Literature in Context: Fiction since 1800

Module summary

Module code: COML1053
Level: 5
Credits: 30
School: Liberal Arts and Sciences
Department: Humanities and Social Sciences
Module Coordinator(s): Katarina Stenke


Pre and co requisites

Passed Level 4


This course aims to:

• Introduce students to significant developments in prose fiction from 1800 to the present, as appropriate.
• Introduce students to the main literary and cultural theories used to analyse prose fiction.
• Enable students to understand the complexity of literary and cultural form.
• Enable students to develop critical abilities in the analysis of texts.
• Develop in students skills of academic argument, essay writing and research (both electronic and book-based).
• Enhance student knowledge and employability through the formal provision of the Portfolio.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this course a student will be able to:

1 Understand the development and complexity of the key forms of the novel and the short story.
2 Accurately describe relations between texts and the cultural environment.
3 Demonstrate a broad understanding of the history of prose fiction in the nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first centuries.
4 Use a range of theoretical approaches in the study of prose fiction.
5 Demonstrate a detailed critical awareness through close textual analysis with the use of theory where appropriate.
6 Write cogent critical essays that offer a structured argument related to the content of the course.
7 Show initiative in discussing prose fiction, including awareness of the possibility of more than one interpretation.
8 Show enhanced skills of academic argument, essay writing and research (both electronic and book-based).
9 Reflect on their development of subject-specific and transferable skills, and their enhanced knowledge of the job market.

Indicative content

The precise content may vary from year to year to suit the individual cohort and reflect student feedback. However, in broad outline students will spend the first term studying significant novels of the nineteenth century alongside later filmic adaptations of those same texts, and the second term following the development of narrative form in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. The first term would generally begin with Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park (1814) and Patricia Rozema’s cinematic adaptation (1999), continue with the devices of realism in Elizabeth Gaskell’s Mary Barton (1848), proceed via Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles (1892), before concluding with Conrad’s Heart of Darkness (1899) and Coppola’s Apocalypse Now (1979). The second term would begin with modernism as manifested in the novel (Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf) and short stories (works by Katherine Mansfield), and proceed through the twentieth century taking in significant developments in relation to culture (e.g. social realism), genre (e.g. the musical) and theory (e.g. deconstruction). The contemporary period would be represented by postmodern works such as Michael Cunningham’s The Hours (1998) and J.M. Coetzee’s Diary of a Bad Year (2007).