Undergraduate Course: Twenty-First Century Fiction (ENLI10379)
|School||School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures
||College||College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
|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. The course will begin considering 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. We 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, we will consider how twenty-first-century fiction engages with issues of racial violence and inequality, particularly in America, and will consider how discriminatory laws in place during the Jim Crow period are replicated in parts of America today, particularly through aspects of policing such as racial profiling, multiple arrests for minor or non-existent infractions, and police brutality. 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.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
||Other requirements|| None
|Additional Costs|| Essential Course Texts
Course Delivery Information
|Academic year 2021/22, Not available to visiting students (SS1)
|Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info)
Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4,
Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours
|Assessment (Further Info)
|Additional Information (Assessment)
||Coursework essay of 2,500 words: 40%
Take home final essay of 3,000 words: 60%
||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.
|Zadie Smith, White Teeth (2000)|
Ian McEwan, Atonement (2001)
Don DeLillo, Falling Man (2007)
Jennifer Egan, A Visit from the Goon Squad (2010)
Ben Lerner, 10:04 (2014)
Benjamin Markovits, You Don¿t Have to Live Like This (2015)
Dana Spiotta, Innocents and Others (2016)
Hari Kunzru, White Tears (2017)
Brandon Taylor, Real Life (2020)
|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