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Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies



Module Outline in brief: seminars

Wk 1: Theorizing urban modernity: extracts from Baudelaire, Benjamin, Simmel, and others.

Wk 2: Charles Baudelaire, Les fleurs du mal/The Flowers of Evil, trans. James McGowan (OUP World’s Classics, 1993)

Wk 3: Walter Benjamin, The Writer of Modern Life: Essays on Charles Baudelaire, trans. Howard Eiland et al. (Harvard UP, 2006)

Wk 4: Conrad, The Secret Agent (OUP World’s Classics)

Wk 5: T.S. Eliot, Collected Poems (Faber):‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock’, Preludes’, The Waste Land

Wk 6: James Joyce, ‘Wandering Rocks’, from Ulysses

Wk 7: Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway (OUP World’s Classics)

Wk 8: Jean Rhys, Good Morning Midnight (Penguin)

Wk 9: Ivan Vladislavic, Portrait with Keys: The City of Johannesburg Unlocked (2006)

Wk 10: Essay tutorials


*Poems will be discussed primarily in English translation. Set text is a dual English/French edition.

** Required edition is Annotated Students’ Edition (Penguin), ed. Declan Kiberd; alternatively, the Penguin Classics edition. Please ensure that you acquire the Penguin edition.


Module Requirements

1. Attend seminars, having prepared material as directed by your tutor.

2. Give one seminar presentation during the term.

3. Consult with tutor about assessed work

4. Submit one assessed essay.

Assessed essay guidelines:

Your essay needs to engage with the module content, most importantly the ways urban space is represented in modernist literary writing, and/or in critical theories of urban modernity. It should discuss in detail at least one literary text covered in the module.






Wk 1: Theorizing Urban Modernity

In the first seminar, we will sketch out some of the general contexts for the module, focussing on the terms 'modernization' 'modernity', and 'modernism', and thinking about some key theoretical texts in the urban modernity debates. We will also discuss the Set Extracts , focussing closely on selected passages. Please ensure that you have read these closely, and given some thought to how each of them engages the module themes. Most are widely anthologized, reprinted in a range of volumes, and/or available online, and in most cases the library has multiple copies.

Set Extracts:

Baudelaire, Charles. ‘The Painter of Modern Life’ in P.E. Charvet (ed), Baudelaire: Selected Writings on Art and Literature (Penguin, 1972). Pay particular attention to Section III, on 'the artist as the man of the crowd', pp. 395-403.

Simmel, Georg. ‘The Metropolis and Mental Life’ in Georg Simmel: On Individuality and Social Forms (Chicago, 1971), 324-39. Pay particular attention to the section on 'blasé' consciousness, pp.409-11.

Weber, Max. ‘Science as a Vocation’ in Peter Lassman and Irving Velody (eds), Max Weber’s Science as a Vocation (Unwin Hyman, 1989), 3-31. We will focus mainly on the notions of rationalization and disenchantment, pp.12-14.

Benjamin, Walter. ‘On Some Motifs in Baudelaire’ in Benjamin, The Writer of Modern Life (Harvard, 2006) - this is one of our set texts. We will focus particularly on Section VIII ('Fear, revulsion and horror...the jostlers').

Harvey, David. ‘Modernity and Modernism’ in The Condition of Postmodernity (Blackwell, 1989), 10-38. We will focus on the passages dealing with role of cities, pp. 24-7.

Raymond Williams, Keywords (Fontana, 1976), pp. 208-9 (for one definition of modernity).

A range of additional introductory reading is suggested on the module page bibliography. I'd pick out a couple of essays which would be particularly useful for the introductory seminar:

Marshall Berman, 'The Halo and the Highway' in All that is Solid Melts into Air. Rpt in Peter Brooker (ed), Modernism/Postmodernism.

Raymond Williams, 'Metropolitan Perceptions and the Emergence of Modernism', in The Politics of Modernism, esp. pp 44-7. Rpt. in Brooker, as above, and also in Malcolm Miles (ed) The City Cultures Reader.


