Modern Literature II


Course Convenor: Dr Scarlett Baron

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, in forms sometimes dubbed ‘postmodern’, in the work of such writers as Beckett, Nabokov, and Coetzee. Yet such 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. It seeks to provide the student with a critical and historical understanding of the most important literary tendencies, paying some attention to the relations between literature and other cultural forms (especially cinema) in a period of immense change.

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.

Lectures are offered on specified texts by set authors in various genres, including film, chosen to represent dominant strands of artistic production. There are introductory general lectures on these ‘set’ genres – these delineate crucial intellectual, historical, and artistic contexts – and lectures on other writers and issues essential to an understanding of the period.

Seminars cover areas of special interest. Recent topics have included: post-war fiction, the contemporary one-day novel, postmodern American fiction, beat writers, film and alienation, experimental writing, post-war thrillers, and motiveless evil in film and fiction.

A selective reading list is made available at the end of the summer term preceding the course so that students may inform and prepare themselves. More detailed recommendations for reading may be given in lectures and seminars.

By the end of the course, students should have developed:

· A familiarity with the richness and variety of literature in the period.

· An understanding of some of the most important contexts that inform

writing in the period.

· A detailed knowledge of and critical idiom for discussing some of the most important writers and works of the period.

Examination is by means of a three-hour written paper, or by Course Essay if preferred and if no other Course Essay is being submitted by the candidate in that year.