It’s hard to write about Britain, the (not very) United Kingdom, the British Isles, the ‘unnameable archipelago’: England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, the other bits, the tax havens and principalities; those who want out, of this and that, and those who want in.
This module attends principally to the development of the contemporary British literature of nature and place, urban and suburban as well as rural, and in doing so must navigate the politics of ownership and belonging. We’ll read contemporary writing about the complexities of human relationships with place, beginning with the loaded question: where are you from?
Since part of the project of this module is that students should engage with and imagine themselves participants in the most recent writing, the themes of the module will vary a little from year to year, but we will be consistent in attending to the writing of urban space and the interrogation of traditional accounts of ‘the city’; to the cultural and literary significance of islands; to the borders and edges that fragment and contain our archipelago.
The activities of Coventry City of Culture may offer opportunities for students to approach their immediate environment in creative ways.
Week 1: introduction: Britain, the United Kingdom, the British Isles: Selected poems and essays
Week 2: Where are you from? Estates and selected essays
Week 3: writing workshop
Week 4: The Outrun
Week 5: Where do you belong? The Plot
Week 6: reading week
Week 7: Being outside: selected essays
Week 8: Waterlog
Week 9: Where are you now? Writing workshop (Coventry/campus)
Week 10: Who belongs here? The Good Immigrant and other readings
Lynsey Hanley, Estates
Amy Liptrot, The Outrun
Madeleine Bunting, The Plot
Roger Deakin, Waterlog
Ed. Nikesh Shukla, The Good Immigrant