Readings in the Twentieth Century - EN331

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2017-18 2018-19
Canterbury Autumn and Spring
View Timetable
4 30 (15) MR JP Virtanen




Not available as a Wild Module



This module emphasizes the links between literature, history, and culture. It introduces students to the formative events, debates and struggles of the twentieth century, and how these have been addressed by different modes of creative and critical writing. Topics such as Modernism, the Holocaust, the US culture industry, postcolonial studies and neoliberalism will be considered and discussed in relation to fictional and critical literature, films, photography, graphic novels, music, and other media. Weekly screenings will run alongside lectures and seminar discussions. Literary works across all genres will be read in relation to visual material – such as paintings, photography, feature and documentary films – and a range of selected critical reading. The majority of writing samples are drawn from English, American and more broadly Anglophone writing, though several instances of writing in other languages will also be included (all taught in translation).


This module appears in:

Contact hours

18 x weekly two-hour seminar, 18 x weekly one-hour lecture plus screenings

Method of assessment

100% coursework: three 500-word assignments (15% each) and one 2,500-word essay (45%), seminar participation (10%)

Preliminary reading

FRANZ KAFKA - 'The Transformation'
PETER WEISS - 'The Investigation'
GEORGE ORWELL - 'Shooting an Elephant'
SAMUEL SELVON - 'The Lonely Londoners'

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

See the library reading list for this module (Medway)

Learning outcomes

On completion of this module students will be able to demonstrate the following subject specific learning outcomes:

• read and respond to selected critical and creative works representative of the formative events, debates and struggles in twentieth-century thought, history, literature and culture
• develop close reading skills appropriate to specific textual modes
• learn to make meaningful critical connections and cross-references between literature and other media, between different areas of cultural production, and between the textual and the visual
• learn to situate and discuss literary and critical texts in their historical, cultural, and theoretical contexts
• both apply and interrogate critical and theoretical strategies appropriate to interdisciplinary study
• acquire a broad understanding of the ways in which creative and critical writing can convey ideological purpose
• develop their ability to identify various different kinds of texts and to analyse these texts critically
• develop their ability to make comparisons across a range of reading and a range of different media

On completion of this module students will be able to demonstrate the following generic learning outcomes:

• develop their command of written and spoken English and their ability to articulate coherent critical arguments
• develop their ability to situate critical arguments in historical contexts
• understand and interrogate various critical approaches, the theoretical assumptions that underpin these approaches, and the historical contexts which enabled them
• develop their ability to carry out independent research
• develop their presentational skills

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