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Unit information: Contemporary Literature in 2018/19

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Unit name Contemporary Literature
Unit code ENGLM0038
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Josie Gill
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of English
Faculty Faculty of Arts


Literature today is marked by its diversity. Globalisation, technology, terrorism, and ecological awareness have all shaped how writers are representing the world. At the same time, literature as a discipline has been reshaped by the emergence of new critical approaches, such as postcolonialism and postmodernism, and new theories of sexuality and gender, and race and ethnicity. In this unit we will consider a selection of primary texts written in English after 1970, and including prose and poetry, which address such issues. We will study a range of writers which may include Linton Kwesi Johnson, Zadie Smith, Salman Rushdie, Angela Carter, Geoffrey Hill, Tom McCarthy, Toni Morrison, Don DeLillo, Marilynne Robinson.

Intended learning outcomes

1. A broadened experience of the range and variety of writing from the period 1970 to the present.

2. Improved independent critical thinking about literature of the period.

3. A maturing ability to apply critical, social and cultural contexts to the discussion of contemporary writing.

4. Developing an appropriate style of critical writing for the discussion and analysis of contemporary writing in English.

5. Improving existing skills through independent reading, reasearch and writing on specific texts and topics.

Teaching details

8 x 2-hour seminar, 11 Consultation Hours

Assessment Details

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

Reading and References

Sarah Broom, 'Contemporary British and Irish Poetry: An Introduction' (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2005)

Peter Childs, 'Contemporary Novelists: British Fiction since 1970' (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2012 [second edition])

Richard Gray, 'After the Fall: American Literature since 9/11' (Oxford: Wiley- Blackwell, 2011)

Rod Mengham (ed.), 'An Introduction to Contemporary Fiction: International Writing in English' (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1999)

Cary Nelson (ed.), 'The Oxford Handbook of Modern and Contemporary American Poetry' (New York: OUP, 2012)

Patricia Waugh, 'Postmodernism: A Reader' (London: Edward Arnold, 1992)