Transatlantic Modernism module (EN41036)

Study Modernist literature across national boundaries, reading both British and American writers of the early 20th century

On this page


Module code


This module focuses on major innovations in literary style and ambition in the Modernist period through the study of both British and American writers. The content of this module will form an important foundation for further studies.

You will approach texts and issues through a variety of topics. Examples of what you will study include:

  • transatlantic conversations and influences
  • the impact of technology
  • the influence of film
  • intertextuality (where texts interact with each other through quotes, references, etc.)
  • formal experimentation (where writers consciously depart from stylistic norms)
  • questions of gender, sexuality, race, and colonialism
  • the politics of revolution and war
  • theories of the unconscious (i.e. how writers are unconsciously affected by their culture, upbringing, and surroundings)
  • the ‘anti-Modernism’ of the 1930s
  • the influence of ‘little magazines’

What you will learn

In this module, you will:

  • gain knowledge of fiction, poetry, and drama using key examples of literary innovation from 1900-1950
  • develop a critical understanding of those texts and their authors' lives within the diverse contexts of Modernism
  • extend your skills in the interpretation of complex texts
  • grow your confidence in essay writing

By the end of this module you will be able to:

  • make insightful comparisons between the themes and styles of the major writers of the period
  • productively use manuscripts, archives, and other research resources
  • develop an independent research question and follow it through to a completed written essay - important training for postgraduate studies

Assignments / assessment

  • class presentation (20%)
  • close reading essay 2,000 words (30%)
  • research essay 4,000 words (50%)
    • you will have the opportunity for a one-to-one meeting with staff to discuss your Research Essay plans

This module does not have a final exam.

Teaching methods / timetable

  • lectures
    • introduction to weekly readings, providing context for the author's life and work, and rehearsing major critical arguments and issues
  • seminars
    • group discussions, including time for delivering and receiving feedback on class presentations


This module is available on following courses: