024

  • Children’s Literature

    Module code: IS408

    Our most loved books are often those we read in childhood; they stay with us through later life. This module provides a space to think differently when addressing often beloved texts.

    George Orwell once wrote that ‘many people who would consider themselves extremely sophisticated and “advanced” are actually carrying through life an imaginative background which they acquired in childhood.’ This module examines the political lessons children’s books encode about what childhood is, and about which children matter and why. We will read children’s texts from a range of genres and forms—including fantasy, school stories, picturebooks, and domestic fiction—written between the late eighteenth century and the present day. We consider issues of agency, gender, race, class, and the environment. The final assessment optionally involves creative writing for children and for your assessed portfolio, you can write in a combination of critical and creative ways, depending on your own preferences.

    This module is ideal for students with a background in the Humanities, English, Art, or History, as we study a variety of mediums. We will consider the role of illustration, watch classic film adaptations, and read seminal works by authors which may include Lewis Carroll, Neil Gaiman, C. S. Lewis, Beatrix Potter and Harriet Beecher Stowe. These works will be illuminated in discussions in small group seminars.

    Restrictions permitting, we will also conduct two fieldwork trips, which may include a visit to The Foundling Museum in Bloomsbury and the world-famous Victoria & Albert Museum in Kensington, London.

    Learning outcomes:

    • To understand the history of children’s literature from the eighteenth century to the present day
    • To critically evaluate how children’s texts encode political messages, including messages about gender, race, and social class
    • To gain experience in analyzing word-image texts, including picturebooks
    • To effectively communicate detailed analyses of children’s books through creative and critical writing

    Teaching method: Workshop, fieldwork and tutorials
    Assessment: 100% portfolio
    Contact hours: 40 hours
    Credits: 15 Sussex Credits
    Level: 4

  • Gender and Sexual Dissidence across the Arts - NOT RUNNING IN 2024

    Module code: IS405

    Unfortunately this module is not running for the 2024 Undergraduate Summer School. Check back here for details of the 2025 Undergraduate Summer School Programme later in the year.

    The University of Sussex has been a pioneer in the study of gender and sexuality for over thirty years. Sussex academics Alan Sinfield and Jonathan Dollimore pioneered the first graduate course in Sexual Dissidence in the 1960s. This module stems from our world-leading Centre of Sexual Dissidence.

    Throughout this module, we will reflect on individuals and cultures that have at one time been considered (and are sometimes happy to be considered) aberrant, not “normal”. The module balances questions of identity (who we are, who we think we are, who others think we are) with questions of desire and sexual aim (who – or what – we are attracted to, if anything). This module asks you to focus on one question throughout: should we understand ourselves, and be understood in turn, as sexual and gendered identities; “straight”, “queer”, “female”, “heterosexual”, etc., or by our attachments; who we love, who we desire?

    Emphasis will be placed on works from Britain or from the British post-colonial diaspora and we will examine mediums including literature, art, and film.

    You do not need any knowledge of theories of gender and sexuality in advance, only an open mind. The module would, however, be helpful for those going on to study literature, film, media, art history, sociology, history, amongst other academic disciplines and would appeal to those interested in Gender Theory.

    The module may include a fieldtrip to the home of filmmaker, theatre practitioner, and writer Derek Jarman (1942 – 1994) at Dungeness.

    The final day of this module coincides with the start of the Brighton LGBTQ+ Pride-weekend, the most popular Gay Pride event in the UK.

    Learning outcomes:

    • Demonstrate knowledge of the history of sexual identities through readings of culture and theory, and to understand the distinction between theories of identity and theories of sexual aim
    • To reflect critically on cultural phenomena that challenge normative notions of sexual and gender identities, and that provide evidence of non-normative sexual aims
    • To communicate the results of critical reflection in a collegial group presentation
    • Develop an argument from close reading and historical context.

    Teaching method: Fieldwork, seminars and workshops
    Assessment: 90% portfolio, 10% observation
    Contact hours: 40 hours 
    Credits: 15 Sussex Credits
    Level: 4

Not sure how to choose?

Follow our top tips for choosing your modules. You can also find out about our teaching structure, assessment process and how your credits transfer back to your home institution.

Find out more.

The University of Sussex reserves the right to cancel modules due to staff availability, student demand, minimum enrolment, or updates to our curriculum. We’ll make sure to let our applicants know of such changes to modules at the earliest opportunity.

Which school will I study in?

You'll study in the English department, which is part of the School of Media, Arts and Humanities. 

Many of our staff have won academic prizes and research awards.

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Our literature and language research

Staff at Sussex are working across a multitude of disciplines, informing critical theory and challenging assumptions about language and performance.

Our research influences the way we teach, and you learn from academics at the forefront of their fields.

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