Roots of Transformation - LART3120

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Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2024 to 2025.


The module will prepare students to think critically about the forces shaping ways of being in the contemporary world, with attention to how 'the modern' has emerged from innovations and continuities in modes of production, reproduction and communication in the past two centuries. This module examines the technological and economic revolutions that shape human cultures, with a particular focus from the 17th to the early 20th century roots of modernity and the impacts of recent and developing technological innovations. Students will be introduced to basic issues in scientific and technological developments impacting upon the contemporary world and will, building on their understanding of these, investigate their ramifications in social practices and ideations, in philosophical discourse and in the fields of aesthetic and literary production. Students will be required to think critically about the ways different disciplines respond to and are shaped by technological and social developments, and will be encouraged to engage these from a cross-disciplinary perspective. Overall, the module will develop multi-disciplinary understandings of the history of the contemporary world and will encourage students to become aware of, and to understand, the ‘unseen’ influences which enable and constrain our ways of being so as to both work with them and, where appropriate, seek to shape them.


Contact hours

Total Contact Hours: 22

Private Study Hours: 128

Total Study Hours: 150


BA in Liberal Arts and BA in Liberal Arts with a Year Abroad

Method of assessment

* Reading Diary (20%)
* Essay 1, 1000 words (30%)
* Essay 2, 2000 words (50%)

Reassessment Instrument: 100% coursework

Indicative reading

* Buck-Morss, S. (2000) Dreamworld and Catastrophe: the Passing of Mass Utopia in East and West. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press

* Butler, C.S. (1994) Early Modernism: Literature, Music and Painting in Europe, 1900-1916, Oxford: Clarendon Press

* Foster, Hal et al (2016) Art Since 1900: Modernism, Antimodernism, Postmodernism, London: Thames and Hudson, 3rd edition 2016

* Cahoone, L.E., ed. (1996) From Modernism to Postmodernism: An Anthology, Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press

* Charney, L. and Schwartz, V. eds. (1995) Cinema and the Invention of Modern Life, Berkeley: University of Berkeley Press.

* Kern, S. (1983) The Culture of Time and Space, 1880-1918, Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press

* Ortolano, G. (2009) The Two Cultures Controversy: Science, Literature and Cultural Politics in Postwar Britain, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

* Sherry, Vincent ed. (2017) The Cambridge History of Modernism, Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2017

Please note there is no module specification available for this module.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

8.1 Demonstrate knowledge of the forces and events shaping contemporary thought and behaviour across a range of practices and disciplines.

8.2 Demonstrate an awareness of the relation of key ideas informing representations and critiques of the contemporary period with the matrices of technological and social changes in which they have developed.

8.3 Demonstrate an understanding of the varying ways in which different disciplines and practices – across the arts, the social sciences, history and politics – conceptualise the contemporary period and its concerns.

8.4 Demonstrate a knowledge and understanding of forms of representation that have emerged in the contemporary period.

8.5 Show an ability to relate issues in contemporary politics and society to developments in science and technology.

8.6 Demonstrate an ability to formulate and intellectually respond to the problems and challenges shaping contemporary culture and society.


  1. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  2. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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