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Unit information: U.S.Postmodernist Fiction in 2016/17

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Unit name U.S.Postmodernist Fiction
Unit code ENGLM0057
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Theo Savvas
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of English
Faculty Faculty of Arts


Postmodernism is a notoriously slippery term. In this course we shall approach both the notion of postmodernity a historical and cultural period usually seen as stretching from the 1960s to the 1990s  and postmodernism a tentative grouping of ideas, themes, and stylistic and narrative innovations from the perspective of U.S. fiction. Broken into four subsections - Breaking the Frame; Postmodernism and History; Technoculture and Other Postmodernisms: Race, Ethnicity and Gender - the course is designed to introduce students to a full array of U.S. postmodernist fictions, and to suggest ways in which postmodernism has developed. We will end by considering the waning influence of postmodernism in American letters and the possible contours of postpostmodernism. Each week we will look at a primary text and a secondary source which develops and complements ideas found in the primary.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this unit students will have (1) developed a detailed knowledge and critical understanding of U.S. postmodernist fiction and its relation to postmodernity; (2) in-depth understanding of the theoretical contexts that inform thinking and writing about postmodernity (3) demonstrated the ability to analyse and evaluate differing critical accounts of the primary literature; (4) demonstrated the ability to identify and evaluate pertinent evidence in order to illustrate/demonstrate a cogent argument; (5) strengthened skills in argumentation and academic writing.

Additionally (specific to level M), students will be expected to (6) display high level skills in evaluating, analysing, synthesising and (where apt) critiquing images and ideas; (7) apply existing analytical strategies to new evidence with flexibility and creativity; (8) demonstrate the capacity for independent research.

Teaching details

2-hour seminar weekly

Assessment Details

1 essay of 4,000 words which assesses the standards reached of the abilities and knowledge listed in learning objectives 1-7. Students will also be required to deliver a 1,000 word presentation.

Reading and References

  • Doctorow, E.L., Ragtime (1975)
  • Barth, John, Dunyazadiad from Chimera (1972)
  • Brautigan, Richard, Trout Fishing in America (1967)
  • Powers, Richard, Galatea 2.2 (1995)
  • Gibson, William, Neuromancer (1984)
  • Reed, Ishmael, Mumbo Jumbo (1972)