Modern Literature II
This period is notable for the sheer volume and diversity of writing; no course can do it more than selective justice.
In the post-war period the experiments of ‘Modernism’ have continued, sometimes into ‘Post-Modernism’, in the work of such writers as Beckett, Nabokov and Coetzee, but these categories do not satisfactorily cover the work of many other writers of considerable power and scope whose writing works in different ways. The course aims to give the student guidance in tracing some of the traditions taking shape or breaking down in the period.
Lectures are offered on some specified texts by set authors in various genres, including film, chosen to represent some of the dominant strands, and there are also introductory general lectures on those genres to give intellectual, historical and artistic contexts for the course as a whole. There will be lectures on other writers from the period, with some attempt to cover areas like popular music into which literary energies have come to be channelled. The seminars cover areas of special interest. Recent examples have included Holocaust literature, the post-colonial novel, twenty-first-century fiction, experimental poetry, classic film, and crime writing.
A selective reading list is available at the end of the summer term preceding the course, so that students can inform and prepare themselves. Further, more detailed recommendations for reading may be given in lectures and seminars, or by tutors. The course aims to provide the student with a critical and historical understanding of the main literary tendencies of the period, with some attention to the relations between literature and other cultural forms (notably cinema and music) in a period of immense change. Throughout the course, lectures establish the main terms of analysis and provide background knowledge, while a great variety of seminars concentrate on particular writers, movements, genres or themes.
By the end of the course, students should have developed:
- A familiarity with the richness and variety of literature in the period.
- A detailed knowledge of and critical idiom for discussing some of the most important writers and works of the period.
- An understanding of some of the most important contexts that inform writing in the period.