English and drama

Period of Literature: 1860-1945

Module code: Q3137
Level 5
30 credits in autumn semester
Teaching method: Lecture, Seminar
Assessment modes: Coursework, Unseen examination

On this module you will study one of the truly momentous and troubling periods of British and world history. Imperialist conflict, the growth of nationalism, war, migration, feminism and the struggle for women's suffrage, the development of consumerism and of new forms of economic organisation, the emergence of anarchism, socialism, communism and fascism, the creation of the mass press, the radio and cinema: these are some of the contextual forces out of which emerged some of the most challenging, demanding, fascinating, rich and bewildering works of literature in English.

You will examine the links between modernity and modern/modernist literature in a range of texts, genres and authors. You will investigate notions of the avant-garde and the experimental in writing, and explore the ways in which literary texts participated in and responded to the revolutionary intellectual changes that marked this period, from Darwinism to psychoanalysis. Some of the topics we will investigate include: the consequences of science and technology (modernisation, urbanisation, sub-urbanisation); definitions and re-definitions of Englishness; the invention of traditions; the critique of modernity; the fate of liberalism; the impact of photography, the mass media and new forms of communication from the telephone to the motor car.

Module learning outcomes

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the connections between literature, both dominant and marginal, and its social, cultural, intellectual and historical contexts.
  • Communicate effectively a critical and contextual understanding of the practice of literature in the period as exemplified in appropriate textual instances.
  • Assess and explain aspects of the relationship between the contexts of literature and developments in genre and representation.
  • Demonstrate an awareness of current reflections on and debates about the period of study.