Freedom and Oppression in Modern Literature - CP305

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2019-20
(version 2)
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4 15 (7.5) MISS J Pettitt







The twentieth-century imagination was marked by a spirit of doubt, especially of the Enlightenment faith in reason's capacity to advance humankind to happiness and freedom. In this module will be discussed some classic fictional explorations of freedom and social, political, religious and racial oppression which have had an international impact. These texts will be read as works of literature in their own right as well as contextualised with the ideas they question and propagate: universal happiness, human liberation, and morality without God, personal and political freedom, the self and its responsibility.


This module appears in:

Contact hours

Total Contact Hours: 20

Method of assessment

100% Coursework:

Essay 1 (1,000 words) – 40%
Essay 2 (2,000 words) – 60%

Indicative reading

Any edition of the following:

Maya Angelou, I Know Why Caged Birds Sing
Heinrich Böll, The Lost Honour of Katharina Blum
Albert Camus, The Outsider
André Gide, The Immoralist
Nicolai Gogol, 'The Nose' and 'The Overcoat'
Franz Kafka, 'The Metamorphosis'
Toni Morrison, Beloved
George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

- Demonstrate a good knowledge of a range of influential writings from the nineteenth to the twentieth centuries dealing with major ideological preoccupations and, more specifically, issues of freedom and oppression;
- Confront and examine major realities of modern life and shaping ideas and ideologies in the works of writers whose stature, significance and impact is international;
- Exhibit a broad understanding of the ways in which creative literature can convey ideological, political and ethical purpose;
- Discuss and evaluate the capacity of fictional literature, in comparison with discursive literature, to contribute to political and moral thought;
- Benefit from close and careful reading of the literary text;
- Demonstrate an evaluative comparison of literary texts with similar themes.

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