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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures : English Literature

Undergraduate Course: Novel and the Collapse of Humanism (ENLI10120)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Literatures, Languages and Cultures CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course examines the transition from the nineteenth-century 'realist' novel to the 'modern' novel of the late-nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It focuses, in particular, upon the cultural and philosophical developments that helped to define and situate embryonic literary modernity. Readings of individual novels will be supplemented by other perspectives drawn from Nietzsche, Heidegger, Sartre and the modern continental philosophical tradition.
Course description This course has three particular aims in mind. The first is to develop students' understanding of literary modernism by tracing its origins back to the 1860s and 1870s (rather than beginning in the post-Edwardian period as it is usually presented) and connecting whatever we think of as the "modern" in literary modernism and modern culture to a cluster of anxieties surrounding the fate and centrality of Western culture (including, but not limited to, the so-called "death of God" announced by Nietzsche and emerging movements of decolonisation which threatened European hegemony and its consolidated cultural capital). The second is to link this longer view of the emergence of literary modernism to a transformation or radicalisation of the co-called "Classic Realist novel" (represented on the course by George Eliot's Middlemarch), so that students are able to cultivate a much sharper sense of the relationship between literary "realism" and "modernism" more generally. And, third, the course aims to extend students' understanding of literary modernism by introducing them to a number of brilliant and provocative "post-realist" or "limit-modernist" texts from the wider European tradition unavailable on other departmental courses (such as Doestoevsky's Notes From Underground, Flaubert's Madame Bovary, Thomas Mann's Death in Venice, Franz Kafka's The Trial and Celine's Journey to the End of the Night) so that they get a much fuller and broader sense of the contexts and challenges of modern writing. As the course unfolds we will open up a wide range of questions for discussion including the nature of modern community and the (loss of) foundations of the nineteenth-century English State (Middlemarch), gender, power and patriarchy in modern culture (Middlemarch, Madame Bovary, A Passage to India), race, power and imperialism (Heart of Darkness, A Passage to India, Journey to the End of the Night), what do we mean by the "human" and "human rights" (Notes from Underground, Journey to the End of the Night), the origins of the modern totalitarian state (The Trial, Journey to the End of the Night), empire and fascism, and the relationship between misogyny modern constructions of masculinity.

On the basis of students' preparatory reading, seminars will be used to examine the texts carefully through close-reading of key passages. The seminars will be discussion-based, focused on developing arguments and developing different contexts within which to understand the key themes of the course. In the first seminar, the course organiser will give a course overview and explain some of the central ideas that shaped the selection of course texts.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: ( English Literature 1 (ENLI08001) OR Scottish Literature 1 (ENLI08016)) AND ( English Literature 2 (ENLI08003) OR Scottish Literature 2 (ENLI08004))
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Additional Costs Essential course texts
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesA MINIMUM of 4 college/university level literature courses at grade B or above (should include no more than one introductory level literature course). Related courses such as cross disciplinary, "Freshman Seminars", civilisation or creative writing classes are not considered for admission to this course.
Applicants should also note that, as with other popular courses, meeting the minimum does NOT guarantee admission. In making admissions decisions preference will be given to students who achieve above the minimum requirement with the typical visiting student admitted to this course
having four or more literature classes at grade A.

** as numbers are limited, visiting students should contact the Visiting Student Office directly for admission to this course **
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. The course will develop the students' knowledge of the literature of the period in question, with specific regard to a number of major genres and intellectual issues.
  2. Particular attention will be paid to the relationship between humanism and anti-humanism, text and empire, literature and decadence, and existentialism and the crisis of modern 'man'.
  3. The course will enhance their ability to read critically and comparatively and to engage with an area of specialist research not otherwise available to students at Edinburgh.
Reading List
Week One: Course Introduction.

Week Two: The Limits of Realism: George Eliot's Middlemarch (1871) 1

Week Three: The State of the Modern: Middlemarch 2.

Week Four: Performing Modernity: Gustave Flaubert's Madame Bovary (1856)

Week Five: What do we Mean by the Modern?: Fyodor Dosoteovesky's Notes From Underground (1864)

Week Six: Modernism, Race, Imperialism: Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness (1899).

Week Seven: The End of the West? Thomas Mann's Death in Venice (1912).

Week Eight: Essay Completion Week.

Week Nine: Modernity and the Poetics of Imperial Nostalgia: E. M. Forster's A Passage to India (1924).

Week Ten: Modernity and Totalitarianism: Franz Kafka's The Trial (1925).

Week Eleven: Modernity and the Poetics of Fascism: Louis-Ferdinand Celine's Journey to the end of the Night (1932).
Additional Information
Course URL
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Special Arrangements Numbers are limited and students taking degrees not involving English or Scottish literature need the written approval of the head of English Literature
Additional Class Delivery Information Seminar: 2 hour(s) per week for 11 week(s). Plus attendance at Autonomous Learning Group for 1 hour per week - times to be arranged.
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Lee Spinks
Tel: (0131 6)50 3616
Course secretaryMs June Cahongo
Tel: (0131 6)50 3620
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