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

Undergraduate Course: Scottish Literature 2B (ENLI08023)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Literatures, Languages and Cultures CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 8 (Year 2 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis second-semester course introduces students to the history of literature in Scotland in English and Scots, covering two periods of its self-conscious revival: the Modernist 'Scottish Renaissance' between the world wars of the twentieth century, and the contemporary period, defined as beginning with the first Devolution Referendum and the election of Margaret Thatcher as British prime minister in 1979. It focusses on how questions of literary form relate to the social, political and intellectual context in which the text was written and read; that is, on how the text's formal achievement responds to changes in Scottish society and the wider world. The course will encourage students to extend their essay writing skills through engagement with critical material.
Course description The purpose of this course is to train you to read literature historically: that is, to ask, not only what a literary text says, but what it is doing by saying that in the social context for which it was written. It thus builds on your training in close reading and formal analysis in first year, and completes your preparation for more specialised study in the honours years of your degree.

It does not however attempt a continuous survey of Scottish literary history across the centuries, but proceeds by a series of case-studies in particular periods, each marked by a particular flourishing of literary culture in Scotland. This reflects the historical reality of a culture forced to re-invent itself after various sorts of radical transformation (the aftermath of the First World War; de-industrialisation). But this will also help us focus on the relation of the literary text to its historical moment by taking that historical moment, a matter of a few decades in each case, in relative isolation, without assuming a continuous literary 'national tradition' in which these periods can all be connected up. Indeed, in the first half of Scottish Literature 2B we will think about the invocation of 'national tradition' by Hugh MacDiarmid and his collaborators. The second half, discussing literature from contemporary Scotland, will present you with the challenge of reading the present moment historically, helping us understand our own literary culture as conditioned by the historical forces that we've seen at work in other periods.

As just indicated, Scottish Literature 2B falls into two parts. The first part, weeks 1-5, introduces you to Scottish Modernism, the adoption of formal experiment in literary writing as part of a wider project of national and international cultural renewal after the First World War. The second half, weeks 6-11, will introduce you to the literary history of Scotland since 1979, to think about the relation of literary writing to social unrest and de-industrialisation in the Central Belt, the rise of political nationalism and the advent of Devolution, and the emergence of a more socially liberal and self-consciously diverse society at the same time.

Each week, you will attend two lectures, usually one relating that week's text to its social and historical context, and another exploring its internal organisation in relation to that. There will be a weekly tutorial, for which you will prepare in autonomous small-group work. The course will be assessed by two essays, one written in relation to each half, after the completion of that unit: Flexible Learning Week is set aside for the completion of the first essay, and the second essay will be completed in week 12.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: Literary Studies 1A (ENLI08020) AND Literary Studies 1B (ENLI08021) OR English Literature 1 (ENLI08001) OR Scottish Literature 1 (ENLI08016)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements AH/A level English or Scottish Literature or equivalent
Students on the English and Scottish Literature pathways must have taken Literary Studies 1A and 1B. For students who took First Year courses prior to session 2021-22, a pass in English Literature 1 (ENLI08001) or Scottish Literature 1 (ENLI08016) is an acceptable equivalent.
Students on an English or Scottish Literature pathway must also take Scottish Literature 2A.
Students taking Scottish Literature 2B as an outside subject must also take Scottish Literature 2A.
Additional Costs Book purchases.
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesPrevious undergraduate literary study.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2024/25, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  0
Course Start Semester 2
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) Essay 1: 2,000 words: 50%

Essay 2: 2,000 words: 50%
Feedback Feedback will be given on the first essay within the 15 workings required for this; in plenty time for this feedback to be useful to the student in writing the second essay.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. identify and distinguish the literary forms, modes and genres characteristic of the Modernist and Contemporary periods in Scotland;
  2. explain how the features of literary texts relate to the social and intellectual contexts in which they were written and read;
  3. evaluate secondary material through the construction of critical argument;
  4. confidently make use of a range of university study skills, including enhanced essay writing skills and appropriate scholarly referencing
Reading List

Lewis Grassic Gibbon, Sunset Song (Penguin)

Alasdair Gray, Lanark (Canongate)

Jackie Kay, The Lamplighters (Picador)

James Kelman, How Late It Was, How Late (Vintage)

Liz Lochhead, Mary Queen of Scots Got Her Head Chopped Off (Nick Hern)

Hugh MacDiarmid, Selected Poems (Carcanet)

Patrick Moran, ed. Forty Voices Strong: An Anthology of Contemporary Scottish Poetry (Grayson Books)


Crawford, Robert and Thom Nairn, eds. The Arts of Alasdair Gray (EUP)

Hames, Scott, ed. The Edinburgh Companion to James Kelman (EUP)

---. The Literary Politics of Scottish Devolution: Voice, Class, Nation (EUP)

Hawthorn, Jeremy, ed. The British Working-Class Novel in the Twentieth Century (Arnold)

Kelly, Aaron. James Kelman: Politics and Aesthetics (Peter Lang)

Lyall, Scott. Hugh MacDiarmid's Poetry and Politics of Place: Imagining a Scottish Republic (EUP)

Schoene, Berthold. The Edinburgh Companion to Contemporary Scottish Literature (EUP)

Varty, Anne. The Edinburgh Companion to Liz Lochhead (EUP)
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Skills in the critical analysis of language, and in particular of narrative; historical consciousness; ideological self-consciousness; skills in constructing rational and evidence-based argument; articulacy, scepticism, and curiosity.
KeywordsScottish Literature,Modernist Literature,Contemporary Literature,Historicism
Course organiserDr Gerard McKeever
Course secretaryMrs Anne Budo
Tel: (0131 6)50 4161
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