Undergraduate Course: Twenty-First Century Fiction (ENLI10379)
|School||School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures
||College||College of Humanities and Social Science
|Credit level (Normal year taken)||SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate)
||Availability||Not available to visiting students
|Summary||This course introduces students to the major themes, crises and debates surrounding the contemporary novel, exploring how authors have responded to the cultural and technological challenges of living in the new century. These novels allow us to examine a number of key issues and crises that have shaped contemporary experience, including (but not limited to) the events of 9/11 and the subsequent 'war on terror'; technology and internet surveillance; globalisation and the financial crash; and late modernity, temporal dislocation and historical memory. Readings of individual novels are supplemented by perspectives drawn from relevant critical and cultural theorists.
This course introduces students to the major themes, crises and debates surrounding the contemporary novel, exploring how authors have responded to the cultural and technological challenges of living in the new century. These novels allow us to examine a number of key issues and crises that have shaped contemporary experience, including (but not limited to) the events of 9/11 and the subsequent ¿war on terror¿; technology and internet surveillance; globalisation and the financial crash; and late modernity, temporal dislocation and historical memory. Readings of individual novels are supplemented by perspectives drawn from relevant critical and cultural theorists. This course will introduce students to the major themes, crises and debates surrounding the contemporary novel, exploring how authors have responded to the cultural and technological challenges of living in the new century. The course will begin by asking students to consider depictions of globalisation and urban environments in contemporary fiction ¿ thinking through authors¿ engagement with various aspects of late modernity in their novels, and their invention of new forms through which to narrate the ambivalence of an increasingly frenetic and fragmented identity. Students will therefore consider the ways in which the financial crash, anti-capitalism and progressive politics have triggered a novelistic search for solipsistic authenticity and a renewed faith in artistic sincerity. Thereafter the course will examine the new relationship between fiction and contemporary terrorism following the events of 9/11. It will explore the range of responses, from novelists and critics alike, to the terrorist attacks: we will consider why some influential commentators suggested that the novel as a form was in some way ¿humbled¿, or rendered trivial, by real life events, while others argued that novelists were among those best equipped to offer an appropriate imaginative response. Finally, students on the course will consider how twenty-first-century fiction engages with some of the new technologies that have transformed our understanding of privacy and subjectivity ¿ particularly internet surveillance, hacking, and biological warfare. This course provides fourth-year students with an opportunity to read and reflect on the most important fiction of the current time, exploring and interrogating the novelistic response to our twenty-first-century contemporaneity. Students on this course will gain a thorough and broad understanding of literature¿s relation to contemporary politics and culture; they will be encouraged to think about the ways in which authors have had to invent new forms to narrate a reimagined subjectivity; and they will be asked to consider whether the novel remains an appropriate or even credible medium for relating shared cultural life in the new century. Readings of individual novels will be supplemented by perspectives drawn from a variety of relevant critical and cultural theorists. Students will be expected to read primary texts each week in advance of class; texts on the course may include: Zadie Smith, White Teeth (2000) Ian McEwan, Atonement (2001) Margaret Atwood, Oryx and Crake (2003) Don DeLillo, Falling Man (2007) Joseph O¿Neill, Netherland (2008) Jennifer Egan, A Visit from the Goon Squad (2010) Teju Cole, Open City (2011) Zia Haider Rahman, In the Light of What We Know (2014) Peter Carey, Amnesia (2014)
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
||Other requirements|| None
|Additional Costs|| Essential Course Texts
Course Delivery Information
|Academic year 2017/18, Not available to visiting students (SS1)
|Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info)
Seminar/Tutorial Hours 20,
Other Study Hours 10,
Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4,
Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours
|Additional Information (Learning and Teaching)
one hour per week Autonomous Learning Group
|Assessment (Further Info)
|Additional Information (Assessment)
||Course essay of 2,500 words: 30%
Take home Examination essay of 3,000 words: 60%
Class participation: 10%
||Written feedback will be provided on all aspects of assessed work. Students will also have the opportunity for further face to face discussion on written coursework and class participation.
|No Exam Information
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
- - Construct original, clear and coherent arguments about contemporary literature's depictions of terrorism, globalisation and new technologies.
- - Analyse literary texts using recognised methods of literary criticism to substantiate and illustrate those arguments.
- - Evaluate and assess ideas from works of secondary criticism in order to bring them to bear on their own analyses of twenty-first-century literature.
- - Examine literary texts for evidence of new innovations in contemporary fiction, and illustrate their findings with examples from the novels on the course.
- - Orally present the results of research undertaken individually and as part of a small group, respond critically to such research undertaken by others, and critically evaluate the importance of such material for an understanding of the chief themes of the course.
|Compulsory: Zadie Smith, White Teeth. London: Hamish Hamilton, 2000. |
Ian McEwan, Atonement. London: Jonathan Cape, 2001.
Margaret Atwood, Oryx and Crake. London: Bloomsbury, 2003.
Don DeLillo, Falling Man. London: Scribner, 2007.
