Contemporary Literature 2023-24
School Of Arts, Culture And Language
Module - Semester 2
The contemporary period - from 2001 to the present day - has been a period marked both by the increasing integration of economies and cultures across the world - often under the sign of globalisation - and the experience of crisis upon crisis - which often reach deep into our personal lives. This module focuses on the ways in which English-language literature from across the world represents some of the common experiences of the twenty-first century. Themes you will study include climate change, technology, precarious employment, social media and polarisation, gender and sexuality, war, social and political change. You will read a selection of texts from across genres and continents – including novels, short stories, and poems – and develop your understanding of how these texts have responded to, and intervened in, some of the major issues and challenges of our time.
The module's syllabus will be updated each year, but students can expect to read English-language literature from across the world which covers some of the following themes:
- contemporary depictions of gender and sexuality
- climate change and the environment in contemporary writing
- post-humanism, technology and the digital revolution
- race and class in modern and contemporary society
- the relationship between literary form and context
- climate change
- precarious employment
- social media and polarisation
- gender and sexuality
- social and political change
Writers studied may vary from year to year, but are likely to include: Toni Morrison, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, J.M. Coetzee, Abdulrazak Gurnah, Kazuo Ishiguro, Amitav Ghosh, Margaret Atwood, Ali Smith.
50-59% A Pass (C) candidate’s work will show many of the following qualities: •A satisfactory level of knowledge, analysis and expression. •Some familiarity with, and understanding of, relevant theoretical issues. •Generally sound organisation of argument, with some critical ability. •Accurate expression. •Competent use of quotation and references.
60-69% A candidate’s work reaching Merit will show many of the following qualities: •An advanced level of factual knowledge. •Significant [substantial] knowledge of relevant theories and types of analysis. •Some evidence of original thought. •The ability to organise and argue effectively, make balanced judgements, and demonstrate critical thought. •Fluent and accurate expression. •Competent use of quotation and references.
70% and above Typically, the work of a candidate reaching Distinction will show many of the following qualities: •Thorough knowledge and understanding of relevant theories and types of analysis. •Thorough knowledge of a range of sources and the capacity to engage these critically. •Introduction and discussion of original ideas. •Relevant, well-organised and sophisticated argument. •High ratio of analysis to exposition. •Maturity, clarity and cogency of expression. •Excellent handling of quotation and references.
- Analyse the complex relationship between form, content, the international and the local in contemporary writing.
- Discuss the relationship between English-language literature from around the world and its contemporary cultural contexts.
- Identify and analyse key tropes, themes and practices in contemporary writing, drawing on appropriate secondary reading, with a particular regard to themes discussed in the module (e.g. climate crisis, social change, technology and society)
- Recognise and describe a variety of contemporary genres and examine individual texts within their generic context.
Essay, title to be agreed with the tutor.
Annotated Bibliography of Three Critical Articles or Texts.