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Language and creativity

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This module looks at creativity in the English language around the world: from everyday contexts to ‘high culture’ literary language and the impact of new media. You will investigate the relationships between language and other modes such as image, movement, music and dance, and also explore developments resulting from the rise of social media, which is having a profound effect on the uses of language in society. The module will give a detailed understanding of what linguistic creativity is, how it is used, and the issues it raises, while also helping you to consider your own daily experiences of the English language.

What you will study

The module is relevant to anyone with a general interest in the English language and how it is used by speakers, writers and producers of multimodal texts in creative ways; or in specific areas of language study such as language and literature; language and media; or children’s language. It is also relevant to teachers and others with a professional interest in English.

The module is divided into the following three main sections:

Creativity in Language: from Everyday Style to Verbal Art
The first section explores the fundamental role played by creativity in the way we express ourselves in both everyday and literary contexts. It examines how linguistic creativity is achieved, what effects it has, and how we can go about studying it. The approaches explored in this section range from those used in stylistics and sociolinguistics to literary studies, with examples taken from everyday contexts (such as conversations in the home or at work), through popular culture such as the sitcom, to ‘high culture’ literary language. It also looks at the effects that the recent rise of social media is having on the use of language in society, and the potential this opens up for new forms of linguistic and communicative play.

Narrative, language and creativity
This section brings together current ideas and research in narrative approaches and analysis from across a range of disciplines to address the following key questions: Why does narrative continue to play such a central role in our lives? What kinds of narrative practices are currently found in different areas of social and artistic life? How are narrative practices changing in the face of new multimedia possibilities and challenges? What analytical and theoretical frameworks are available to explore the current functions and significance of narrative in its many varied manifestations?

The politics of language and creativity in a globalised world
The final section explores the explosion in text ‘production’ activity across modes, media and technologies in contemporary society and examines how this historic shift is raising questions about what gets counted and valued as ‘creative’ linguistic and semiotic practice and why. Using examples including advertisements, political speeches, social media, poetry, pop songs and digital fiction, the section explores a number of key questions: In what ways is linguistic and semiotic ‘creativity’ a political phenomenon? How are creative acts shaped and constrained by political, social, economic and technological forces? How is linguistic and semiotic creativity currently being used as a resource for political activity, and why? How is the global status and use of English reconfiguring the nature of linguistic and semiotic practices and what gets evaluated as ‘creative’?

In exploring creativity across a range of genres and social contexts, this module provides a lively introduction to stylistic, sociolinguistic and multimodal analysis. It draws on work in literature, creative writing and performance studies as well as English language studies.

Entry requirements

This is an OU level 3 module. OU level 3 modules build on study skills and subject knowledge acquired from studies at OU levels 1 and 2. They are intended only for students who have recent experience of higher education in a related subject, preferably with the OU. Unless you have previous experience of studying the English language, or linguistics, language and literature or some other branch of language studies, you are advised to take this module after studying the OU level 2 module English in the world (L201) or its predecessor, Worlds of English (U214).

Some of the language used in this module may only be regarded as only suitable for adults. If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please speak to an adviser.

What's included

Module books, online study guide including embedded audio and video clips, module guide, other printed material, module website.

Computing requirements

You’ll need broadband internet access and a desktop or laptop computer with an up-to-date version of Windows (10 or 11) or macOS Ventura or higher.

Any additional software will be provided or is generally freely available.

To join in spoken conversations in tutorials, we recommend a wired headset (headphones/earphones with a built-in microphone).

Our module websites comply with web standards, and any modern browser is suitable for most activities.

Our OU Study mobile app will operate on all current, supported versions of Android and iOS. It’s not available on Kindle.

It’s also possible to access some module materials on a mobile phone, tablet device or Chromebook. However, as you may be asked to install additional software or use certain applications, you’ll also require a desktop or laptop, as described above.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will have a tutor who will help you with the study material and mark and comment on your written work, and whom you can ask for advice and guidance. We also offer online group tutorials that you are encouraged to participate in.

Contact us if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.


The assessment details for this module can be found in the facts box.

If you have a disability

The OU strives to make all aspects of study accessible to everyone and this Accessibility Statement outlines what studying E302 involves. You should use this information to inform your study preparations and any discussions with us about how we can meet your needs.

Future availability

Language and creativity (E302) starts once a year – in October.

This page describes the module that will start in October 2024.

We expect it to start for the last time in October 2027.

Course work includes:

4 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
End-of-module assessment

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