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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 deepen 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 exploring how literary modernism and modern culture developed from a cluster of anxieties surrounding the fate 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 economic and cultural prestige). The second is to link this longer view of the emergence of literary modernism to a transformation or radicalisation of the so-called "Classic Realist novel" (represented on the course by George Eliot's Middlemarch) so that students are able to develop 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, texts 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 may gain a much broader understanding of the literary contexts and stylistic possibilities of modernist 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), the relationships between gender, power and patriarchy (Middlemarch, Madame Bovary, A Passage to India) and race, power and imperialism (Heart of Darkness, A Passage to India, Journey to the End of the Night) that shape both modernist and modern culture, changing visions of the "human" and "human rights" (Notes from Underground, Journey to the End of the Night) and the origins of the modern totalitarian state (The Trial, Journey to the End of the Night).

The seminars will encourage collaborative discussion and collective close reading focused on developing ideas and contexts to illuminate the key themes of the course. All texts are studied in English translation).
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
Academic year 2024/25, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  0
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) One Course Essay of c. 2,500 words (40%);

One time-limited Final Essay of c. 3,000 words (60%)
Feedback Not entered
No Exam Information
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 secretaryMiss Hope Hamilton
Tel: (0131 6)50 4167
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