  • Modernism, urban space and everyday life
  • The flaneur / man of the crowd
  • Urban space as (hyper)stimulus
  • Rationalization and technology
  • Space-time compression
  • Modernity and the category of 'experience'


Wk 2: Baudelaire

Set Text:

Charles Baudelaire, The Flowers of Evil, tr. James McGowan (OUP, 1993)

Within this text, we will focus on the volume Tableaux Parisiens

Further Reading:

-----------------------."The Painter of Modem Life" in Selected Writings on Art and Literature, tr. P.E. Charvet (Penguin, 1972).

------------------------. Intimate Journals, tr. Christopher Isherwood (Black Spring Press, 1989)

------------------------. The Poems in Prose, trans. Francis Scarfe, Vol 2 (Anvil, 1989). See esp. "A Lost Halo", "Crowds", "The Eyes of the Poor".

Benjamin, Walter. Charles Baudelaire: A Lyric Poet in the Era of High Capitalism, tr. Harry Zohn (Verso, 1983)

Berman, Marshall. 'Baudelaire: Modernism in the Streets' in All that is Solid Melts into Air.

Prendergast, Christopher. Paris and the 19th Century (Blackwell, 1992). Ch. 6.

Jouve, Nicole Ward. Baudelaire: A Fire to Conquer Darkness (London: Macmillan, 1990).

Clark, T.J. The Absolute Bourgeois: Artists and Politics in France 1848-51. Revised ed. Berkeley: U of California P, 1999.

Lloyd, Rosemary. The Cambridge Companion to Baudelaire. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2005. See especially Ross Chambers, 'Baudelaire's Paris'.

Adcock, Michael. 'Remaking Urban Space: Baron Haussmann and the Rebuilding of Paris, 1851-1870'. Online.

Ferguson, Priscilla Parkhurst. Paris as Revolution: Writing the Nineteenth Century City. Oxford: Blackwell, 1992.


Wk 3: Benjamin

Set Text:

Walter Benjamin, The Writer of Modern Life: Essays on Charles Baudelaire, trans. Howard Eiland et al. (Harvard UP, 2006)


  • Historical materialism and the Arcades Project
  • Motifs: flaneur, arcades, the crowd, the prostitute, the ragpicker
  • Commodity fetishism and the phantasmagoria
  • Technology and sensory adaptation


Further Reading:

Benjamin, Walter. ’The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction’ in Illuminations, tr. Harry Zohn (Verso, 1983)

---------------------. The Arcades Project, tr. Howard Eiland & Kevin McLaughlin (Harvard UP, 1999)

Clark, T.J. 'Should Benjamin have read Marx?' in Peter Osborne,ed. Appropriations.

Britzolakis, Christina. "Phantasmagoria: Walter Benjamin and the Poetics of Urban Modernism" in Peter Buse & Andrew Stott (eds), Ghosts: Marxism Deconstruction History (Macmillan, 1998), 72-91.

*Buck-Morss, Susan. The Dialectics of Seeing: Walter Benjamin and the Arcades Project (MIT, 1989). See esp. Part I.

Gilloch, Graeme. Myth and Metropolis: Walter Benjamin and the City (Polity, 1995)

 Wolin, Richard. 'Experience and Materialism in Benjamin's Passagenwerk' in Gary Smith, ed. Benjamin: Philosophy, Aesthetics, History. Chicago: Chicago UP,, 1989. 