Joseph O¿Neill, Netherland. London: Fourth Estate, 2008.
Jennifer Egan, A Visit from the Goon Squad. London: Random House, 2010.
Teju Cole, Open City. London: Faber and Faber, 2011.
Zia Haider Rahman, In the Light of What We Know. London: Picador, 2014.
Peter Carey, Amnesia. London: Faber and Faber, 2014.
Recommended: Jean Baudrillard, The Spirit of Terrorism. London: Verso, 2002.
Zygmunt Bauman, Liquid Modernity. Cambridge: Polity, 2000.
Catherine Belsey, Culture and the Real. London: Routledge, 2005.
Peter Boxall, Twenty-First-Century Fiction: A Critical Introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2013.
Peter Boxall, Don DeLillo: The Possibility of Fiction. London and New York: Routledge, 2006.
Jason Burke, The 9/11 Wars. London: Penguin, 2011.
Cathy Caruth, ¿Unclaimed Experience: Trauma and the Possibility of History.¿ Yale French Studies 79 (1991).
Peter Childs and James Green. Aesthetics and Ethics in Twenty-First Century British Novels. London: Bloomsbury, 2013.
Noam Chomsky. Hegemony or Survival: America¿s Quest for Global Dominance. London: Penguin, 2004.
Teju Cole, Every Day is for the Thief. London: Faber and Faber, 2014.
David Cowart, ¿Thirteen Ways of Looking: Jennifer Egan¿s A Visit from the Goon Squad.¿ Critique: Studies in Contemporary Fiction 56.3 (2015): 241-254.
Raoul Eshelman, Performatism, or the End of Postmodernism. Aurora: Davies Group, 2008.
Hal Foster. The Return of the Real: The Avant-Garde at the End of the Century. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2001.
Jeremy Green, Late Postmodernism: American Fiction at the Millennium. New York: Palgrave, 2005.
Martin Halliwell and Catherine Morley, eds. American Thought and Culture in the 21st Century. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2013.
Patrick Hayden, Cosmopolitan Global Politics. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2005.
Dominic Head, Ian McEwan. Manchester: Manchester UP, 2007.
Dominic Head. The State of the Novel: Britain and Beyond. Oxford: Blackwell, 2008.
Ursula K. Heise, Chronoschisms: Time, Narrative and Postmodernism. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1997.
Ursula K. Heise. Sense of Place and Sense of Planet: The Environmental Imagination of the Global. New York: Oxford UP, 2008.
Andreas Huyssen, Present Pasts: Urban Palimpsests and the Politics of Memory. Stanford: Stanford UP, 2003.
Fredric Jameson, Postmodernism, or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism. London: Verso, 1991.
José López and Garry Potter, eds. After Postmodernism: An Introduction to Critical Realism. London: Continuum, 2001.
Catherine Morley, ¿¿How Do We Write about This?¿ The Domestic and the Global in the Post-9/11 Novel.¿ Journal of American Studies 45.4 (2011): 717-731.
Jeffrey T. Nealon, Post-Postmodernism, or, The Cultural Logic of Just-in-Time Capitalism. Stanford: Stanford UP, 2012.
Patrick O¿Donnell and Robert Con Davis, eds. Intertextuality and Contemporary American Fiction. Baltimore: John Hopkins UP, 1989.
Timothy Parrish, ed. The Cambridge Companion to Philip Roth. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2007.
Stanley Renshon, The 50% American: Immigration and National Identity in an Age of Terror. Washington, DC: Georgetown UP, 2005.
Roland Robertson, Globalization: Social Theory and Global Culture. London: Sage, 1992.
Berthold Schoene, The Cosmopolitan Novel. Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP, 2009.
Zadie Smith, ¿Two Paths for the Novel.¿ The New York Review of Books 20 Nov. 2008.
Philip Tew and Rod Mengham, eds. British Fiction Today. London: Continuum, 2006.
Kim Toffoletti, Cyborgs and Barbie Dolls: Feminism, Popular Culture and the Posthuman Body. London: Tauris, 2007.
Kristiaan Versluys, Out of the Blue: September 11 and the Novel. New York: Columbia UP, 2009.
Sarah L. Wasserman, ¿Looking Away from 9/11: The Optics of Joseph O¿Neill¿s Netherland.¿ Contemporary Literature 55.2 (2014): 249-269.
James Wood, The Fun Stuff and Other Essays. London: Jonathan Cape, 2013.
Jock Young, The Vertigo of Late Modernity. Los Angeles: Sage, 2007.
|Graduate Attributes and Skills
|Additional Class Delivery Information
||Seminar: 2 hours a week for 10 weeks;
plus attendance at Autonomous Learning Group for one hour each week - at time to be arranged
|Keywords||Contemporary,twenty-first century,terrorism,avant garde,globalism,technology
|Course organiser||Dr Alexandra Lawrie
Tel: (0131 6)50 8968
|Course secretary||Ms Sheila Strathdee
Tel: (0131 6)50 3619