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EN2G5/EN3G5 Disasters and the British Contemporary

This module looks at stories of disaster arising from the United Kingdom since the era of high consensus (the mid-1950s), and asks how the catastrophic imagination speaks to present concerns in each era. The 'Contemporary' in the title means a consideration of 'present-ness' in different eras, rather than meaning recent as a category of books or a literary period (as in 'Brick Lane is an example of contemporary writing'). It asks how the British political situation of the time projects futures, and thinking more generally about the reading of disasters and dystopias. It touches on social history, politics, ideas of utopia and dystopia, and the constitution, but no prior knowledge of these subjects is needed.

A condition of attending seminars is somewhat knowing the texts and being ready to talk about it. As much as possible the set texts should be read alongside some of the texts in the relevant section of Extra Reading, though we appreciate time constraints. Here a 'text' is some kind of cultural output, not necessarily a printed book. Although this module is not especially in terms of reading volume, you should try to organise your year so that you are ready to discuss the more time-consuming texts in seminars and essays - look ahead and work out where you might need time.

There is one 90-minute seminar a week, no lectures.

Seminar: Monday 13:30-15:00

Assessment is by two 4000 word or two 5000 word essays, titles decided by students themselves. (This is a slight change from 2018-19, in which titles were negotiated with the module convenor).

Office Hours 2019-20: Mon 15.00-16.00, Tue 16.00-17.00

In 2019-20, assessment is slightly different for intermediate and final year students: intermediate year is 2 x 4000 words, final year is 2 x 5000 words.


Reading List 2019-20

I Consensus

2. John Wyndham, The Day of the Triffids (1951)
3. Michael Young, The Rise of the Meritocracy (1957)
4. L.P. Hartley, Facial Justice (1960)

II Collapse

5. wr. Peter Dickinson, The Weathermonger trilogy (1968-70) [this is sometimes retrospectively described as 'The Changes trilogy'], and wr. Peter Dickinson and Anna Home, dir. Anna Home, The Changes (1975)
7. Doris Lessing, Memoirs of a Survivor (1974)
8. John Rowe Townsend, Noah’s Castle (1975)
9. wr. and dir. Derek Jarman, Jubilee (1978)


III Totalisation


10. wr. and dir. Peter Watkins, The War Game (1965) and wr. Barry Hines, dir. Mick Jackson, Threads (1984)
11. wr. Troy Martin, dir. Martin Campbell, Edge of Darkness (1985)
12. Russell Hoban, Riddley Walker (1980)

IV Environments


13. John Christopher, The Death of Grass (1956)
14. Naomi Mitchison, Solution Three (1975)
15. Jenni Fagan, The Sunlight Pilgrims (2016)
17. Aldous Huxley, Brave New World (1932)


V Neoliberalism
 

18. Robert Moss, The Collapse of Democracy (1975)
19. Ivor Southwood, Non-Stop Inertia (2010)
20. wr. P.D. James, wr. and dir. Anfonso Cuaron, Children of Men (2006)


ADDITIONAL READING

ADAPTED FOR 2019-20 TERM THREE: LOOK AT III-V (I-II WILL BE REWRITTEN FOR 2021)


I Consensus


Anthony Burgess, A Clockwork Orange (1962)
Anthony Burgess, The Wanting Seed (1962)
J.G. Ballard, 'Billennium' (1962)
HMSO, Education Act 1944: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/Geo6/7-8/31/contents/enacted 
Anthony Crosland, The Future of Socialism (1956)
Stuart Hall et al, ‘The Insiders’ series, Universities and Left Review (1957): http://banmarchive.org.uk/collections/ulr/index_frame.htm 
Aldous Huxley, Island (1962)
Wr. and dir. Nigel Kneale, Quatermass and the Pit (1958-59) (Box of Broadcasts)
Vernon Bogdanor and Robert Skidelsky, The Age of Affluence (1970)
David Kynaston, Austerity Britain, 1945-1951 (2007)
Ken Loach, The Spirit of '45 (2013) (Box of Broadcasts)
dir. Danny Boyle, Olympics Opening Ceremony 2012 (youtube)
Wr. and dir. Adam Curtis, The Living Dead ep.3, 'The Attic' (1995) (youtube)
Maurice Blanchot, The Writing of the Disaster (1986)
Adam Stock, 'The Blind Logic of Plants: Enlightenment and Evolution in John Wyndham's The Day of the Triffids' (2015) (JSTOR)
David Seed, Future Wars: the Anticipations and the Fears (2012) (ebook through Warwick library)
Andrew Hammond, 'The Twilight of Utopia: British Dystopian Fiction and the Cold War' (2011) (JSTOR)
Adam Piette, Literary Cold War: 1945 to Vietnam (2009) (ebook through Warwick library)

