Studying an MA

Studying an MA

So this post is a little bit different and I guess it’s a bit more personal as well. Over the next twelve months I will be undertaking an MA in English Studies, and as its going to inevitably crop up quite a lot on the blog I thought I would explain my motivation for continuing with education as well as what I will be doing on the course. Let me know what you think of this post – if you find it interesting then I will potentially keep the blog updated with how my studies are going.


Just a few of the books/films I’ve bought from my reading list so far.

 I graduated this summer and since then the question that everyone asks is, ‘So have you found a job yet?’ When I say that I miss university, and intend to study further most of them think that I’m joking. It seems that after three years of studying many people have had enough of it, or are just tired of being poor and are ready to take on a full-time job. However I’ve worked throughout my degree, and I think that as the three years of English and Philosophy progressed I felt increasingly more fulfilled by my studies but also by balancing them with a job. I’ve always enjoyed writing and researching but it is only in my third year that I realised just how much pleasure I took in doing so, my dissertation was one of the most exciting things I’ve ever done (is that really lame?) which made me think it was feasible that academia could be a career path. So that is what this year is all about, furthering my enjoyment of studying and hopefully discovering if academia is the place for me!

For the MA that I chose to take, as it is a taught course it offers the option to specialise in one of two pathways these being The Gothic or Contemporary Literature and Film.  Initially I didn’t think I was going to specialise in either, and instead take a more general pathway – however after looking at the various modules I have opted to take the Contemporary Literature and Film pathway. Therefore this autumn the two modules I will be studying are:

Representing Contemporary Cultures 1:

This unit begins with the sense of how difficult it is to define the ‘contemporary’ and does through by exploring which events have shaped our perception and definition of the contemporary. Postmodernism is explored, and then post-postmodernism leading up to the events of 9/11 and the dramatic affect that they have had upon literature and film. I’ve studied the postmodern already on my undergrad course, but really didn’t get on with it – however I think that it will be really interesting to see how it changes and develops through world events. The film that is going to be used for this first unit is Pulp Fiction, one of my favourite films so I think that studying that will be particularly interesting.

Contemporary Queer Cultures:

This unit analyses the ways in which same-sex desire is expressed, represented and received in contemporary cultures. The last two decades saw a shift away from the recently consolidated concept of gay ‘identity politics’ to a more material concept of ‘queerness’, and ‘queerly negotiated’ reading practices gained academic respectability. The politics of same-sex desires stretched to include transsexuality, bisexuality, and a range of other non-normative activities. A politics of assimilation was, in part, replaced by a politics of the margins. The ‘gay movement’ was also radicalised through the recognition of AIDS. Arguably we are now entering the era of the ‘post-gay’. This unit addresses these issues, and texts may be selected from film, television, literature or culture more broadly. Areas for study include: the impact and representation of AIDS; Queer politics vs Gay Identity politics; the development of New Queer Cinema; ‘queer spectatorship’; the commodification of same-sex desire; the concept of the ‘Post-Gay’.

I have to admit to copying and pasting that last section from the unit handbook, I think that this module is going to be extremely challenging – I wrote about the aesthetics of gay identity in my dissertation, however this is an ever-growing area of study and there is so much information to take in. It’s the module I am most excited to get underway, and I have loads of films to watch for it!

Alongside these there are research modules and literature reviews to be cracking on with and  the year concludes with original research dissertation which you present to the rest of the the MA students. As you might have gathered from my descriptions of the modules, I am challenging myself with what I am studying this year, some of it is relatively new territory and I know that my work is going to have to be of an extremely high standard. But like I said, I love studying and I think that this year is going to be great fun. My main challenge is going to be organisation, my notes for the whole three years of university were basically a box stuffed full of paper – but I don’t think that’s going to cut it somehow. So I plan to have a Dictaphone and type up lecture notes after each session, thus going over it all twice effectively. Hopefully that will help me keep on top of things!!

Do let me know if any of you are planning to do an MA, I’d love to meet some people in the same boat as me. And chuck any study/organisation tips my way; god knows it’s going to be a struggle! Hope you enjoyed this little post; I will keep you up to date with how everything is going.



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