Modernist and Contemporary Fictions (816Q3A)

30 credits, Level 7 (Masters)

Autumn teaching

This module will explore the terms modernism and postmodernism, and the relationship between the two, by reading a range of novels which engage with issues of artistic form, subjectivity, and modernity. We'll ask a variety of questions including:

  • How has the 20th and 21st century novel represented the attempt to delineate the shape of individual lives through ‘portraits’?
  • What changes to the novel’s terrain have been effected by contemporary history, war, or historical trauma?
  • How useful is the term postmodernism for describing contemporary writing?
  • How have high and mass cultural forms, such as visual art, the cinema, the web, etc. influenced contemporary writing?
  • How do recent novels portray the aesthetic?
  • What different ideas of temporality do we find in modernist and postmodernist writing?
  • What versions of borrowing from the past do we find in modernism and postmodernism and what purposes do these borrowings serve?
  • Is there what the critic Andreas Huyssen has called a ‘great divide’ between modernism and postmodernism?
  • What continuities might we find between modernism and postmodernism (if those terms are still useful)?

Authors read will include Joseph Conrad, Ford Madox Ford, Virginia Woolf, Don DeLillo, J.M. Coetzee, Jonathan Coe and Marilynne Robinson.


100%: Seminar


100%: Coursework (Essay, Portfolio)

Contact hours and workload

This module is approximately 300 hours of work. This breaks down into about 22 hours of contact time and about 278 hours of independent study. The University may make minor variations to the contact hours for operational reasons, including timetabling requirements.

We regularly review our modules to incorporate student feedback, staff expertise, as well as the latest research and teaching methodology. We’re planning to run these modules in the academic year 2022/23. However, there may be changes to these modules in response to COVID-19, staff availability, student demand or updates to our curriculum. We’ll make sure to let our applicants know of material changes to modules at the earliest opportunity.