II Collapse

Adrian Mitchell, The Bodyguard (1972)
Frank Kitson, Low Intensity Operations (1971)
Wr. and dir. Terry Nation, Survivors series one (1975) (youtube)
wr. Anthony Schaffer, dir. Robin Hardy, The Wicker Man (1973) (Box of Broadcasts)
Jon Savage, England’s Dreaming (1991)
Stephen Haseler, The Death of British Democracy (1975)
Tom Nairn, The Break-up of Britain (1977)
The Ecologist magazine: https://www.resurgence.org/magazine/ecologist/issues1970-1979.html 
John Seymour, Self-Sufficiency (1976)
BBC Panorama, ‘Millwall’ (1977) (youtube)
Andy Beckett, When the Lights Went Out: Britain in the Seventies (2009)
Francis Wheen, Strange Days Indeed: The Golden Age of Paranoia (2010)
Wr. Anthony Burgess, dir. Stanley Kubrick, A Clockwork Orange (1971) (Box of Broadcasts)
Barry Penrose and Roger Courtiour, The Pencourt File (1977)
BBC Panorama, ‘Sandhurst’ (1975) (youtube)
Stephen Milligan, The New Barons: Union Power in the 1970s (1975)
Tariq Ali, The Coming British Revolution (1972)
Patrick Hutber, The Decline of the Middle Class (1975)
John Medhurst, That Option No Longer Exists: 1974-76 (2015)
BBC, The Plot Against Harold Wilson (2006) (youtube)
Richard Littler, Discovering Scarfolk (2014)
Giorgio Agamben, State of Exception (2005) (ebook through Warwick library)
Chris Mullin, A Very British Coup (1982)
ed. Robert Moss, We Will Bury You (1970)
John Christopher, Empty World (1977)
wr. Nigel Kneale, dir. Peirs Haggard, Quatermass ('Quatermass: Ringstone Round'/ 'Quatermass IV') (1979) (may be available through online search, patchy availability)
Doomwatch series 1-3: surviving episodes recently made available (patchy availability apart from DVD, but you could search 'Cult of Doomwatch' on youtube)
Lee Edelman, No Future: Queer Theory and the Death Drive (2004) (ebook through Warwick library)
Rebekah Sheldon, The Child to Come: Life After the Human Catatrophe (2017) (ebook through Warwick library)

III Totalisation

HMSO, Protect and Survive (1980), copied at: http://atomica.co.uk/main.htm 
E.P. Thompson/ CND, Protest and Survive (1980)
ed. E.P. Thompson etc., Exterminism and Cold War (1982)
Central Office of Information, Sound an Alarm (1971) (youtube)
Jonathan Schell, The Fate of the Earth (1982)
wr and dir Derek Jarman, The Last of England (1988)
Paul Brians, Nuclear Holocausts: Atomic War in Fiction, 1895-1984 (1987)
I.F. Clarke, Voices Prophesying War, 1763-1984 (1986)
BBC Panorama, If the Bomb Drops (1980) (youtube)
BBC, QED: A Guide to Armageddon (1982) (youtube)
Wr. and dir. Duncan Campbell, Secret Society (1987) (youtube - search for In Time of Crisis)
Duncan Campbell, War Plan UK (1982)
Wr. and dir. John Pilger, The Truth Game (1983) (vimeo)
National Security Archive, The Able Archer 83 Sourcebook: https://nsarchive.gwu.edu/project/able-archer-83-sourcebook 
Oleg Gordievsky, Comrade Kryuchkov's Instructions (1994)
Félix Guattari, The Three Ecologies (1989)
Félix Guattari and Toni Negri, Communists Like Us (1990)
William Chaloupka, Knowing Nukes: The Politics and Culture of the Atom (1992) (ebook through Warwick library)
John Caughie, Edge of Darkness (2007)
Lez Cooke, Troy Kennedy Martin (2007) (ebook through Warwick library)
Jonathan Hogg, British Nuclear Culture (2016) (ebook through Warwick library)
Daniel Cordle, Late Cold War Culture and Literature: The Nuclear 1980s (2017) (ebook through Warwick library)
Diacritics 'Nuclear Criticism' special edition, 14-2 (Summer 1984) JSTOR: https://www.jstor.org/stable/i219957
eds. Matthew Grant and Benjamin Ziemann, Understanding the Imaginary War (2016)
Gerry Loose, Fault Line (2016)
Andrew Stones and Michael Gardiner, 'Lithic Agency, Scottish Modernism, and the Politics of Nuclear War' (2018) (JSTOR)
Michael Gardiner, 'Nuclear Deficit: Why nuclear weapons are natural, but Scotland doesn't need nature' (2019) (JSTOR)
Paul Virilio, War and Cinema (1989)
Akira Mizuta Lippit, Atomic Light (Shadow Optics) (2005) (ebook through Warwick library)