Wk 4: Conrad

Set Text: Joseph Conrad, The Secret Agent (1907)

London as imperial metropolis
Degeneration: city as abyss
Disruption of narrative temporality
Immigration, 'aliens' and the East End
The anarchist as an urban figure

Further Reading:

Carabine, Keith, ed. Joseph Conrad: Critical Assessments, Vol 3 (Mountfield: Helm, 1992)

Zimring, Rishona. "Conrad's Pornography Shop", MFS 43, 2 (Summer 1997), 319-48

Arac, Jonathan. "Romanticism, the Self, and the City: TSA in literary history", Boundary 2, 9 (1980), 75-90, rpt. in Carabine, JC: Critical Assessments, 69-82

Britzolakis, Christina. ‘Pathologies of the Imperial Metropolis: Impressionism as Traumatic Afterimage in Conrad and Ford’, Journal of Modern Literature 29.1 (2005): 1-20.

Jordan, Elaine. Joseph Conrad: New Casebooks (Macmillan, 1996)

Rebecca Stott, "The Woman in Black: Unravelling Race and Gender in The Secret Agent"', in Jordan, Joseph Conrad, 193-215.

Edmond, Rod. "Home and Away: Degeneration in Imperialist and Modernist discourse" in Booth (ed), Modernism and Empire, 46-63

Rignall, John. Realist Fiction and the Strolling Spectator (London: Routledge, 1992), 137-51

Walkowitz, Rebecca. City of Dreadful Night (London: Virago, 1992),Ch 1.


Wk 5: Modernist Poetry and Urban Space

Set Text: T.S. Eliot, Collected Poems (Faber). Focus on 'Prufrock', 'Preludes', 'Rhapsody on a Windy Night', The Waste Land 

Further Reading:

Eliot, Valerie (ed) The Waste Land Manuscript

Eliot, T.S. 'Charles Baudelaire' (1931), ‘Tradition and the individual Talent’ (1919) ‘Hamlet and his Problems’ in Selected Essays (Faber, 1951).

Britzolakis, Christina. 'Varieties: T.S. Eliot, Mina Loy and Cosmopolitan Performance', Op Cit 2015, online

Crawford, Robert. The Savage and the City in the Works of T.S. Eliot (Clarendon Press, 1987)

Menand, Louis. Discovering Modernism: T.S. Eliot and his Context (OUP)

Butler, Christopher. ‘The modernist self’ and ‘The city’ in Early Modernism

Calder, Angus. T.S. Eliot: New Readings

Levenson, Michael. ‘The Waste Land’ in A Genealogy of Modernism

Calder, Angus. T.S. Eliot: New Readings

North, Michael. ‘Does the Waste Land Have a Politics?’, Modernism/Modernity

Southam, B.C. A Students’ Guide to the Selected Poems of T.S. Eliot (1968)

Davidson, Harriet (ed) T.S. Eliot. Longman Critical Readers: (Longman, 1999)
Froula, Christine. 'Eliot's Grail Quest, or, the Lover, the Police and the Waste Land', Yale Review 78 (1989), 235-53.
Chinitz, D. 'T.S. Eliot: The Waste Land' in Bradshaw and Dettmar, 324-32.
Kenner, Hugh. The Invisible Poet (1959)
Menand, Louis. Discovering Modernism: T.S. Eliot and his Context (OUP)
C.B. Cox and Arnold Hinchcliffe (eds) T.S. Eliot: The Waste Land
Gordon, Lyndall T.S. Eliot: The Early Years
Perloff, Marjorie. 'Avant-Garde Eliot' in 21st Century Modernism: the New Poetics (Blackwell, 2002)

Wk 6: Joyce, ‘Wandering Rocks’

Set Text : Ulysses (1922). Chapter 10. If possible, please use the Penguin edition.

Secondary reading:


Johnson, Jeri (ed) Ulysses

Kiberd, Declan. Ulysses: Annotated Students’ Edition 

Major Critical Views:

Although they have long been superseded by many other works, three early studies are key basic reading:

Frank Budgen, James Joyce and the Making of Ulysses (OUP, 1989; 1st ed 1934)

Stuart Gilbert, James Joyce’s Ulysses (NY: Vintage, 1958; 1st ed, 1930).

