Modernism - EN689

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2017-18 2018-19
Canterbury Autumn
View Timetable
5 30 (15) DR AL Mildenberg




Not available as wild



This module features key modernist texts, for example the work of Ezra Pound, H.D., T.S. Eliot, Gertrude Stein, Wallace Stevens, James Joyce, Virginia Woolf and Jean Rhys. It also makes substantial reference to key philosophical theories of modernity and textuality. The literary works are taken mostly from a restricted period 1910-1930. One focus in the module will be the notion of the artist as applied to the writer as an art-practitioner. Other texts which might form part of the curriculum may include a limited selection of works by Mina Loy, Wyndham Lewis,, Elizabeth Bowen, F.T. Marinetti, Samuel Beckett, Georg Lukács, Edmund Husserl, Martin Heidegger, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Walter Benjamin, Theodor W. Adorno, Jacques Derrida and Paul De Man. Other topics include modes of representation, language and experience, colonialism and modernism, textuality and identity, war and democracy, class and politics, cosmopolitanism and bohemianism, sex, morality and city life. This material requires both theoretical and historical orientation, as well as skill in distilling significance from complex literary artefacts with regard to the network of mediations which both bind such works to their apparent context and appear to dislocate them.


This module appears in:

Contact hours

Ten two-hour seminars and ten one-hour lectures

Method of assessment

50% coursework: seminar performance (20%), 2 essays of 2,500 words each (40% each);
50% examination - 3-hour paper

Preliminary reading

Modernism: An Anthology, edited by Lawrence Rainey (Blackwell)
James Joyce, Ulysses (Penguin)
James Joyce, Ulysses: Annotated Students’ Edition ( Penguin)
[more expensive but contains helpful notes]
Virginia Woolf, The Waves (Oxford University Press)
Jean Rhys, Good Morning, Midnight (Penquin)

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

See the library reading list for this module (Medway)

Learning outcomes

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

1. Develop an understanding of modernist literary forms
2. Become able to relate the set texts to their relevant literary, critical, and historical contexts
3. Learn to 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
4. Develop an understanding of the varying literary modes and techniques employed in modernist literature,
5. Be conversant with the seminal critical writing about this period and more recent re-evaluations.

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

1. Ability to read literature and criticism critically, assessing different critical approaches and the arguments behind them.
2. Ability to structure, develop, and sustain complex arguments, and how to select and use primary and secondary material
3. Ability to present an argument orally, how to defend that argument, and how to use responses to refine their ideas
4. Acquisition of appropriate skills as readers, writers and presenters.
5. Capacity to make connections and comparisons across the range of their reading and the understanding they bring to it.
6. 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.
7. Understanding how to interrogate and apply a variety of theoretical positions and to weigh the importance of alternative perspectives.

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