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ENGL3089 Literatures of Islands and Oceans

Module Overview

We tend to assume our world is shaped by the geographies of continents and nation-states. This module allows us to grasp the significance of other places and spaces. Exploring how islands and oceans, ports and ships, deep water and coastal zones have been imagined, we will reach for an understanding of the ways in which long traditions of literatures written in English have been configured by apparently marginal geographies. This focus will further enable us to apprehend the broader historical, political and cultural importance of islands and oceans.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

- introduce you to a range of writings about islands and oceans, - equip you with a critical vocabulary to interpret literary texts about islands and oceans, - provide historical and cultural contexts for reading texts about islands and oceans.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • a long history (early 18th century to the present) of writing in English that has engaged with island and ocean geographies,
  • the relationship between colonial and postcolonial texts about islands and oceans,
  • the different mythical and contemporary resonances that island and ocean geographies have within different cultures at different times,
  • critical theory around island and oceans—particularly works that challenge national and continental based approaches to cultural production.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • write with sensitivity about cultural and social experiences which may be different to your own,
  • discuss complex issues in a clear and sophisticated way that is sensitive to the views of others,
  • bring together different genres of writing, and discuss them in depth,
  • work in a small group towards oral presentations,
  • deliver formal and informal oral presentations in a concise and clear manner.
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • conduct independent research using tools and resources available via the library and the internet
  • present both written and oral arguments about literature that place it in a broad historical, cultural and theoretical context.
Cognitive Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • conduct comparisons of texts from different periods in history and produced from different geographical locations,
  • reflect upon the ways in which the representation of islands and oceans impacts the representation of gender, class, race and nation,
  • draw upon critical theory engaged with island and ocean geographies towards more general analysis of literature,
  • develop questions about literature that apprehend the importance of extra-continental sites of cultural production.


This module is divided into five themes: • The Age of Exploration, Brave New Worlds and Foundational Literary Texts • The Oceanic Sublime of the Romantic Imagination • Masters of the Ocean: Masculinity and the Ship as Microcosm. • Oceans and Islands in the Postcolonial Imagination. • Oceans and Islands in the Global Popular Imagination. Though these themes, we will move from iconic 18th century texts to recent films, from the birth of the novel to postcolonial politics, across the Atlantic, Mediterranean, Pacific and Indian Oceans, and through various smaller and larger island geographies.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include • lectures • teacher and student-led seminar discussions • in class writing exercises Learning activities include • preparing and delivering oral presentations • participating in small and all-group discussions • individual internet and library research This module includes a Learning Support Hour. This is a flexible weekly contact hour, designed to support and respond to the particular cohort taking the module from year to year. This hour will include (but not be limited to) activities such as language, theory and research skills classes; group work supervisions; assignment preparation and essay writing guidance; assignment consultations; feedback and feed-forward sessions.

Follow-up work8
Preparation for scheduled sessions58
Completion of assessment task40
Wider reading or practice8
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Primary readings. Primary readings for this module will include essays, prose fiction (novels and short stories), poetry and film. From year to year, this may include works by Daniel Defoe, Olaudah Equiano, Jonathan Swift, Herman Melville, Virginia Woolf, Joseph Conrad, W. H. Auden, Elizabeth Bishop, W. S. Graham, Rachel Carson, Derek Walcott, Kamau Brathwaite, Amitav Ghosh, Abdulrazak Gurnah, Romesh Gunesekera, Tim Winton, Jane Campion and/or Isaac Julien. Southampton is the UK’s leading university in the field of maritime studies. It is particularly wealthy in resources in this area across disciplines, including Humanities. The library’s collections are continually updated to expand and support maritime-related study.



MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (2000 words) 50%
Essay  (2000 words) 50%


MethodPercentage contribution
Exam  (2 hours) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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