Politics and Power in Literature and Film - CPLT6670

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2022 to 2023
Spring Term 5 15 (7.5) Joanne Pettitt checkmark-circle


This module gives students the opportunity to examine literature and film that is politically and ideologically orientated. The central focus will be on the ways in which literature represents, reflects on, and participates in structures of power.

Examples will be taken from around the world. Over the course of the module, we may read accounts of slavery in America, the rise and fall of Fascism in Europe, the postcolonial politics of Nigeria, the subsumption of Tibet, and the fall out of Russian Communism.

This approach will allow us to think about dynamics of power from a global perspective and will give us the chance to think about the role of literature and film in a world framed by competing ideologies and seemingly endless political tensions.


Contact hours

Total Contact Hours: 20
Total Private Study Hours: 130
Total Study Hours: 150

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods:
• Essay 1 (2,000 words) - 40%
• Essay 2 (2,500 words) - 60%

Reassessment methods:
• 100% Coursework (3,000 words)

Indicative reading

Annaud, J [Dir.]. (1997). 7 Years in Tibet. [DVD]. USA: Mandalay Entertainment.
Atogun, O. (2016). Taduno's Song. Edinburgh: Canongate.
Beecher-Stowe. (1852). Uncle Tom's Cabin. London: Global Classics.
Hanne, M. (1994/1996). "Narrative and Power", in: The Power of the Story. Fiction and Political Change. Oxford: Berghahn, pp.1-42.
Ionesco, E. (1959). Rhinoceros (Rhinoceros and Other Plays). Chicago: Avalon.
Kundera, M. (1984). The Unbearable Lightness of Being. London: Faber.
Solzhenitsyn, A. (1962). A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. London: Vintage.
Vonnegut, K. (1969). Slaughterhouse-Five. London: Vintage.

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1 Demonstrate awareness of and ability to analyse discursive power relations (political, ethnic, gendered, etc.);
2 Demonstrate an understanding of the interplay between ideology and the imagination, politics and literature;
3 Demonstrate an understanding of the interrelation of fact and fiction;
4 Demonstrate an understanding of literature in its function as a catalyst and product of identity formation;
5 Demonstrate an awareness of literature in its function as a vehicle of cultural self-reflection.

The intended generic learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1 Demonstrate refined communication skills, including the structuring of an original argument, through the writing of essays which will enable students to write a cogent discussion, developing an independent argument;
2 Demonstrate and improve ability to read closely and critically, and to apply a range of critical terms to texts.
3 Engage critically and systematically with recent criticism


  1. Credit level 5. Intermediate level module usually taken in Stage 2 of an undergraduate degree.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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