Literature and Society - SOCI7370

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Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2024 to 2025.


This course will provide students with a sociological understanding of the changing and central importance of literature (in its myriad forms, both fiction and non-fiction) for contemporary society, including the emergence of specific genres which reflect the changing demographics and social and political concerns of Britain, as well as some other societies. These genres and concerns have been articulated through a diverse array of protagonists in contemporary literature, varying in terms of gender, sexuality, religion, and class. Not only do we talk of 'chick lit', but we also read and consume books about vampires and zombies as symbolic vehicles of social otherness. Contemporary literature enables us to examine the ways in which texts address the past, changing social norms, the process of self-discovery and revelation, and the changing boundaries of private and public, in increasingly diverse societies. This module will also emphasize the importance of literature in fostering social reflection, through the ways in which important moral and ethical concerns are often addressed in a variety of genres. While most of the texts are relatively recent, this module also includes a small number of older works of ethnography.


Contact hours

Total contact hours: 22
Private study hours: 128
Total study hours: 150


BA Sociology and associated programmes
BA Cultural Studies and Media and associated programmes
Available as a wild module

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods

Essay (3000 words) (40%)
Seminar Participation (10%)
Examination, 2 hour (50%)

Reassessment methods

Reassessment Instrument: 100% coursework

Indicative reading

Robert Coles (2010) Handing One Another Along, Cambridge: Harvard University Press
James Agee & Walker Evans (1941) Let us Now Praise Famous Men, Boston: Houghton Mifflin
Lionel Shriver (2003) We Need to Talk about Kevin, New York: Perseus Books
Hanif Kureishi (1990) The Buddha of Suburbia, London: Faber & Faber
Jeanette Winterson (1985) Oranges are not the Only Fruit, London: Vintage
J.M. Coetzee (1999) Disgrace, London: Vintage

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 in-depth understanding of the changing role and consumption of literature(s) in contemporary society, in our media
obsessed society.
8.2 Demonstrate a critical and systematic knowledge of how different genres address particular social experience and concerns (and capture
a specific zeitgeist), give voice to different types of protagonists, and how they are targeted at specific audiences/demographics.
8.3 Achieve an in-depth and critical understanding of some of the key texts associated with disparate genres of literature.
8.4 Critically analyse how social class, ethnicity, gender, age, and sexuality may influence how readers read and understand texts, at different
historical moments and places.
8.5 Achieve a sophisticated and nuanced understanding of how different types of literature (both fiction and non-fiction) can foster our ability
to reflect upon our and others' social experiences, often by addressing key moral and ethical concerns in society.
8.6 Demonstrate a systematic understanding of the relationship between printed literature and other cultural forms and media, especially in a
context of media technologies and cultural globalization.

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

9.1 Demonstrate a systematic understanding of key aspects of their field of study, including the acquisition of coherent and detailed
9.2 Demonstrate written communicative skills through essays.
9.3 Demonstrate oral communicative skills through seminars participation.
9.4 Critically assess the argumentation and reasoning of authors.
9.5 Manage their own learning.
9.6 Engage in independent thinking and critical analysis.


  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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