Wilson, Edmund. Axel’s Castle: A study in the Imaginative Literature of 1870-1930

Also useful:

Attridge, Derek (ed) The Cambridge Companion to James Joyce

Attridge, Derek. James Joyce’s Ulysses: A Casebook

Goldberg, S.L. The Classical Temper 
Introductory studies:

Hugh Kenner, Ulysses (Lond: Allen & Unwin, 1980, rev edn. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1987)

Vincent Sherry, James Joyce: Ulysses (Landmarks of World Literature)


Richard Ellmann, James Joyce (OUP, 1983; 1st edn, 1959)

Other critical studies:

Jameson, Fredric. 'Ulysses in History" in W.J. McCormack and Alistair Stead (eds.), James Joyce and Modern Literature (RKP, 1982),126-41

Mahaffey, Vicki, Reauthorizing Joyce (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988)

Moretti, Franco. Modern Epic: The World System from Goethe to Gracia Marquez (Verso, 1996)

Moretti, Franco. Signs Taken for Wonders (London: Verso, 1988). Ch 7.

Studies that focus on urban space:

Duffy, Enda "Disappearing Dublin" in Semicolonial Joyce (CUP, 2000)

Williams, Raymond The Country and the City, Ch 20, 233-47.

Gibbons, Luke. 'Montage, Modernism, the City' in Transformations in Irish Culture (Cork UP, 1996), 165-9


Wk 8: Woolf

Set Text: Mrs Dalloway (1925

Further reading:

Woolf, Virginia. 'Street Haunting: A London Adventure', Complete Shorter Fiction (London: Hogarh P, 1985)

-------------------."The Cinema" in The Captain's Death Bed and Other Essays (1950),166-71

Parsons, Deborah. Streetwalking the Metropolis

*Bowlby, Rachel. Virginia Woolf. Feminist Destinations (Edinburgh UP, 1997)

Britzolakis, Christina. ‘Woolf, War and Utopia’ in Benjamin Kohlmann (ed) Modernism and Utopia

Reid, Su (ed), Mrs. Dalloway and to the Lighthouse New Casebooks. (Macmillan, 1993)

Wirth-Nesher, Hana. City Codes: Reading the Modern Urban Novel (Oxford, 1996)

Marcus, Laura. Virginia Woolf 

Marcus, Jane. Virginia Woolf and the Language of Patriarchy



Wk 8: Rhys

Set Text:

Good Morning Midnight (1939)

Further Reading:

Angier, Carole. Jean Rhys: Life and Work (Virago, 1992)

Benstock, Shari. Women of the Left Bank (London: Virago, 1986)

*Emery, Mary Lou. Jean Rhys at World's End: Novels of Colonial and Sexual Exile Austin; U of

Texas P, 1990.

Gregg, Veronica Marie. Jean Rhys's Historical Imagination: Reading and Writing the Creole (Chapel Hill: U of N. Carolina P, 1995).

*Howells, Coral Ann. Jean Rhys (Hemel Hempstead: Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1991).

Bowlby, Rachel. "The Impasse" in Still Crazy after All These Years: Women, Writing and Psychoanalysis (London: Routledge, 1992)

Streip, Katherine. "Just a Cerebrale: Jean Rhys, Women's Humor and Ressentiment", Representations 45 (1994), 117-44

Parsons, Deborah. Streetwalking the Metropolis, 132-48

*Carr, Helen. Jean Rhys

*Britzolakis, Christina. ‘This Way to the Exhibition: Genealogies of Urban Spectacle in jean Rhys’s Fiction’, Textual Practice (1997)

Ramchand, Kenneth. 'Terrified Consciousness.' The West Indian Novel and its Background (London: Faber and Faber, 1970), pp.223-227.


Wk 9: Ivan Vladislavic, Portrait with Keys: The City of Johannesburg Unlocked (2006)

Mbembe, Achille and Sarah Nuttall (eds). Johannesburg: The Elusive City (Wits Univ. Press).

Wk 10: Essay tutorials