From Modernism to the Contemporary (TRU2011)

StaffDr Natalie Pollard - Convenor
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15
NQF Level6
Pre-requisites120 credits at level 1; normally at least two modules
from TRU1100, TRU1101, TRU1103, TRU1104
Duration of Module Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module aims

This module will introduce the student to a range of literary texts from the beginning of the twentieth century to the present day. In so doing, it will familiarize the student with broad literary movements and cultural tendencies as well as responses to these movements. The module begins with an exploration of the stylistic experimentation of the modernist movement in British literature. It will focus on the modernist sense of social fragmentation, and the ensuing struggle to redefine the individual's position with regard to religion, myth and history, along with a range of developments in modernist studies that have sought to interrogate modernism from the perspectives of gender, race class and sexuality. The second half of the course will move on to examine some of the literary forms that have characterized the later part of the twentieth century until the present day, including postmodernist, feminist and postcolonial literatures. Particular emphasis will be placed on the social contexts of such literature looking at its response to some of the central issues of late modernity and contemporary culture.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Demonstrate informed appreciation of specific modern literary texts and authors.
  • 2. Demonstrate an in depth understanding of key trends and shifts in twentieth- and twentyfirst- century thought.
  • 3. Demonstrate a nuanced engagement with key literary approaches to the literature of the period.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 4. Demonstrate an ability to analyse this and to relate its concerns and its modes of expression to its historical context.
  • 5. Demonstrate an ability to interrelate texts and discourses specific to their own discipline with issues in the wider context of cultural and intellectual history.
  • 6. Demonstrate an ability to understand and analyse relevant theoretical ideas, and to apply these ideas to literary texts.

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 7. Through seminar work, demonstrate communication skills, and an ability to work both individually and in groups.
  • 8. Through essay-writing, demonstrate appropriate research and bibliographic skills, a capacity to construct a coherent, substantiated argument, and a capacity to write clear and correct prose.
  • 9. Through research for seminars and essays, demonstrate proficiency in information retrieval and analysis.
  • 10. Through sitting their final examination, demonstrate proficiency in the use of memory and in the development, organization, and expression of ideas under pressure of time.

Syllabus plan

Week 1: Introduction

Week 2: Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness (1902); Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart (1958)

Week 3 James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1914);

Week 4: Sylvia Townsend Warner, Lolley Willowes, Or the Loving Huntsman (1926); Nella Larsen, Passing (1929)

Week 5: Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse (1927)

Week 6: Elizabeth Bowen, The Heat of the Day (1948)

Week 7: Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot (1952)

Week 8: Sylvia Plath, Ariel (1965); Alice Walker, Once (1968)

Week 9: Joan Didion, A Book of Common Prayer (1977)

Week 10: J.M. Coetzee, Disgrace (1999) Week 11: Students’ Vote

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities11Lecture (11x1hr)
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities27.5Seminar (11x2.5hrs)
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities11Study group (11x1hr)
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities250.5Private study

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Short Essay1000 words1-3, 5-6, 8-9Coversheet (written)

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
essay502000 words1-9Coversheet (written)
exam502 hours1-7, 8-10Coversheet (written)

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
essayEssay 2,000 words1-9referral/deferral period
examexam 2hours1-7, 8-10referral/deferral period

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Indicative basic reading

• Selection of Modernist and twentieth-century poetry and poet’s essays

• Ezra Pound, Literary Essays of Ezra Pound, ed. by T.S. Eliot (New Directions, 1968)

• T.S. Eliot, The Sacred Wood: Essays on Poetry and Criticism (Faber & Faber, 1997)

• Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness (Penguin, 2000) *

• Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart (Penguin, 2006) *

• James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (Penguin Popular Classics, 1996) *

• Sylvia Townsend Warner, Lolley Willowes (Virago, 1993)

• Nella Larsen, Quicksand and Passing (Serpent’s Tail, 2014)

• Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse (Penguin, 2000) *

• Elizabeth Bowen, The Heat of the Day (Faber, 2009)

• Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot (Faber & Faber, 2000)

• Sylvia Plath, Ariel (Faber, 2001)

• Alice Walker, Once: Poems (1968) also in Collected Poems: Her Blue Body Everything We Know: Earthling Poems 1965-1990 (2005)

• Joan Didion, A Book of Common Prayer (Fourth Estate, 2011) *

• J.M. Coetzee, Disgrace (Vintage, 2000) *

• Twentieth-century and twentieth-first century texts: student vote * indicates longer novels that you would do well to begin reading over the summer vacation

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Key words search

English Literature, Contemporary literature, British, American, South African, twentieth-century literature, twenty-first-century literature, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, nationality, Modernism