Module QXP-3009:
Working Class Fictions

Module Facts

Run by School of Languages, Literatures and Linguistics.

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 2

Organiser: Dr Lisa Blower

Overall aims and purpose

This module investigates some of the following questions by means of the study and creative practice in working class fictions since its conception: what is working class fiction and why does class matter in literature? How, as a consequence of the political landscape at large, has the genre had to evolve to represent working class culture? How does place and identity, race and gender interact and come to provide a critical framework for stories, rich in polemic, to take place? How is the genre represented through other mediums? And why the necessity to commit to reproducing social realism and state of the nation fiction? The primary aim is to alert students to the rich and varied history and patterns of working class fictions and to develop their critical understanding of what is often considered to be a troubled and rejected form. Intended to foster independent enquiry and creative practice into the tradition of working class literature, the module will be mindful of the critical, social and media debates and propaganda that influence the class related subject, and how these collective discourses, when represented through depictions of the underdog, the flawed hero, the angry young men and poor cows, are received.

Course content

Beginning with an examination of the history of the genre and its key landmark texts, we will explore notions of tradition, subject and style of working class fictions, in particular the relationship between place, gender and identity. A study of these texts will come to formulate a narrative pattern in working class perspectives, and how the role of voice, language (the translation of anger and rage in particular), and 'northerness' is so prevalent in the storytelling. We will explore the role of the matriarch, as a key working-class character, the underdog as the anti-hero figure. We will also look at the importance of setting and the handling of the polemic as a story thread. Finally, the role of humour and farce, and then sexuality in line with cultural agendas will be explored. Students will then be encouraged to apply all explorations to their own written practice by referencing particular texts or working to reflect a certain polemic important to their own understanding of class. They will also examine the protest song/lyric and the adaption process of text to screen, paying particular attention to the social-conscious works of Ken Loach, Andrea Arnold, Paul Abbott, and Mike Leigh.

Assessment Criteria

C- to C+

A 2(ii) candidate’s work will show many of the following qualities:

Some attempt at serious exploration of ideas.

Some link between themes and form.

Good attempt to engage with form, but this may not be entirely sustained.

Use of language technically proficient, but not always focused.

Some awareness of the creative process and of decisions made in writing.

Good work, but its strengths need to be more fully sustained to reach publishable standard

excellent

Typically, the work of a first class candidate will show many of the following qualities:

Excellent levels of originality, vision and depth; striking and thorough engagement with ideas.

Excellent understanding and control of form.

Impressive linguistic control and/or innovation.

Sophisticated understanding of the creative process and assured control of decisions made in writing.

Dynamic work approaching publishable standard.

threshold

A 3rd class candidate’s work will show many of the following features:

Limited engagement with ideas.

Limited understanding of key texts.

Link between themes and form not always clear.

Limited sense of formal conventions. Inconsistent with regard to linguistic technicalities

Limited awareness of redrafting and editing process.

good

A 2(i) candidate’s work will show many of the following qualities:

Demonstration of a degree of vitality and originality.

Very good understanding of generic conventions; sound use of structures and forms.

Resourceful use of language

Sound understanding of the creative process and thoughtful control of decisions made in writing.

Very good work, which at times comes close to publishable standard

Learning outcomes

    1. An informed insight into how the genre contributes to contemporary literature, in particular through its adaptation from text to screen.
    1. A heightened awareness and critical understanding of the origins of working class fictions and the ways in which the genre has evolved from the 20th to the 21st century.
    1. An informed understanding of selected British working class texts, acknowledging their contribution to the history and development of the genre.
    1. A critical awareness of the interface between text, genre, tradition, culture, place and class.
    1. Practice-based study of how working class writers and writers of working class fiction respond to cultural, societal and political shifts that affect the working class identity.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
LOGBOOK OR PORTFOLIO Creative and Critical Portfolio

1,800 word creative work - short story or collection of, start of a longer work of prose - characteristic of the working class genre that shows explicit understanding of the genre and its aim to reflect a particular culture of writing.

700 word critical review of two working class fictions - one from the 20th century, one from the 21st century - demonstrating understanding of how the genre has evolved in terms of its characters and their stories in the last century. OR 700 word review of the adaption of a working class text to screen.

50
LOGBOOK OR PORTFOLIO Creative & Critical Portfolio

2,000 word creative work - either continuing the longer work of prose, adding to the collection of short fiction or a standalone piece - that demonstrates increasing awareness of the genre and its narrative characteristics.

500 word critical commentary explaining narrative choices and writing process of the complete creative submission.

50

Teaching and Learning Strategy

Hours
Seminar 22
Private study 178

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
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting
  • Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others

Subject specific skills

  • Awareness of how different social and cultural contexts affect the nature of language and meaning (English Benchmark Statement 2.1; 2.2; 3.1.3; 3.1.7; 3.1.11; 3.2.8).
  • Command of a broad range of vocabulary and an appropriate critical terminology (English Benchmark Statement 3.1.9; 3.2.6).
  • Broad knowledge of literature and the distinctive characters of texts written in the principal literary genres of fiction, poetry and drama, and of other kinds of writing and communication (English Benchmark Statement 1.3.1; 3.1.1; 3.1.2).
  • Critical Skills in the close reading, description, reasoning and analysis and the ability to acquire substantial quantities of complex information of diverse kinds in a structured and systematic way involving the use of the distinctive interpretative skills of the subject (English Benchmark Statement 1.3.2; 1.3.6; 1.3.9; 2.1; 2.3; 3.2.1; 3.3.1; 3.3.3; 3.3.5; 3.3.8; 3.3.12; 3.3.13).
  • Information technology and time management and organization skills, as shown by the ability to plan and present conclusions effectively (English Benchmark Statement 1.3.9; 3.3.14; 3.3.15).
  • Rhetorical skills of effective communication and argument, both oral and written (English Benchmark Statement 2.3; 3.1.10; 3.2.5; 3.3.1; 3.3.6).
  • The ability to work with and in relationship to others through the presentation of ideas and information and the collective negotiation of solutions (English Benchmark Statement 1.3.9; 3.3.10).
  • Sensitivity to generic conventions and to the shaping effects upon communication of circumstances, authorship, textual production and intended audience (English Benchmark Statement 1.3.8; 2.3.; 3.1.2; 3.2.3).
  • The capacity for independent thought and judgement; the ability to articulate knowledge and understanding of texts, concepts and theories and to interrogate and apply a variety of theoretical positions and weigh the importance of alternative perspectives (English Benchmark Statement 1.3.9; 2.1; 2.3; 3.1.10; 3.2.2; 3.3.1; 3.3.7; 3.3.11).
  • Responsiveness to the central role of language in the creation of meaning and a sensitivity to the affective power of language (English Benchmark Statement 1.3.5; 1.3.8; 3.1.5; 3.1.11; 3.2.4).
  • The ability to comprehend and develop intricate concepts in an open-ended way which involves an understanding of purpose and consequences (English Benchmark Statement 1.3.6; 3.3.9).
  • Understanding of how cultural norms and assumptions influence questions of judgement (English Benchmark Statement 2.1; 2.2; 3.1.6; 3.1.7; 3.2.9).
  • Recognition of the multi-faceted nature of literature, and of its complex relationship to other media or disciplines and forms of knowledge (English Benchmark Statement 1.3.7; 2.1; 2.2; 2.4; 2.5; 3.1.8; 3.1.12).
  • Critical Skills in the close reading, description, reasoning and analysis of texts (English Benchmark Statement 1.3.6; 1.3.9; 2.1; 2.3; 3.2.1; 3.3.1; 3.2.1; 3.3.8; 3.3.12).
  • Competence in the planning and execution of essays, presentations and other writing and project work (English Benchmark Statement 3.3.6).
  • Conceptual skills developed by demonstration and discussion. (English Benchmark Statement 3.2.2; 3.3.14; 3.3.17; 3.3.18; 3.3.19).
  • Study skills in researching concepts and contexts by directed reading. (English Benchmark Statement 3.3.22; 3.3.23).
  • The ability to express ideas clearly in discussion and in organised written form. (English Benchmark Statement 3.2.5; 3.2.7; 3.3.11; 3.3.15; 3.3.16; 3.3.21; 3.3.24).
  • The ability to situate texts in intertextual debate and as responses to and interventions in contemporary culture. (English Benchmark Statement 3.1.7; 3.1.10; 3.1.11; 3.2.3; 3.2.8).
  • Communicate effectively in interpersonal settings, in writing and in a variety of media; engagement with forms of critical analysis, argument and debate, expressed through an appropriate command of oral, written and other forms of communication (Communication, Media, Film and Cultural Studies benchmark 6.1.5; 8.2.6).
  • Competence in the planning and execution of essays, presentations and other writing and project work; bibliographic skills, including accurate citation of sources and consistent use of conventions in the presentation of scholarly work and the ability to engage in processes of drafting and redrafting texts to achieve clarity of expression and an appropriate style; making use, as appropriate, of a problem-solving approach (English Benchmark Statement 3.2.7; 3.3.4; 3.3.6; Communication, Media, Film and Cultural Studies benchmark 6.1.7).
  • Broad knowledge of a range of texts, genres, aesthetic forms and cultural practices, and the ability to produce close analysis of these and of the uses and implications of these approaches; an understanding of particular media forms and genres, and the way in which they organize understandings, meanings and affects (English Benchmark Statement 1.3.1; 3.1.1; 3.1.2; Communication, Media, Film and Cultural Studies benchmarks 4.1.5; 8.2.5).
  • Ability to articulate knowledge and understanding of texts, concepts and theories relating to English studies.
  • An understanding of creative and critical processes, and of the wide range of skills inherent in creative writing. (NAWE Creative Writing Benchmark Statement 3.1).
  • Knowledge of a wide range of canonical English texts, providing a confident understanding of literary traditions as well as the confidence to experiment and challenge conventions when writing creatively. (English Benchmark Statement 3.1).
  • Artistic engagement and ability to articulate complex ideas in oral and written forms. (NAWE Creative Writing Benchmark Statement 3.2).
  • Ability to connect creative and critical ideas between and among forms, techniques and types of creative and critical praxis. (NAWE Creative Writing Benchmark Statement 3.2; English Benchmark Statement 3.2).
  • Awareness of how different social and cultural contexts affect the nature of language and meaning (English Benchmark Statement 3.2).
  • Ability to formulate and solve problems, anticipate and accommodate change, and work within contexts of ambiguity, uncertainty and unfamiliarity (NAWE Creative Writing Benchmark Statement 3.2; English Benchmark Statement 3.3).
  • Ability to engage in processes of drafting and redrafting texts to achieve clarity of expression and an appropriate style. (English Benchmark Statement 3.3; NAWE Creative Writing Benchmark Statement 3.2).
  • Ability to gather information, analyse, interpret and discuss different viewpoints (NAWE Creative Writing Benchmark Statement 3.2; English Benchmark Statement 3.3).

Courses including this module

Compulsory in courses:

Optional in courses: