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EN123 Modern World Literatures – Honours Variants – EN2J7/EN3J7


Convenor: Mike Niblett

Office hours: Tuesdays, 10-11; Wednesday, 11-12 (Teams only in Term 1; sign up hereLink opens in a new window or email me)


This module is an introduction to some of the defining concerns, historical contexts and characteristic formal features of modern world literatures from 1789 to the present. The syllabus is divided into sections on literatures of the Enlightenment and Romanticism, nineteenth-century modernity and empire, modernism and world war, and the Cold War/decolonization period, with a focus on post-1989 writing in the third term. Teaching is by a weekly lecture and small-group seminar. Lectures introduce literary, historical and/or theoretical contexts as well as discussion of specific authors and works, while seminars involve closer discussion of the texts themselves.

The set texts we will be reading this year include the following:

Goethe, Faust Part I; Shelley, Frankenstein; Baudelaire, “The Painter of Modern Life”; Soseki, Kokoro; Conrad, Heart of Darkness; Lu Xun, “A Madman’s Diary”; Kafka, The Metamorphosis; Brecht, Mother Courage and Her Children; Césaire, Notebook of a Return to the Native Land; Lispector, Hour of the Star; Cliff, No Telephone to Heaven

A full list of this year’s set texts, as well as a week-by-week breakdown of the lectures, can be found by following the tabs above (see ‘Lecture List’ and ‘Set Texts’)

Learning outcomes

By the end of the module you should be able to
• Discuss a particular work of literature in relation to questions of modernity, the dynamics of innovation and tradition, and the role of social, cultural and (inter)national formations in shaping the context of literary production
• Engage more confidently in critical analysis, bibliographic research and presentations on topics relating to works of modern literature
• Participate in discussions and exercises regarding the role of literature in relation to other media, questions of institutional authority and contemporary cultural debates
• Make an informed choice of honours-level options in modern literary topics

Teaching times

Recorded lectures will be released weekly via the Lecture ListLink opens in a new window and on Moodle by Mondays at 5.00pm. Seminars begin in Week 1.

Seminar times and venues are arranged at the start of the academic year.

Methods of assessment (from 2022/23)

First-year students: 2 x 2,500-word essays

Honours level (i.e., where the course is taken as an option by students not in their first year): 2 x 3,500-word essays (Level 5); 2 x 4,000-word essays (Level 6).

See Assessments 22/23Link opens in a new window for further information.

Essay deadlines

See essay deadlines published through the English Office.

Jean-Baptiste Thonesse, Liberty
Travelling over the World (1792-1796)

Sleep of Reason

Franciso Goya, The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters (1799)

Term 1 Handout

Term 2 Handout

Modernity Clinic

Research Skills: Researching Unfamiliar Concepts

Research Skills: Researching for your Assignments

Other useful links:

Academic Writing Resource