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Comparative literature, cultural studies and critical theory

Centre for Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies

Director: Dr Christopher Worth

Graduate coordinator: Associate Professor Andrew Milner

The centre is an interdepartmental and interdisciplinary teaching unit, maintained by the Faculty of Arts, with responsibility for teaching and research in three main areas of work: comparative literature, cultural studies and critical theory.

Comparative literature investigates literature in ways which go beyond particular national or linguistic boundaries. Comparative literary studies are of two main kinds: substantive studies of the literature of two or more languages or literary cultures; and generalising studies of the literary process itself, for example literary history, the sociology of literature, philosophy and literature.

Cultural studies looks at cultural texts, spaces and practices, including texts that are not normally included in the canon of high literature (the texts of popular fiction, television or cinema, for example), and studies these in relation to the various social, historical and ideological contexts in which cultures manifest themselves.

Critical theory is a term which has come to signify a number of contemporary approaches to textual and cultural theory, for example, hermeneutics, structuralism, semiotics, poststructuralism, theories of ideology, psychoanalytic theory, and so on. Such theories have also been central to, for instance, recent work in anthropology, English, feminism, performance studies, philosophy and film studies.

The centre has its own staff but also draws on the expertise of other departments to offer teaching and supervision in these interdisciplinary areas. The range of topics and fields of interest currently available for study in the centre is indicated below in the list of staff participating in the centre and in the available MA subjects. Amongst the topics in which the centre has particularly strong research interests and groups of postgraduates are the following: AIDS studies; cultural studies and cultural theory; deconstruction; feminist critical theory; hermeneutics; literature and philosophy; poststructuralism; poststructuralist literary theory; psychoanalytical theory; science fiction and theories of cyber culture.

At the graduate level the centre provides supervision for PhD and MA degrees by research. The centre also offers an MA by research and coursework in critical and cultural theory. Courses may be taken full or part-time.

Prospective graduate students whose research interests are within the three general areas described above are invited to address their preliminary inquiries to the graduate coordinator of the centre.

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