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Study information

Modernism and Modernity: Literature 1900-1960

Module titleModernism and Modernity: Literature 1900-1960
Module codeEAS2103
Academic year2024/5
Module staff
Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

Modernism and Modernity explores a wide range of British, American and Irish authors from the first half of the twentieth century (1900-1960). In different ways, these authors sought to challenge established ways of using language and reinvent literature itself. You will study the texts in relation to their political, aesthetic and critical contexts. Particular attention is paid to innovation and experimentation, to the emergence and development of literary and cultural movements and to literatures’ perceived responsibility in a time of change. You will learn skills in contextual and historical analysis, and independent research.

Module aims - intentions of the module

  • As well as studying literary texts in depth, this module aims to strengthen your skills in contextual and historical analysis and research. Lectures and seminars will introduce key concepts and provide advice on further independent research. Study group meetings and prepared seminar presentations will give you the opportunity to develop your own approaches to the syllabus texts and other materials.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Demonstrate an informed appreciation of major literary works of the period 1900-1960
  • 2. Demonstrate an understanding of relevant literary and cultural movements
  • 3. Demonstrate an appreciation of the ways in which literature engages with key cultural and social issues of twentieth-century Britain, Ireland and America

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 4. Demonstrate an ability to analyse the literature of an earlier era and to relate its concerns and its modes of expression to its historical context
  • 5. Demonstrate an ability to interrelate texts and discourses specific to their own discipline with issues in the wider context of cultural and intellectual history
  • 6. Demonstrate an ability to understand and analyse relevant theoretical ideas, and to apply these ideas to literary texts

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 7. Through module work and group presentations, demonstrate communication skills, and an ability to work both individually and in groups
  • 8. Through essay-writing, demonstrate appropriate research and bibliographic skills, a capacity to construct a coherent, substantiated argument, and a capacity to write clear and correct prose
  • 9. Through research for module participation and essays, demonstrate proficiency in information retrieval and analysis
  • 10. Through research, module discussion, and essay writing demonstrate a capacity to question assumptions, to distinguish between fact and opinion, and to reflect critically on their own learning process
  • 11. Through sitting their final exam, demonstrate proficiency in the use of memory and in the development, organisation, and expression of ideas under pressure of time

Syllabus plan

Whilst the content may vary from year to year, it is envisioned that it will cover some or all of the following topics: 

  • Introducing Modernism: Modernist Manifestos; Joseph Conrad’s The Secret Agent 
  • Critical Contexts
  • Modernism and Visual Culture: Gertrude Stein, Three Lives
  • Modernism and the Cinema
  • Modernist Subjectivities: T. S. Eliot, The Waste Land
  • Modernism, Colonialism and Nationalism: James Joyce, Dubliners
  • Modernism, Consumer Culture and Fashion
  • Modernism, Nostalgia and Elegy: Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse
  • Modernism, Medicine, and the Body
  • Modernism and Sexuality: D. H. Lawrence, Lady Chatterley's Lover
  • Regional Modernism: William Faulkner, As I Lay Dying
  • Modernism, Obscenity and Censorship
  • The 1930s, Class and Social Change: Jean Rhys, Voyage in the Dark
  • Late Modernism: Elizabeth Bowen, Selected Short Stories
  • After Modernism: Samuel Beckett, Endgame
  • Modernist Legacies/Postmodernism

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled learning and teaching17Lectures
Scheduled learning and teaching22Seminars
Guided independent study33Study group preparation and meetings
Guided independent study70Seminar preparation (individual)
Guided independent study158Reading, research and essay preparation

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay1000 words1-10Peer feedback with opportunity for office hours follow-up

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay452000 words1-10Feedback sheet with opportunity for tutorial follow-up
Examination452 hours1-11Feedback sheet with opportunity for tutorial follow-up
Module participation10ContinuousOral feedback with opportunity for office hours follow-up

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
EssayEssay1-10Referral/Deferral period
ExaminationExamination1-11Referral/Deferral period
Module participationRepeat study or MitigationReferral/Deferral period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to submit a further assessment as necessary. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Primary Reading:

  • Joseph Conrad's The Secret Agent
  • Samuel Beckett, Endgame
  • Elizabeth Bowen, Selected Short Stories
  • T. S. Eliot, The Waste Land
  • William Faulkner, As I Lay Dying
  • D. H. Lawrence, Lady Chatterley's Lover
  • James Joyce, Dubliners
  • Jean Rhys, Voyage in the Dark
  • Gertrude Stein, Three Lives
  • Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse

Secondary Reading:

  • David Bradshaw and Kevin J. H. Dettmar, A Companion to Modernist Literature and Culture (Blackwell, 2006)
  • Jane Goldman, Modernism, 1910-1945: Image to Apocalypse (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 2004)
  • Vicki Mahaffey, Modernist Literature: Challenging Fictions (Blackwell, 2007)
  • Laura Marcus, Michele Mendelssohn and Kirsten E. Shepherd-Barr, Late Victorian Into Modern (Oxford UP, 2016)
  • Ulrika Maude and Mark Nixon, The Bloomsbury Companion to Modernist Literature (Bloomsbury, 2018)
  • Rachel Potter, Modernist Literature (Edinburgh UP, 2012)
  • Bonnie Kime Scott, The Gender of Modernism: A Critical Anthology (Indiana UP, 1990)

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Key words search

English, Literature, 20th Century, modernism, modernity

Credit value30
Module ECTS


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