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

Postgraduate Course: Reality Hunger: Image and Appetite in Contemporary Fiction (ENLI11252)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Literatures, Languages and Cultures CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThe module will offer a wide-ranging exploration of contemporary literature through the framework of appetite, desire, and abjection. Appetite and artistry are closely linked in literary explorations, as Kafka's famously starving artist attests. On this course we'll look at a number of hunger artists, investigating bodily, sexual, and intellectual appetites which we explore here particularly in a post-#MeToo moment against questions of authority, consent, and power within the framework of desire.

The course is also intended to introduce and interrogate the construction of the contemporary and to follow shifts in literary schools and critical approaches over the last twenty years, where our starting point for conceptualising 'the contemporary' is the twenty-first century. Following the work of theorists such as Peter Boxall, Roger Eaglestone, and Rachel Carroll we will ask what it means to cultivate a contemporary sensibility or a sense of the contemporary and will explore questions of appearance, image, affect, and experiment.
Course description This course is designed to introduce students to the complications of periodising the contemporary using intimate frameworks to investigate questions of power, authority, and exchange. The module enables students to approach the legacy of theory in contemporary literature across diverse forms and to explore efforts to renew the reader-author contract in post-1990s literature. Students will be introduced to a range of theoretical schools such as affect theory, image fiction, New Sincerity, neoliberalism (as a mode of literary periodisation), and conceptual writing. Students who complete this course successfully will develop a knowledge and understanding of a range and variety of contemporary writing in a wide context considering an expansive model of 'contemporariness' over a nation-state based framework.

Students will be asked to read both literary and critical material each week and to discuss this in ALGs. The course is assessed by two pieces of written work: one essay to be completed during term-time and one to be written during the exam period. Written feedback will be provided on each element of assessment, and further oral follow-up feedback from the tutor will be available for anyone who would like it.

Section One: On Being in the Text
Week 1: What A Boy Wants
Franz Kafka, 'The Hunger Artist' (1922)
David Foster Wallace, Brief Interviews with Hideous Men (1999)
Reading: Adam Kelly, 'David Foster Wallace and the New Sincerity in American Fiction,' in Consider David Foster Wallace ed. David Hering (2010)

Week 2: Authority, Appetite, Autofiction
Chris Kraus, Aliens and Anorexia (2000)
Reading: Rachel Carroll, 'How Soon is Now: Constructing the Contemporary/Gendering the Experimental,' Contemporary Women's Writing, 9: 1 (2015)

Week 3: Celebrity and Self-Sacrifice
Jennifer Egan, Look at Me (2001)
Reading: Sherry Turkle, 'True Confessions' in Alone Together (2010); 'Liquid Surveillance as Post-Panoptic' in Liquid Surveillance: A Conversation, Zygmunt Bauman and David Lyon (2013)
Excerpts from: Dave Eggers, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius (2000)

Week 4: Memoir
Roxanne Gay, Hunger (2017)
Reading: Excerpts from Augustine, Montaigne, Rousseau
Ritty Lukose, 'Decolonizing Feminism in the #MeToo Era,' The Cambridge Journal of Anthropology, 36: 2 (2018)

Week 5: Intimate Knowledge
Jenny Zhang, Sour Heart (2017)
Wenying Xu, Eating Identities (2008), 'Introduction,' 1 - 17

Section Two: It's Not What It Looks Like
Week 6: Plastic Needs
Alexandra Kleeman, You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine (2015)
Nikolas Rose, 'Technologies of Autonomy,' in Governing the Soul (1999)

Week 7: I. Really. Prefer. Roses.
Oyinkan Braithwaite, My Sister the Serial Killer (2019)
Excerpts from: Eva Illouz, Cold Intimacies: The Making of Emotional Capitalism (2007)

Week 8: Slender Means
Sally Rooney, Normal People (2018)
Lauren Berlant, 'Thinking About Feeling Historical,' Emotion, Space, and Society (2008)
Excerpts from: Timothy Bewes, Reification, Or the Anxiety of Late Capitalism (2002)

Week 9: Wanting Nothing
Anna Burns, Milkman (2018)
Reading: P. Malone, 'Disarming Obliqueness and Measures of Obliviousness,' Textual Practice (2020)

Week 10: The Capaciousness of Desire
Maggie Nelson, The Argonauts (2015)
'The Queer Art of Failure,' 87 - 123, 'Queer Negativity and Radical Passivity' 123 - 147 in J. Halberstam, The Queer Art of Failure (2011)
Moira Donegan, 'Gay as in Happy,' n+1, Fall 2015

Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2020/21, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  4
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 196 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) 10% presentation and contribution
90% course essay
Feedback Detailed written feedback will be provided on each element of assessment, and further oral follow up feedback from the tutor will be available from anybody who would like it.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Construct original and clear arguments that demonstrate an understanding of conceptualisations of the contemporary within literary studies.
  2. Analyse contemporary literature using critical theoretical methodologies such as New Sincerity, affect theory, and conceptual writing to substantiate and illustrate those arguments.
  3. Extrapolate, evaluate and assess ideas from a range of critical sources in order to bring them to bear on their analyses of contemporary literature.
  4. Demonstrate the ability to apply skills of close reading and of comparative analysis that reflects a critical understanding of similarities and differences across and between texts, genres and spaces.
  5. Present the results of research undertaken individually and as part of a small group, respond judiciously to such research undertaken by others, and critically evaluate the importance of such material for an understanding of the chief themes of the course.
Reading List
Rachel Carroll, 'How Soon Is Now/Gendering the Contemporary,' in Contemporary Women's Writing, 9: 1 (2015), 16 - 33.
Rosalind Gill and Shani Orgad, 'The Shifting Terrain of Sex and Power,' Sexualities, 21: 8 (2018), 1313 - 1324.
Peter Boxall, 'Introduction,' Twenty-First Century Fiction: An Introduction (2013)
Roger Eaglestone, 'Contemporary Fiction in the Academy: Towards a Manifesto,' Textual Practice (2013), 27: 7
Daniel O'Gorman and Robert Eaglestone, eds. The Routledge Companion to Contemporary Literary Fiction (2018)
Postmodern, Postwar and After eds. Jason Gladstone, Andrew Hoborek and Daniel Worden (2016)
Lois McNay, 'Self As Enterprise: Dilemmas of Control and Resistance in Foucault's The Birth of Biopolitics,' Theory, Culture and Politics, 26:6 (2009)
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Course organiserDr Patricia Malone
Tel: (0 131 6)50 8618
Course secretaryMiss Kara McCormack
Tel: (0131 6)50 3030
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