Literature in Context module (EN21004)

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Module code


  • Level 2
  • Semester 2
  • English - School of Humanities
  • Coursework 100%
  • Tuesday Evening Tutorial Available


This module follows on both chronologically and thematically from ‘Literature and Society’ in semester 1. It covers the Victorian period to the contemporary era, using key texts to exemplify how writers respond to the accelerating social, political and cultural changes of their time, by either regenerating established literary modes or pioneering new ones.

It pays particular attention to how different kinds of fiction, poetry and drama develop from earlier traditions and movements, but also how they break from them. It examines how a range of writers engage with the conflicting forces of modernity and postmodernity to challenge previous ways of structuring and making sense of the world. Themes will include: industrialisation, urbanisation, technology and media, war, empire, totalitarianism and ecological crisis, but also decolonisation and movements for racial, social and gender equality. It examines these themes through a range of Victorian, 20th and 21st century texts including: fiction by Charles Dickens, H.G. Wells, James Joyce, Katherine Mansfield, Chinua Achebe, Bernard Malamud and Angela Carter; poetry by Robert Browning, Christina Rossetti, Alfred Lord Tennyson, TS Eliot, WB Yeats, Mina Loy, Kei Miller, Anne Sexton, Olga Broumas and Liz Lochhead; drama by Oscar Wilde, David Greig and Suzan-Lori Parks.


Dr Keith Williams

Teaching staff

  • Dr Keith Williams plus occasional tutorial assistants
  • Lectures by a range of specialists


The module will be delivered through weekly 2 x one-hour lectures plus weekly one-hour tutorials over eleven weeks.


  • Practical Criticism/Essay 1 (35%)
  • Essay 2 (50%)
  • Presentation (15%)


You will need copies of the following books

  • The Norton Anthology of English Literature, 10th edition, volumes for The Victorian Age and The Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries
  • Charles Dickens, Hard Times
  • H.G. Wells, The War of the Worlds
  • David Greig, Dunsinane
  • Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart
  • Kei Miller, The Cartographer Tries to Map his Way to Zion

(Texts below which are not contained in the Norton 10th ed. will be provided as digitised reading on the VLE or on a handout):

  • Robert Browning, ‘My Last Duchess’ (in the Norton)
  • Christina Rossetti. ‘In an Artist’s Studio’ (in the Norton)
  • Alfred Lord Tennyson, In Memoriam A.H.H. (extracts from the Norton)
  • Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest (in the Norton)
  • James Joyce, ‘Araby’ and ‘The Dead’ (in the Norton)
  • Katherine Mansfield, ‘The Garden Party’ and ‘The Daughters of the Late Colonel’ (in the Norton)
  • T.S. Eliot, Poems (in the Norton)
  • Mina Loy, ‘Three Moments in Paris’ available at:
  • Bernard Malamud, ‘The German Refugee’ (to be provided as digitised reading)
  • Suzan-Lori Parks, The America Play (available in the Main Library in digital form from A Sourcebook on African-American Performance: Plays, People, Movements ed. Annemarie Bean (Hoboken: Taylor & Francis, 2002).
  • Anne Sexton, 'Cinderella' and 'Snow White' (to be provided as digitised reading)
  • Olga Broumas, 'Cinderella' (to be provided as digitised reading)
  • Liz  Lochhead, 'Rapunzstiltskin' (to be provided as digitised reading)

Access the online reading list system


This module is available on following courses: