A very warm welcome to new students joining the Department of English this Autumn!
The events of the last two years have prompted re-evaluation of the status quo around the world. Many of us have found ourselves asking fundamental questions about how we live our day-to-day lives, the value of community, the meaning of identity, and the legacies of the past in the present. More and more, we have also been reflecting on and what the future might hold for our society and culture.
Becoming a student in the Department of English here at the University of Bristol means becoming part of a thriving international academic community, which is actively participating in these ongoing debates. We are passionate about bringing ever more people into these conversations, because we believe that literature has helped shape what our world was in the past, that studying literaturehelps us understand what it is now, and, most importantly, that understanding the power of literature can helps us collectively imagine what our world might become in the future.
A community of scholars
The Bristol English community is large and varied. As a student, you will have the chance to collaborate with academic staff and students – undergraduate and postgraduate, full-time, part-time and visiting, local and international – who together make Bristol English a friendly, supportive, and intellectually stimulating place to be. You will meet people with shared and very different interests and experiences, across our single-honours English programme and joint-honours programmes with Philosophy, Classical Studies, History, Theatre, Film, and Modern Languages, as well as the part-time English Literature and Community Engagement BA and intercalated BA in Medical Humanities. Whoever you are, and wherever you come from, our academic and support staff will provide you with all the guidance, encouragement, and academic support you need along the way.
World-leading literary studies experts have developed and teach on the English Department’s dynamic undergraduate curriculum. Our teaching is ‘research-led’, which means that we integrate the latest developments in our field with expert knowledge of the literature. You will study an exciting range of authors and texts, from Anglo Saxon and Medieval, through to the 21st century. Some of our specialisms as a department include: African, World and Comparative Literatures; Creative Writing; American and African American Literature; Modernism; Black British Literature; Medieval, Early Modern, Romantic, Victorian, 20th-Century and Contemporary Literature. Our approaches include Medical Humanities, Animal Studies, Digital Humanities, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Environmental Humanities, Global Feminisms, and Print Culture Studies (we even have 3 historic printing presses on campus!). Because we deeply value perspectives from other disciplines, our units will place English literature in relation to art, music, film, philosophy, material culture, politics, the sea, and science, amongst many others.
We are proud of the quality of our teaching and research, and so encourage our students to be questioning, imaginative, resourceful readers -- to develop your own sense of what you believe literature to be, and to draw on knowledge of earlier debates, while refusing to accept received critical opinion unthinkingly. You will have opportunities to hone your own interests and specialisms and develop new ones, as you experience a range of innovative teaching approaches. Our academic tutors are passionate about helping students to craft their own research ideas, from group presentations in your first year through to your final-year dissertation.
Teaching in the Autumn term
There remains, unfortunately, a degree of uncertainty to embarking on a degree programme in Autumn 2021. The University is working to keep its information up to date, so you can check on the latest developments on our plans for teaching in 2021/22. Over the last year our staff have worked tremendously hard to provide high quality, well-structured blended learning that our students have found valuable, meaningful and rewarding. We continue as a department to believe that on-campus teaching, especially intimate small-group discussion, is crucial for our discipline, and so we are committed to providing the best possible balance of online and on-campus learning.
In short, studying English at Bristol remains a wonderful opportunity to flourish intellectually and personally. During your time with us, you can expect to make great strides not only in your literary knowledge, but also in a range of skills and aptitudes – analytical and evaluative capacities, writing and communication skills, creativity and problem-solving skills, ability to work independently and in teams, professional skills and employability – and of course confidence.
We very much look forward to welcoming you this Autumn.
Dr Samantha Matthews
Head of Department
To prepare for your first year with us, we have some suggestions for you. Click on the link for more info.