Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2024 to 2025
Autumn Term 5 30 (15) Derek Ryan checkmark-circle


This module looks at some of the most innovative early twentieth century writers. As well as famous authors, such as the novelists Virginia Woolf and James Joyce, and the poet T. S. Eliot, the module examines a wide range of figures, such as Gertrude Stein, who pioneered the 'stream-of-consciousness' technique; the writer and artist Wyndham Lewis, who imitated the bombastic stance of the Italian Futurists; and the African American poet Langston Hughes, who saw the modernist moment as an opportunity to create a new ‘Negro art’. This period is characterised as much by its lively and often strident artistic manifestos as it is by its sometimes monumental literary works, and we take a close look at this climate of literary debate. We will analyse these writers against the background of changing social and sexual attitudes, examine the connections with literary and artistic developments in France and Italy, and unearth some of the less well-known writers of the period who are increasingly viewed as central to modernist literary history.


Contact hours

Total contact hours: 32
Private study hours: 268
Total study hours: 300

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods:

Critical Essay (2,000 words) (30%)
Research Essay (3,000 words) (50%)
Seminar participation (20%)

Reassessment methods:
Alternative Assessment: 100% coursework (4,000 words)

Indicative reading

Indicative Reading List:

Joyce, J. (1922). Ulysses. London: Penguin.
Rainey, L. (ed.), (2005). Modernism, An Anthology. Oxford: Blackwell.
Rhys, J. (2000). Good Morning, Midnight. London: Penguin.
Woolf, V. (2014). To The Lighthouse. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

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

8.1 Demonstrate an understanding of modernist literary forms
8.2 Relate the set texts to their relevant literary, critical, and historical contexts
8.3 Apply and interrogate the wider historical narratives within which modernist texts were produced, and within which they have subsequently been commonly read , including theories of modernity and textuality
8.4 Demonstrate an understanding of the varying literary modes and techniques employed in modernist literature,
8.5 Be conversant with the seminal critical writing about this period and more recent re-evaluations.

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

9.1 Read literature and criticism critically, assessing different critical approaches and the arguments behind them.
9.2 Structure, develop, and sustain complex arguments, and select and use primary and secondary material
9.3 Present an argument in a variety of formats, defend that argument, and use responses to refine their ideas
9.4 Demonstrate capacity to make connections and comparisons across the range of their reading and the understanding they bring to it.
9.5 Exercise of confident powers of textual analysis and fluent critical argument, an effective command of written English, together with an appropriate range of critical vocabulary and an understanding of its application.
9.6 Show a capacity for self-directed research and an understanding of how to interrogate and creatively deploy a variety of critical and theoretical positions and to weigh the importance of alternative perspectives.


  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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