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Module QXE-2019:
Modern & Contemporary Writing

Module Facts

Run by School of Languages, Literatures, Linguistics and Media

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 1

Organiser: Dr Andrew Webb

Overall aims and purpose

• Study of a broad range of literature published from the 1920s to the present • Situate this literature within broader historical, social, cultural and political contexts • Establish and explore areas of contrast and continuity between the texts on the module

Course content

‘Modern & Contemporary Writing’ introduces students to a range of British and Irish texts from the modern and contemporary period. It begins with modernist texts from the 1920s, before considering politically-engaged writing from the 1930s, and the emergence of postmodern literature in the years after the Second World War. The final part of the course considers more contemporary literature, including writing from a postcolonial perspective. The course asks students to investigate how literature across a range of genres responds to the broad historical trends and specific events of the age. These might include modernism, the political situation int he 1930s, post-War postmodernity, and postcolonialism. New and contemporary movements and traditions in British/Irish literature will be explored in the final part of the course. The module will also include visits from contemporary writers.

Assessment Criteria


Typically, work graded A- to A** (or 70 to 100) will show many of the following qualities:

• Discusses ideas with confidence and precision • Demonstrates maturity and sophistication • Displays deep knowledge of the subject in question; the answer is totally relevant • Shows independent, analytical and clear thought • Gives evidence of substantial and relevant reading • Shows great accuracy in expression, displaying total mastery over all aspects of the language • Shows occasional signs of brilliance and originality of thought • In creative work: displays considerable originality • Command over medium; may have potential for publication/production


• Unsure and lacking in confidence when discussing ideas • Referring to the subject in question in a superficial manner • Making an effort to provide fairly balanced answers • Some points in the argument irrelevant to the topic • Little evidence of background reading • Some uncertainty over language and syntax • Strengths and weaknesses fairly balanced; occasionally clumsy and unimaginative • In creative work: superficial • Not succeeding in mastering the requirements of the medium


Typically, work graded B- to B+ (or 60 to 69) will show many of the following qualities: • Discusses ideas adeptly • Most of the arguments about a specific field are well-aired • Displays knowledge of the subject in question; the answer is relevant • Shows analytical and clear thought • Gives evidence of relevant reading • Shows accuracy in expression with mastery over language. • A few minor errors here and there. • Signs of creative thought deserve a higher position within the class • In creative work: shows signs of originality, having understood the requirements of the medium • Plans of well-balanced and full answers, despite some gaps

Typically, work graded C- to C+ (or 50 to 59) will show many of the following qualities: • Discusses ideas, but without much confidence • A respectable effort but not showing any unusual talent; a few flashes of originality here and there • Makes reference to the subject in question, but some important matters not mentioned • Fairly clear thought on most occasions, and the arguments relevant on the whole • Evidence of having read some works associated with the field in question • Quite accurate expression, though the points may sometimes be presented clumsily • Signs of conscientious work deserve a higher position within the class • In creative work: not having quite mastered the requirements of the medium
• Evidence of planning in the answers, but a lack of coherence at times; undisciplined and unsure at times

Learning outcomes

  1. Critically appreciate, analyse and interpret a range of literary texts in relation to modernism, postmodernity, contemporary and emerging movements and traditions

  2. Examine patterns and variations in the literary response to the historical trends and events of the period 1920 - present

  3. Examine modern and contemporary texts from the perspective of a particular critical concern or emerging trend (for example, modernism, Cold War literature, postmodernity, postcolonialism).

  4. construct a meaningful cultural and historical understanding of the period

  5. Select, digest and organise material and produce a consistent and coherent argument, presented in essay form, to a deadline.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
ESSAY One 2,000 word essay 60
EXAM In-class exam 40

Teaching and Learning Strategy

  1. 2x1 hour lecture per week
Private study 167

1 x 1-hr seminar per week


Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting

Courses including this module

Compulsory in courses:

Optional in courses: