Modern & Contemporary Lit
Exploring Modern & Contemporary Literature 2023-24
School Of Arts, Culture And Language
Module - Semester 2
The modern and contemporary period - from 1914 to the present day - has been a time of bewildering historical change which has affected almost every aspect of our lives. This module focuses on the ways in which literature represents some of the themes from the writing of the period - including environmental and social crisis, revolutions in our understanding of gender and sexuality, race and migration, class and employment, and the digital revolution. You will discover how the texts have reflected and shaped understanding of our contemporary moment, and provided us with new ways to write about it. We will read a selection of texts from across genres – including novels, short stories, plays and poems – and develop your understanding of some of the major issues and challenges of our time. Through a thematic focus on the ways in which modern and contemporary writers represented different types of spaces—from up-market London to neglected post-industrial towns, from red-light districts to fantasy castles, from chilling dystopian schools to idealised childhood holidays —you will develop insight into key aspects of modern and contemporary literature, including: depictions of gender and sexuality, dystopia, the environment and climate change, post-humanism, technology and the digital revolution, race , immigration and class, modernism and postmodernism, and the relationship between literary form and context.
The module's syllabus will be updated each year, but students can expect to cover some of the following themes:
- modern and contemporary depictions of gender and sexuality
- modern and contemporary dystopian writing
- climate change and the environment in contemporary writing
- post-humanism, technology and the digital revolution
- modernism and postmodernism
- race and class in modern and contemporary society
- the relationship between literary form and context
Writers studied may vary from year to year, but are likely to include: T.S. Eliot, Virginia Woolf, Dylan Thomas, Samuel Beckett, Angela Carter, Kasuo Ishiguro, Ali Smith, Bernadette Evaristo.
Excellent 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
Good 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
Satisfactory 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
Pass Typically, work graded D- to D+ (or 40 to 49) will show many of the following qualities: • 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
- Analyse the relationship between form and content in modern and contemporary literature.
- Discuss the relationship between modern and contemporary texts and their historic and cultural contexts.
- Identify and analyse key themes in modern and contemporary literature, drawing on appropriate secondary reading.
- Recognise and describe a variety of genres employed by modern and contemporary authors, and examine individual texts within their generic context.
Close Reading in Context. 1000 words. Students will choose a literary extract and produce a 500-word close reading, reflecting on the techniques and literary strategies employed in the selection. In addition, they will choose from a selection of relevant historic sources and produce a 500-word commentary examining how the contextual source might inform our reading of, and perspective on, the literary text.
Critical Essay Students will write a critical essay answering one of the pre-released questions.