Master of Arts (MA) in Sociology of Literature

title-ma-in-the-sociology-of-literature

  • Are there instances of literary works anticipating future trends, but without there being a causal link?
  • Can literature be used to influence its own times and perhaps the future?
  • If so, how: to define and spread a national culture/identity or particular ideological, political views dear to the writer(s) in question?
  • Alternatively, if a given society wants to impose its religious or ideological standpoint on authors, how can the latter safeguard and express their independence?

If these questions tickle your intellectual side, you might be interested in the Warnborough MA in the Sociology of Literature!

Should we study a society in order to understand literature better or should we study literary works to learn about the society or age in which they were written?

Alternatively, if a given society wants to impose its religious or ideological standpoint on authors, how can the latter safeguard and express their independence?

Can literature be used to influence its own times and perhaps the future? If so, how: to define and spread a national culture/identity or particular ideological, political views dear to the writer(s) in question?

These are some of the questions which drive the sociology of literature, and are outlined in some of the modules listed below.

Those with a passion for examining the circumstance of literature, including writer’s reaction to (or creation of) socio-historical trends and the ideology of a text.

The MA program in the Sociology of Literature is suitable for students who intend to develop professional careers in a wide range of settings. It is useful for those wishing to pursue a literary career including writing, criticism and scholarly work. However the rigorous intellectual training that literary analysis provides has value and appeal to employers in areas such as: teaching (most likely at the college level), course development and curricula design, research, civil service, local government, charities, information technology, solicitor’s firms, publishing, journalism.

The series of research papers in this modular programme should enable students to reach a better understanding of the richness and multifaceted nature of literature, by examining some of the aspects of the complex relationship between literature and society.

Some writers have, through their works, tried to highlight social evils and injustices, while others have simply depicted their own times so vividly that they have left us an indelible record. In this regard, it is interesting that the social conditions of Nineteenth-Century England are often referred to as “Dickensian”.

And yet, when all is said and done, many authors tell us something of themselves and their lives — whether explicitly or interwoven in the fabric of their characters’ lives — and, perhaps, give us an insight into the inner workings of their hearts, minds and souls.

The modules given below should be regarded as guidelines, since the College does not exclude viable alternative themes proposed by students, subject to mentor and College approval. Individual modules may either be combined with those from other programmes, or transferred to courses in other institutions.

The Warnborough College Master of Arts (MA) Degree in Sociology of Literature by distance learning requires the completion of 120 ECTS Credits. The programme consists of 5 modules: 4 papers (to be chosen from the first 9 modules listed below) and a dissertation.
Students should submit: four papers (of between 7,000 to 8,000 words each, worth 20 credits each) — chosen from sections 1 to 9 below — and a dissertation (of 15,000 words, worth 40 credits) on any topic, subject to mentor approval.

Students do have the option of suggesting other acceptable topics, for the four papers, subject to the approval of the mentor and the University. The writers or literary works considered may be from different geographical areas or periods.

Modules

1. The Impact of Society on Literature:
(a) The impact of society on literature.
(b) Literature and the environment from which it emerges.

2. Literature and Symbolism:
Literary works, both in terms of style and content, as repositories of:
(a) the symbolism of the collective imagination of a given age,
(b) a society’s changing codes and symbols.

3. Literature as a means of communication:
(a) To what extent literature is or has been affected by its role as a means of communication.
(b) The historical, evolving nature of aesthetic value.

4. Literature and national identity:
(a) Literature as a vehicle for defining and spreading national culture/identity and/or political or religious views.
(b) Literature’s relationship with the prevailing ideology (e.g. political and/or religious).
In each of the above sections, a paper may be written on (a) or (b), or both.

5. Literature and the “spirit of the age”:
Literature as an expression of the Hegelian “zeitgeist” or “spirit of the age”.

6. Literature and causal factors:
(a) a “passive” mirror of past and present,
(b) an “active” contemporary or future influence,
(c) foreshadowing future trends, but without a causal link.
Students may select any one of these options, or any combination.

7. Evaluating Literary Texts:
Evaluating a literary text in its historical context or as an autonomous work.

8. Literature and Society:
The study of a society in order to better understand literature or the converse.

9. The Social Functions of Literature.

10. Dissertation:
Of 15,000 words, on any topic, subject to the mentor’s approval.

The satisfactory presentation of four research papers and a dissertation will lead to the award of the Master of Arts (MA) Degree in Sociology of Literature.

The Program will be conducted by distance learning, through self-paced research, under the guidance of the Program Director.

Dr. Mazhar’s degree in Italian (B.A., London) was followed by an M.Phil.(London) on Giacomo Zanella: his poetica, poetry and historical significance. Dr. Mazhar’s Ph.D. (Liverpool) on the “Catholic Attitudes to Evolution in Nineteenth-Century Italian Literature” was published, in Venice, by the Veneto Institute of Sciences, Letters and Arts. His research interests include: literary criticism, Science-Faith issues, the History of Ideas in a literary context and the role of literature in relation to society, science, philosophy and theology. He has prepared MA and PhD modular research programmes for the History of Ideas and the Sociology of Literature, as well as a Master of Arts Degree in Bioethics: “A Historical Perspective”.