IV Environments

Ecologist magazine, Manifesto for a Sustainable Society (1972) (Ecologist archive)
Brian Aldiss, Billion Year Spree (1973)
Bill McKibben, The End of Nature (1989)
Paul Ehrlich, The Population Bomb (1971)
Rachel Carson, Silent Spring (1962)
Garrett Hardin, ‘The Tragedy of the Commons’ (1968) reprinted at: https://science.sciencemag.org/content/162/3859/1243.full 
Frederick Buell, 'Global Warming as Literary Narrative' (2014) (JSTOR)
E.F. Schumacher, Small is Beautiful (1973)
Ed. John Barr, The Environmental Handbook (1971)
Timothy Mitchell, Carbon Democracy (2013) (ebook through Warwick library)
Jason Moore, Capitalism in The Web of Life (2015)
Andreas Malm, Fossil Capital: The Rise of Steam-Power and the Roots of Global Warming (2015) (ebook through Warwick library)
Steven Vogel, Thinking Like a Mall: Environmental Philosophy After the End of Nature (2015) (ebook through Warwick library)

V Neoliberalism 


F.A. Hayek, The Road to Serfdom (1944) (available online)
F.A. Hayek, Choice in Currency (1976) IEA Archive: https://iea.org.uk/publications/research/choice-in-currency-a-way-to-stop-inflation
Anthony Burgess, 1985 (1978) (ebook through Warwick library)
William Rees-Mogg, The Reigning Error (1975)
wr. and dir. Peter Greenaway, The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover (1989) (Box of Broadcasts)
Joe Pike, Project Fear (2015)
Lionel Robbins, Liberty and Equality (1977)
Wr. and dir. Adam Curtis, The Mayfair Set (1999) (youtube)
John Locke, Two Treatises of Government (1689) (widely available online)
Alasdair Gray, Lanark (1981)
Naomi Klein, The Shock Doctrine (2007)
Michael Gardiner, 'Eco-Catastrophe, Economic Patriotism, and the Thatcherite Promise of Nature' (2018)
Luc Boltanski, The New Spirit of Capitalism (2007)
Jamie Peck, Constructions of Neoliberal Reason (2010) (ebook through Warwick library)
Evan Calder Williams, Combined and Uneven Apocalypse (2011) (ebook through Warwick library)
Carl Cederström and Peter Fleming, Dead Man Working (2012) (ebook through Warwick library)
Jonathan Crary, 24/7: Late Capitalism and the Ends of Sleep (2014)
William Davies, 'Britain's Brezhnev-Style Capitalism' (2013): https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/opendemocracyuk/britains-brezhnev-style-capitalism/ 
William Davies, The Limits of Neoliberalism (2015) (ebook through Warwick library)
David Graeber, The Utopia of Rules (2015)
Maurizio Lazzarato, Governing By Debt (2015)
Franco Berardi, After the Future (2011) (ebook through Warwick library)
Ray Brassier, Nihil Unbound: Enlightenment and Extinction (2007) (ebook through Warwick library)
chapters from eds. Chantelle Gray van Heerden and Aragorn Eloff, Deleuze and Anarchism (2019)

Advice on Writing Essays