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BA Art History and English Literature / Course details

Year of entry: 2020

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Course unit details:
Modernism

Unit code ENGL21192
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by English and American Studies
Available as a free choice unit? No

Overview

This course provides an extensive introduction to the study of literary modernism by asking the following questions: What is modernism? When was modernism? How did it begin? What have been its effects? Our aim is to think about how modernism emerged, how it is defined and how it was manifested in a variety of different literary genres and forms. Major modernist writers will be discussed, including James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, D.H. Lawrence and T.S. Eliot, so that students can start to analyse modernism’s various thematic concerns and formal innovations. Students will be encouraged to engage very closely with important modernist texts that they will find, hopefully, both difficult and challenging. At the same time, they will have the opportunity to situate their readings in the context of important critical, theoretical and even philosophical debates within and about the field. Key themes and categories will be explored throughout the course, including experience, identity, subjectivity, political commitment and literary form, so that by the end of the course students will be in a position to interrogate the category of the ‘modern’ and discuss the relationship between modernism and modernity.

 

Aims

  • To equip students with the close reading skills necessary to analyse formally innovative works of modernist writing 

 

  • To encourage students to acquire and reflect on the critical vocabulary necessary to explain and contextualise the works of modernist writers 

 

  • To prepare students for the advanced study of modernist and post-modernist texts at level 3

 

  • To explore the variety of forms, texts and genres associated with literary modernism

 

  • To engage philosophically and theoretically with the different ways in which modernist texts explore questions of subjectivity, identity and experience

 

  • To familiarise students with important critical and theoretical debates and controversies within the field of modernist studies

 

  • To encourage reflection on the definition of modernism and especially on the relationship between modernism and modernity.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • Identify the key formal and thematic concerns of modernist writing
  • Appreciate the variety of ‘modernisms’ grouped under the catch-all term ‘modernism’
  • Analyse and explain the distinctive formal properties of modernist literary texts
  • Discuss the complex relationship between modernism and modernity

Knowledge and understanding

By the end of this course students will be able to: 

  • Navigate the most important critical and theoretical debates in modernist studies as well as formulate a distinctive position on these debates
  • Discuss the origins and consequences of modernist innovations in literature  
  • Analyse and explain the distinctive formal properties of modernist literary texts
  • Articulate a critical position on the key question of the relationship between modernism and modernity 

Intellectual skills

By the end of this course students will be able to: 

  • Deploy and reflect on the critical vocabulary necessary for the analysis of formally and thematically innovative works of fiction
  • Offer a cogent definition of an important period in literary history
  • Make reasoned judgements about prominent controversies within the field of modernist studies
  • Assess critical arguments, evaluate the utility of theoretical concepts, and read closely works of literature, in order to formulate persuasive critical claims in assessed work 

Practical skills

By the end of this course students will be able to: 

  • Produce cogent arguments about modernist literary texts in written form
  • Discuss and analyse a variety of critical and theoretical judgements in seminar groups  
  • Research a topic from a variety of sources in order to refine their responses to texts and to frame their arguments as interventions in various critical conversations taking place within the field of modernist studies
  • Work effectively with other students and with tutors in order to explore, refine and substantiate critical judgements about modernist texts  

Transferable skills and personal qualities

By the end of this course students will be able to show: 

  • An advanced ability to analyse and process complex information
  • An enhanced capacity to communicate persuasively in speech and writing
  • Increased independence in research and problem-solving
  • Increased ability to work effectively in groups

Employability skills

Analytical skills
Synthesise and present information in a lucid and engaging manner
Group/team working
Work effectively as a member of a group
Problem solving
Organise time effectively in pursuit of specific goals
Other
By the end of this course students will be able to: ¿ Synthesise and present information in a lucid and engaging manner ¿ Work effectively as a member of a group ¿ Organise time effectively in pursuit of specific goals

Assessment methods

Essay 50%
Examination 50%

 

Feedback methods

 

  • Written feedback on essay and exam
  • Additional one-to-one feedback (during consultation hour or by making an appointment)
  • Optional tutorials to discuss seminar performance and written work

 

Recommended reading

James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, ed. Jeri Johnson (OUP, 2000);

Virginia Woolf, Mrs Dalloway, ed. David Bradshaw (Oxford: Oxford: Oxford University Press - Oxford World’s Classics, 2008)

Virginia Woolf, Between the Acts, ed. Frank Kermode (Oxford: Oxford University Press - Oxford World’s Classics, 2008);

T.S Eliot, Selected Poems (London: Faber & Faber, 2015);

D.H. Lawrence, The Woman Who Rode Away/St. Mawr/The Princess (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 2008).

Study hours

Independent study hours
Independent study 165

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Howard Booth Unit coordinator

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