Futures: Unbundling the Now ENGLIT5121

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Critical Studies
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Either Semester 1 or Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

Futures exist in the current moment as potent narratives, drawing on rhetorical, aesthetic, and symbolic strategies for their persuasive power. They shape the trajectory of the present and determine who gets to inhabit the future and under what conditions. This course interrogates the variety of present futures: how they are made, by whom and for whom. Across ten weeks we will examine black radical, queer, feminist, indigenous and dominant futures and the ways they engage with different modes of imagining futures from infrastructure and scenario planning to Afropessimism and counter-apocalypse.


8 x 1hr lectures; 8 x 1.5hr seminars over ten weeks as scheduled on MyCampus. This is one of the MLitt options in English Literature and may not run every year. The options that are running this session are available on MyCampus.

Requirements of Entry

Standard entry to Masters at College level.

Excluded Courses

Futures: Unbundling the Now (UG Version)




2 x 7min presentations each accompanied by a mini-archival collection: 20% each

Seminar Contribution: 10%

Essay (3500 words): 50%

Main Assessment In: April/May

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? No

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which contribute to the Honours classification. Where, exceptionally, reassessment on Honours courses is required to satisfy professional/accreditation requirements, only the overall course grade achieved at the first attempt will contribute to the Honours classification. For non-Honours courses, students are offered reassessment in all or any of the components of assessment if the satisfactory (threshold) grade for the overall course is not achieved at the first attempt. This is normally grade D3 for undergraduate students and grade C3 for postgraduate students. Exceptionally it may not be possible to offer reassessment of some coursework items, in which case the mark achieved at the first attempt will be counted towards the final course grade. Any such exceptions for this course are described below.

Course Aims

This course aims to:

■ Map the contemporary histories and practices of future-making.

■ Critically and independently engage with the methods and contexts of narrative futures.

■ Identify literary and rhetorical strategies in the practice of future-making and interrogate how they draw on and shape narrative techniques of realism, speculation, plausibility, and agency.

■ Outline connections between dominant and institutionalised practices of future-making and their broader impact on contemporary society and culture with a particular focus on the themes of gender, race, climate, and justice.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course, students will be able to:

■ Identify and critically assess the influence of discourses of futurity in popular culture and policy.

■ Critically contextualise and historicise the practices of future-making.

■ Engage critically with distinct theoretical approaches to futurity, including critical race studies, queer theory, infrastructure studies, and critical futures studies.

■ Conduct independent research and develop advanced academic skills in analysis, writing, editing, and argumentation through written and oral assessments.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.