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

Undergraduate Course: Modernism and Empire (ENLI10338)

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 explores the relationship between European imperialism and literary modernism, focusing primarily on British colonial contexts and legacies (in South Asia, Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific), but also engaging with other European empires (such as the French Caribbean and the Belgian Congo). We will analyse a range of texts published from the 1890s through to 1960, exploring the centrality of empire to various phases of literary modernism. Both late colonialism and modernism share many of the same structuring discourses, such as concerns over the decline and decay of ¿Western¿ civilization, and a preoccupation with finding new ways of defining human subjectivity and alterity (in the wake of the collapse of enlightenment humanism, and the rise of psychoanalytical and social Darwinist paradigms).
Course description We will explore the relationship between anxieties about the imperialist project, and certain stylistic and thematic innovations in modernist literature, including: (i) the preoccupation with Western degeneration (which is interpreted by some modernist writers as a consequence of inter-racial contact and miscegenation, while others hold that Western culture can be revitalised by outside cultural and artistic influences); (ii) a preoccupation with multiple subjectivities and limited/unreliable narrators; (iii) experiments with symbolism and imagism as alternatives to Victorian realism and positivism. We will question the degree to which modernism was complicit with, or opposed to, imperialism, exploring texts produced by British authors (such as George Orwell, Leonard Woolf and Joyce Cary) who participated in the administration of British imperial territories, as well as the work of writers more peripheral to the workings of empire (such as Joseph Conrad, and women writers such as Jean Rhys and Katherine Mansfield). We will also consider how modernism was taken up by writers (such as Mulk Raj Anand and Aime¿ Ce¿saire) situated at the colonial ¿margins¿, investigating cross-cultural friendships and alliances (such as those between E.M. Forster and Mulk Raj Anand), as well as counter-discursive interventions by postcolonial writers such as Chinua Achebe, whose novel No Longer at Ease (1960) serves as a riposte to Cary¿s Mister Johnson (1939).
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: ( Literary Studies 1A (ENLI08020) AND Literary Studies 1B (ENLI08021) AND Literary Studies 2A: English Literature in the World, 1380-1788 (ENLI08024) AND Literary Studies 2B: English Literature in the World, post-1789 (ENLI08025)) OR ( English Literature 1 (ENLI08001) OR Scottish Literature 1 (ENLI08016) AND English Literature 2 (ENLI08003) OR Scottish Literature 2 (ENLI08004))
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
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 civilisation or other interdisciplinary classes, Freshman Year Seminars or composition/creative writing classes/workshops 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 4 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. develop the following skills through contributions to group discussion, independent reading, and assessed and non-assessed work.
  2. Understand the ways in which empire and its legacies has contributed to certain thematic and stylistic innovations in British (and other) literary modernism(s).
  3. Develop a critical vocabulary for analysing the thematics and aesthetics of modernist writing, drawing upon a range of theory and criticism (including, inter alia, formalist, Marxist, postmodernist and postcolonial perspectives).
  4. Analyse the active contribution of writers and cultures on the colonial 'periphery' to developments in (and critiques of) literary modernism.
  5. Articulate (in written and oral forms) a considered, informed sense of the breadth and range of responses to imperialism in course texts and reflect on good learning practice.
Reading List
1) Course introduction; Joseph Conrad, ¿An Outpost of Progress¿ (1897); Rudyard Kipling, ¿Regulus¿ (1917) [available on LEARN]
2) Miscegenation and degeneration: Robert Louis Stevenson, ¿The Ebb Tide¿; Jack London, ¿Goodbye Jack¿ (1909) [the London story is available on LEARN]
3) India and modernity: E: M. Forster, A Passage to India (1924)
4) Class, caste and empire: Mulk Raj Anand, Untouchable (1935)
5) Colonial administrators: Leonard Woolf, ¿Pearls and Swine¿ (1921) and selected letters; George Orwell, ¿Shooting an Elephant¿ (1936) [available on LEARN]
6) Settler women and empire: Jean Rhys, Voyage in the Dark (1937); selected stories by Katherine Mansfield (including ¿Je ne parle pas francais¿ and ¿The woman at the store¿)
7) Caribbean modernisms: Aime¿ Ce¿saire, Notebook of a Return to my Native Land (1939); selected poems by Una Marson (from The Moth and the Star, 1937; available on LEARN).
8) Africa and the British empire: Joyce Cary, Mister Johnson (1939), and ¿Umaru¿ [the short story is available on LEARN]
9) Nigerian modernities: Chinua Achebe, No Longer at Ease (1960)
Additional Information
Course URL
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Study Abroad n/a
Additional Class Delivery Information Seminar: 2 hour(s) per week for 10 week(s). Plus 1 hour per week attendance at Autonomous Learning Group - times to be arranged
Keywordsmodernism; empire; race; imperialism
Course organiserProf Michelle Keown
Tel: (0131 6)50 6856
Course secretaryMiss Hope Hamilton
Tel: (0131 6)50 4167
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