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BA Art History and English Literature / Course details

Year of entry: 2020

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Course unit details:
Writing, Identity and Nation

Unit code ENGL20491
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by English and American Studies
Available as a free choice unit? No


This course addresses issues of nationhood and identity in twentieth-century English, Irish, Scottish and Welsh writing, and in recent postcolonial writing. The course covers a broad spectrum of literary styles, themes and narrative voices. While the primary focus is on selected novels and poems, the course also examines key concepts in literary and cultural theory. Authors discussed include W.B. Yeats, D.H. Lawrence, Seamus Heaney and Mohsin Hamid.


  • To develop an understanding of theories of nationhood, the colonial and the post-colonial in a literary context;

  • To develop the skills to analyse literature in its historical and cultural contexts;

  • To develop the ability to work between literary texts and theories, and across different literary genres, with particular reference to 20th century and 21st century literature;

  • To foster skills of written and oral forms of expression, and of critical and analytical thinking, at a level appropriate to Level 2 of an English Studies degree.

Learning outcomes

On completion of the course, students should be able to demonstrate:

  • A knowledge of theories of nationhood, the colonial and post-colonial in a literary contexts;

  • An ability to analyse texts in their historical and cultural contexts;

  • An ability to relate literary theories to different literary genres, with particular reference to 20th century and 21st century literature;

  • An ability to present work which is characterised by analytical thought and sustained, coherent argument, in written and oral forms, at a level appropriate to Level 2 of an English Studies degree.





Employability skills

Analytical skills
Students taking this unit will be able to analyse and evaluate arguments and texts. Above all, committed students will emerge from this course unit with an advanced capacity to think critically, i.e. knowledgeably, rigorously, confidently and independently.
Group/team working
Students taking this unit will be able to work courteously and constructively as part of a larger group.
On this unit students are encouraged to respond imaginatively and independently to the questions and ideas raised by texts and other media.
Students on this unit must take responsibility for their learning and are encouraged not only to participate in group discussions but to do so actively and even to lead those discussions.
Project management
Students taking this unit will be able to work towards deadlines and to manage their time effectively.
Oral communication
Students taking this unit will be able to show fluency, clarity and persuasiveness in spoken communication.
Students on this unit will be required to digest, summarise and present large amounts of information. They are encouraged to enrich their responses and arguments with a wide range of further reading.
Written communication
Students on this unit will develop their ability to write in a way that is lucid, precise and compelling.

Assessment methods

Essay 60%
Exam 40%


The use of dictionaries in the examination is prohibited. This rule applies to all categories of students, including all Visiting Students.

Recommended reading

2019/20 Recommended reading 

Week 1 Introduction (RS)

Week 2 W.B. Yeats (JR)

Week 3 D.H. Lawrence, The Rainbow 1 (HB)

Week 4 D.H. Lawrence, The Rainbow 2 (HB)

Week 5 Lewis Grassic Gibbon, Sunset Song (RS)

Week 6 Reading Week

Week 7 David Jones, In Parenthesis (JR)

Week 8 Sam Selvon The Lonely Londoners (HB)

Week 10 Eavan Boland  (LH)

Week 11 Zadie Smith, White Teeth (JR)

Week 12 Mohsin Hamid, Exit West (RS)



There will be a course booklet which contains reading for a number of weeks (the introductory week, Yeats and Boland.) You should buy the following books in these set editions. We will use these texts in class:


D.H. Lawrence, The Rainbow, ed. Mark Kinkead-Weekes (1915; Penguin, 2007)* 

Lewis Grassic Gibbon, Sunset Song (1932; Polygon, 2006) 

David Jones, In Parenthesis (1937; Faber and Faber, 2018) 

Sam Selvon, The Lonely Londoners, ed. Susheila Nasta (1956; Penguin, 2006). 

Zadie Smith, White Teeth (2000; Penguin, 2001)

Lalwani, Nikita, Gifted (2007; Penguin 2011)

Mohsin Hamid, Exit West  (London: Hamish Hamilton, 2017) 

Shamsie, Kamila, Home Fire (Bloomsbury, 2017)



* Best are the Penguin editions of the novel that uses the text of the Cambridge Lawrence text – these are not the same as other Penguin editions of the novel. Look for ISBN-10: 0141441380 / ISBN-13: 978-0141441382 OR ISBN-10: 0140188134/

ISBN-13: 978-0140188134 There are many copies of  these editions available second hand.




Study hours

Independent study hours
Independent study 165

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Howard Booth Unit coordinator

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