UNIVERSITY OF THE WITWATERSRAND, JOHANNESBURG

Undergraduate Course Information

We focus on the study of world literature in English. This means that you examine and discuss novels, short stories, plays, poems, fi lm and television programmes. You will consider how these texts are put together, and ask searching questions about the ways in which they relate to the time and place in which they originated, and the time and the place in which they are received. In the process, you will develop your writing and reasoning skills, gaining not just an understanding of literatures in English, but developing your ability to use language effectively. We have a strong seminar component to all our courses, so there are opportunities for debate and conversation in small groups. From second year onward, you will be able to choose from an exciting array of electives within each module. This means that as your study advances, you have more choice in shaping your curriculum and more opportunity to read what you enjoy most. Below is a brief description of what we offer in the three years of undergraduate study:

First year (100-level)

The fi rst-year course comprises the study of Indian, South African, American, and Renaissance literature. It introduces you to the fi eld of literary studies, demonstrating the importance of both close reading and contextualization. You will study a range of contemporary and older novels, fi lms, plays and poems.

Second year (200-level)

Here your choice becomes greater. Broadly, you will look at Medieval, Renaissance, Eighteenth-Century and Romantic literature. In each course, though, there are electives from which you can select an area of focus. Although this year of study begins your historical overview of literatures in English, each course is concerned with both a period and the ways in which the literature of that period has inspired various adaptations in different epochs and in different contexts. The study of medievalism, for instance, includes the study of JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings.

Third year (300-level)

In this year, you will consider Victorian, Modernist, Postmodern and Postcolonial writing which will bring the full canon of English literature, conceived in its widest sense, up to date. Again, a range of electives is offered that encourage students to emphasize the work of specifi c writers, or specifi c modes or themes. The third year of study brings the historical survey of literature into the present and acknowledges the diversity and complexity of the globalized contemporary literary institution. Students in this year are strongly encouraged to pursue their own interests and to undertake small-scale research projects. Our discipline co-operates with African Literature and Applied English Language Studies. It is possible to substitute a module from one of these fi elds for one of our modules or you may choose a module from another cognate discipline. Again, you can shape your curriculum to suit your interests.