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Unit information: U.S. Postmodernist Fiction in 2020/21

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Unit name U.S. Postmodernist Fiction
Unit code ENGL30078
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
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.

Students will be given the opportunity to submit a draft or outline of their final, summative essay of up to 1,500 words and to receive feedback on this.

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.

Teaching details

Teaching will involve asynchronous and synchronous elements, including group discussion, research and writing activities, and peer dialogue. Students are expected to engage with the reading and participate fully with the weekly tasks and topics. Learning will be further supported through the opportunity for individual consultation.

Assessment Details

  • 1 x 3500 word essay (100%) [ILOs 1-5]

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)