Modernist to Contemporary Literature, 1901 to the Present day

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Module code


  • Level 2
  • Semester 2
  • English - School of Humanities
  • Coursework 60% Examination 40%
  • Tuesday Evening Tutorial Available


The module surveys 20th and 21st century writing, paying particular attention to the way fiction, poetry and drama develops out of earlier traditions and tendencies and how they break from earlier movements.

It examines how the forces of modernity - industrialisation, urbanisation, technological changes, war, empire, migration challenges previous ways of structuring and making sense of the world through a range of 20th and 21st century texts including fiction by Joseph Conrad, James Joyce, Katherine Mansfield, Chinua Achebe, Angela Carter, Richard Matheson and Ian Rankin, poetry by TS Eliot, WB Yeats, Mina Loy, WH Auden, Seamus Heaney, Geoffrey Hill, Philip Larkin, Carol Ann Duffy and Margaret Atwood, and drama by Harold Pinter, Caryl Churchill and Samuel Beckett.


Dr Keith Williams

Teaching staff

  • Dr Gail Low
  • Dr James Morris
  • Dr Heather Yeung
  • Dr Keith Williams
  • plus occasional tutors


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


  • Practical Criticism/Essay 1 (20%)
  • Essay 2 (40%)
  • One 2-hour examination (40%)


You will need copies of the following books

  • The Norton Anthology of English Literature, 9th edition
  • Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart (in Norton 8th ed. but not in Norton 9th ed.)
  • Caryl Churchill, Top Girls
  • Michel Faber, Under the Skin
  • George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four
  • Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own

(Texts below which are not contained in the Norton 9th ed. will be provided as digitised reading on the VLE or on a handout):

  • James Joyce, ‘Araby’ and ‘The Dead’ (in the Norton)
  • Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness (in the Norton)
  • Katherine Mansfield, ‘The Garden Party’ (in the Norton)
  • T.S. Eliot, poems (in the Norton)
  • Mina Loy, poems (to be provided by lecturer)
  • W.H. Auden, poems (in the Norton)
  • W.B. Yeats, poems (in the Norton)
  • Bernard Malamud, ‘The German Refugee’ (to be provided as digitised reading on VLE)
  • Keiji Nakazawa, ‘I Saw It’ (to be provided by the lecturer)
  • Harold Pinter, The Dumb Waiter (in the Norton)
  • Angela Carter, ‘The Bloody Chamber’ (to be provided as digitised reading on VLE)
  • Margaret Atwood, ‘Siren Song’ (to be provided on VLE)
  • Carol Ann Duffy, ‘Medusa’, ‘Mrs Lazarus’ (in the Norton)
  • Geoffrey Hill, ‘September Song’ and Seamus Heaney ‘Casualty’ (in the Norton)

Access the online reading list system