Fiction and Power - CP502

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2017-18 2018-19
Canterbury Autumn and Spring
View Timetable
6 30 (15) DR A Evangelou







This module looks at a group of politically inspired literary texts, comics and films, some of which were produced under the totalitarian regimes which held sway in Europe between 1917 and 1989. Others deal with the Middle East conflict, and the Islamic revolution in Iran and Mao's Cultural Revolution in China, or power relations in other contexts. Most explore ways of challenging and subverting authoritarian power structures and of articulating a critique in what Bertolt Brecht called 'dark times'. But we also focus on less obvious negotiations of fiction and power, especially with respect to the various forms of power to which these texts are subject, in which they participate, and on which they reflect metafictionally. The approach is comparative in various ways as the texts range historically and culturally, as well as across genres and language barriers (Arab, Czech, English, French, German, Italian, Greek, Polish, Russian and Chinese)


This module appears in:

Contact hours

The module will be taught by means of a weekly two-hour seminar.
Total Contact Hours: 40
Independent Study Hours: 260 (devoted to the reading of primary and secondary texts, seminar preparation, and essay planning and writing)
Total study hours: 300


Also available under code CP524 (Level 5)

Method of assessment

Assessment will be 100% coursework:
• Oral Presentation (20%)
• 2 x Extended Essay (40% each)

Preliminary reading

Indicative Reading List
• Hanne, Michael (1994/1996). "Narrative and Power", in: The Power of the Story. Fiction and Political Change. Rev. ed. Providence, RI: Berghahn, 1–42.
Literary Texts (any edition and/or translation unless otherwise stated):
• Bulgakov, Mikhail, 2007 (1929–39/1966–67). The Master and Margherita. Trans. Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky. London: Penguin.
• Grant, Linda, 2000. When I Lived in Modern Times. London: Granta Publications.
• Ionesco, Eugène, 2015 (1959). Rhinoceros (Rhinoceros and Other Plays). Trans. Derek Prouse. New York: Grove Press.
• Kundera, Milan, 1995 (1984). The Unbearable Lightness of Being. Trans. Michael Henry Heim. London: Faber and Faber.
• Satrapi, Marjane. 2008 (2003). Persepolis. Trans. Anjali Singh. London: Vintage.
• Sijie, Dai, Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress (2000)
• Solzhenitsyn, Aleksandr, 2000 (1962) A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. Trans. Ralph Parker. London: Penguin.
• Wolfgang Becker (dir.), Good Bye, Lenin! (2003)
• Leni Riefenstahl (dir.), The Triumph of the Will (1935)

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

See the library reading list for this module (Medway)

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module level 6 students will be able to:
11.8 Demonstrate full awareness of and ability to analyse critically discursive power relations in context (political, ethnic, gendered, etc.);
11.9 Demonstrate an excellent understanding of the interplay between ideology and the imagination, politics and literature;
11.10 Demonstrate an excellent understanding of the interrelation of fact and fiction;
11.11 Demonstrate an excellent understanding of literature in its function as a catalyst and product of identity formation;
11.12 Demonstrate a full awareness of literature in its function as a vehicle of cultural self-reflection;
11.13 Select and synthesise very complex material and develop and defend coherent, persuasive and well-presented arguments both in class and in writing in a comparative context;
11.14 Demonstrate an improved ability to undertake the comparative analysis of literature of outstanding quality.

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