English and Theatre: Your Optional First-Year Modules
As a first year, one optional module out of four might feel a little restricting. However, having all first-year English and Theatre students take similar modules actually pays off by giving students the groundwork necessary for further research. Taking such broad modules can also help develop your own interests – there are a lot of genres that I never thought I’d be interested in, and a lot more that I’ve realised I would prefer to avoid!
But this blog post isn’t about those compulsory modules! This post is here to explain the optional modules available to English and Theatre students in first year. There are three to choose from, and each helps to broaden your understanding in a certain area of literature. Of course, this information is correct at the time of writing, and may change before you join Warwick. I also could only take one module, so I have tried to illustrate the ones I didn’t take to the best of my abilities!
From Text to Performance (FTTP)
I took FTTP in my first year, way back in 2019, and I absolutely loved it. This is currently the only optional module for first years offered by the Theatre department, and is also compulsory to all single-honours Theatre students. I based my decision to choose this module on three factors: the assessment was partially practical, it would be a good way to meet single-honours Theatre students, and taking it would mean my first year would be a 50-50 split between English and Theatre modules. Taking a module where part of the assessment was practical was a daunting thought, but I really wanted the opportunity to have assessments that weren’t entirely essay-based! When I took this module, the entire course focused on Shakespeare’s Hamlet, and how various productions mould the text into performance. For the first term we focused solely on Hamlet itself, whereas Term 2 looked into adaptations of the text. These included plays like The Secret Love Life of Ophelia and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, while also giving us the opportunity to develop our own adaptations. This year’s module has changed the focal play, looking in-depth at Antigone instead of Hamlet. The content may well change again before you join, but is likely to be a classic play with many adaptations.
My favourite parts of this module were:
- The assessment. A director’s pitch, a practical assessment, and a critical review of our work? An absolute dream! It was so fun to get creative and experience different ways of assessment at university. The first two assessments were also group-based, which was such a brilliant chance to work with students from other degrees!
- Focusing only on one story. This is a real rarity at university! It was so lovely to be able to analyse one play in depth, looking at both the text and contextual factors to performance. This certainly helped provide me with analytical skills that I have used in other modules.
Modes of Reading (Modes)
This is the most popular optional module for first year English and Theatre students, and is one I nearly chose myself! Modes covers four central units: narrative, poetics, performance, and image. This means the module covers the entire range of mediums that you might come across during your time at university, and gives you the tools to understand them. Modes is designed to form the perfect foundation for your university studies, teaching you how to think critically and academically about a resource, while using theory from academics to enhance your own writing. Some resources currently on this module include The Gathering, a novel by Anne Enright, the Grammy award-winning album The ArchAndroid by Janelle Monáe, and the comic strip Here by Richard McGuire.
Epic into Novel (Epic)
Epic does exactly what it says on the tin: follows the literary transition from epics into novels. This module features epic poems such as The Iliad, The Mahabharata, and Paradise Lost, ranging across cultures and languages. Of course, featuring such long narratives means that this module is quite text-heavy, but is perfect for people with a particular interest in classics and their subsequent literary influence. The module then transitions into comparatively more recent novels, such as George Eliot’s Middlemarch and Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o’s A Grain of Wheat. Epic is particularly great for those that know they are interested in the epic or novel form, as it gives you a great basis for your later studies in those areas.
Want to understand more about the English and Theatre compulsory modules? Check out my blog post here: