Contemporary Literature and Culture (Q3306)

30 credits, Level 5

Spring teaching

How far are we able to identify a distinctive phase in the history of cultural production in the contemporary epoch? We begin with an overview of theoretical developments and debates in the latter part of the twentieth century. By interrogating the discourses and rhetoric of late capitalism, globalisation, neo-liberalism, postmodernism and imperialism, we ask how they capture certain pre-millennial tensions, as well as post-millennial possibilities. 

We present a conceptual basis from which to explore how new literary and other cultural formations have come into being in response to these developments.

In the context of debates about the ‘value’ of the study of humanities, in what ways are our senses of literary possibility being expanded? Given the turbulence of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, we consider the complex relations between literature, politics and history in flux.

The module will engage with the work of a wide range of emerging writers, film makers and visual artists, in order to map the contours of peculiarly contemporary ‘structures of feeling.’

Authors taught in the past include Ali Smith, Cormac McCarthy, Teju Cole, Kamila Shamsie, Don DeLillo, and Ling Ma.


33%: Lecture
67%: Seminar


100%: Coursework (Essay, Portfolio)

Contact hours and workload

This module is approximately 300 hours of work. This breaks down into about 44 hours of contact time and about 256 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 2024/25. However, there may be changes to these modules in response to feedback, staff availability, student demand or updates to our curriculum. We’ll make sure to let you know of any material changes to modules at the earliest opportunity.


This module is offered on the following courses: