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Moderns EN2045

This course considers a range of textual forms typical of the modern and contemporary period, being concerned with poetry, fiction and drama in the 20th/21st centuries.

The course will develop your understanding of change and continuity in the literary culture of the period, provide a context for the application of a wide range of critical approaches to the literature of the period, and enable you to handle with confidence a range of terms used in contemporary readings of 20th and 21st century literature (terms such as ‘modern’, ‘postmodern’, ‘postcolonial’ and so on).

Learning outcomes

If you complete the course successfully, you should:

  • Have detailed knowledge of key moments in the development of literature in the 20th/21st centuries
  • Show critical understanding of how the literature of the 20th/21st centuries is connected to the historical, social and cultural contexts in which it was/is written
  • Have an enhanced ability to use and develop appropriate critical concepts
  • Have an enhanced ability to critically engage with specific texts

Essential reading

Among topics which students may study are:

  • the definition and function of terms such as ‘modern’, ‘modernism’, ‘postmodernism’
  • the effects of war and technological change on literary production
  • the link between art and politics
  • the proletarian novel
  • feminist drama
  • regional literatures (such as Scottish poetry or Caribbean novels)
  • the fiction of empire
  • poetry of the First World War
  • postmodern fiction
  • author-based studies

Among authors whose work students may choose to study are:

  • Virginia Woolf
  • Joseph Conrad
  • James Joyce
  • Ezra Pound
  • TS Eliot
  • WB Yeats
  • WH Auden
  • Aldous Huxley
  • Evelyn Waugh
  • Earl Lovelace
  • George Barker
  • Philip Larkin
  • Sylvia Plath
  • George Orwell
  • Lewis Jones
  • John Somerfield
  • John Osborne
  • Alan Sillitoe
  • John Braine
  • Muriel Spark
  • Harold Pinter
  • Kurt Vonnegut
  • Vladimir Nabokov
  • JG Farrell
  • Jean Rhys
  • Samuel Beckett
  • Doris Lessing
  • John Fowles
  • Amos Tutuola
  • Angela Carter