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MA Gender, Sexuality and Culture / Course details

Year of entry: 2020

Course unit details:
Modernism and its Margins

Unit code ENGL60451
Credit rating 30
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by English and American Studies
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


The aim of the course is to introduce students to study of the 1900-1940 period at Masters level. The module addresses work by many well-known writers in the context of current and emergent approaches to literary modernism. It thinks about how recent work in modernist studies – for example informed by queer, gender studies or post-colonial approaches – has reconfigured the field by inviting attention to questions of the margins and of marginality. The module addresses both canonical and non-canonical fiction, poetry and non-fiction.



  • To be able to discuss and explore issues of modernism and ‘marginal’ modernisms (in relation to the post-Second World War definitions of writing of the period 1900-1940);
  • To be able to engage productively with poetry, fiction and non-fiction from the period;
  • To test hypotheses about literary movements and writing in a regional national and transnational contexts;
  • To be able to bring to bear relevant theoretical approaches and writing on modernism.


2019/20 schedule

Week 1 Joseph Conrad's 'The Outpost of Progress' and 'The Shadow-Line' (reading in booklet) Howard Booth

Week 2 Rudyard Kipling, 'Mrs Bathurst', Katherine Mansfield, 'At the Bay' and Sylvia Townsend Warner, 'The Music at Long Verney' (in booklet) HB

Week 3 D.H. Lawrence The Virgin and the Gipsy (Wordsworth Classics or Penguin), and 'The Border-Line' (short story in course booklet) HB

Week 4 D.H.  Lawrence's Birds, Beasts and Flowers (Pp.  218-342 of the Wordsworth Classics edition of Lawrence's Complete Poems) HB

Week 5 W.B. Yeats, Selected Poems (ed. Timothy Webb) Robert Spencer

Week 6 Reading Week

Week 7 James Joyce, Ulysses (Annotated Students' Edition, ed. Declan Kiberd) RS

Week 8 James Joyce, Ulysses  RS

Week 9 Elizabeth Bowen, The Last September (Vintage) RS

Week 10 Dorothy Richardson, Interim (in Pilgrimage, vol. 2, Virago) Daniela Caselli

Week 11 Dorothy Richardson, Interim DC

Week 12 Winifred Holtby South Riding (Virago) DC


Books to buy:

The Complete Poems of D.H. Lawrence (Wordsworth Classics)

D.H. Lawrence, available second hand - try The Virgin and the Gipsy (Wordsworth Classics) or The Complete Short Novels (Penguin); also available as a free ebook on Project Gutenberg Australia

W.B. Yeats, Selected Poems edited by Timothy Webb (Penguin)

James Joyce, Ulysses, ed. Declan Kiberd (Annotated Students’ Edition, Penguin)

Elizabeth Bowen, The Last September (Vintage)

Dorothy Richardson, Pilgrimage, volume 2 - contains Interim (Virago)

Winifred Holtby, South Riding (Virago)


Teaching and learning methods

Weekly seminars

Knowledge and understanding

  • Competence in the range of current debates in modernist literary studies;
  • Have the ability to use, and relate the texts discussed to debates in, relevant theoretical and secondary texts on modernism and ‘marginal’ modernisms;
  • Have an ability to construct and defend complex arguments through textual evidence (literary and / or theoretical), in written assessment and in seminar discussions;
  • Be able to communicate effectively with peers in seminar and small group situations;
  • Be able to demonstrate appropriate written skills for work contributing to the final classification of the MA.

Intellectual skills

  • Ability to debate and consider the utility and definition of a major movement in literary history and debates on its meaning, utility and reconceptualization;
  • Have an ability both to read closely with discrimination and to relate literary texts to wider cultural and theoretical issues;
  • Have enhanced skills of comparison and analysis;
  • Have the ability to compare different kinds of texts in seminar discussion and in written work.

Practical skills

  • Show evidence of skills in close reading necessary to appreciate the complexities of the primary and secondary texts;
  • Have skills in the use of all relevant library resources, databases and search engines, to locate material for discussion and assessment purposes;
  • Have an ability to plan and carry out independent research projects shown in the assessed coursework essay;
  • Have the ability to participate productively in the seminar discussions;
  • The development of enhanced analytical skills and skills of written and verbal communication and argument.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Ability to engage with, critique and write well about a complex and diverse area;
  • Have the ability to participate productively in the seminar discussions;
  • Have the ability and to work independently (as shown in the assessed essay);
  • The development of enhanced analytical skills and skills of written and verbal communication and argument.

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written assignment (inc essay) 100%

Feedback methods

  • Office hours to discuss developing essays.
  • Formative feedback offered on draft opening to the essay (750 words).
  • Summative feedback on the course essay.
  • One-to-one feedback (during office hours or by appointment)

Recommended reading

DiBattista, Maria and Lucy McDiarmid, eds., High and Low Moderns: Literature and Culture, 1889-1939 (1996)

Eysteinsson, Astradur, The Concept of Modernism (1992)

Mao, Douglas and Rebecca L. Walkowitz, Bad Modernisms (2006)

Wallace, Jeff, Beginning Modernism (2011)

Scott, Bonnie Kime, The Gender of Modernism: A Critical Anthology (1990)

Stevens, Hugh and Caroline Howlett, Modernist Sexualities (2000)

Wollaeger, Mark and With Matt Eatough, The Oxford Handbook of Global Modernisms (2012)

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 33
Independent study hours
Independent study 267

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Howard Booth Unit coordinator

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