Note published deadlines on the departmental webpage regarding essays. Please follow all departmental guidelines for submission of assessed work, including e-submission procedures.
The assessments below fall into two categories: (1) formative, which are not given a mark but which are required in order to pass the module; and (2) summative, which are marked. Listed deadlines apply in both cases, but formative assessments (the response to a historical document in Term 1, the bibliography and presentation outline in Term 2) are to be handed in directly to your tutor, while summative assessments (essays 1 and 2 and the portfolio) are to be submitted via Tabula.
NOTE: For reasons of breadth of coverage, you're not permitted to write twice on the same text for your assessed work on MWL.
Formative response: Historical documents
Browse through the historical documents under the 'History' section in the Modernity Clinic moodle. These include writings by Kant, Wollstonecraft, Toussaint L'Ouverture, Shelley, Marx and Engels, and others. Find a passage that seems particularly significant to you and write a short response (500 words maximum), due in class in Week 5 of Term 1. Procedure: (1) Write out the quotation you wish to respond to (not included in the word-length); (2) re-state it in your own words; (3) then briefly reflect on its implications.
You are required to post two items per term (in Terms 1 and 2) to the Modernity Clinic. These can include responses to our weekly readings (under “Texts”), the “Images of Modernity,” the documents collected under “History,” the “Short Talks” or any other relevant section. Items should be around 100 words, but can be more if you wish. Note that your formative assessments can be used for this requirement.
First assessed essay
The first essay (1,500 words), due in Week 10 of Term 1, is a close reading of a passage from any one of our Term 1 texts. You should address the passage in terms of language, theme and context, situating it in relation to the work from which it is drawn and touching on the question of the work’s modernity.
Second assessed essay
The second essay (2,500 words), due in Week 7 of Term 2, is a comparative analysis of two works on the syllabus, engaging with the secondary literature on these works and developing your own argument in relation to it. At least one of these texts must be drawn from the Term 2 syllabus. You should prepare for this essay using the annotated bibliography assignment from the portfolio.
The portfolio (3,000 words, excluding the annotated bibliography and the presentation outline), due complete in Week 3 of Term 3, comprises four components, listed below. Components (1) and (2), due in Term 2, will not be given a mark, but will be given feedback by your tutor; in the case of style requirements for the bibliography (1), you must earn a ‘pass’ from your tutor before submitting this component with the portfolio. Submit the portfolio just as you would a regular essay, with the four components included as a single complete document in the following order:
1. Compile an annotated bibliography of 5+ secondary sources on a topic comparing two works on the syllabus. The bibliography must follow MLA style (due Week 3, Term 2)
2. Write an outline for a presentation to your seminar group on a literary, aesthetic or historical movement relevant to the readings from term 2 (1914-present). Situate the movement in relation to the reading for a particular week. Examples include: Soviet realism, cubism, the May Fourth Movement, surrealism, epic theatre, Negritude, etc. (due in Term 2 on the day of your scheduled presentation)
3. Write a short essay on a work outside the syllabus (see this list of alternatives for suggestions, but feel free to range more widely), relating it to any work on the syllabus (other than those you've already covered in an essay). You may choose to focus on any aspect of both works (2,000 words; due with portfolio in Week 3, Term 3)
(a) ‘Review the reviews’: Write an essay in which you analyse the journalistic response to one of the two works under discussion in Term 3. Reflect on what the reviews suggest about issues of literary culture, genre, prestige and institutional authority with regard to contemporary writing, then make an argument about these issues in relation to the work you've chosen. Note: You want to get a sense of how a particular work has been reviewed across a range of publications. ‘Reviews’ can be reviews in newspapers, literary periodicals and reputable online magazines and forums (not Amazon). You are encouraged to range outside the expected UK-based publications; spend some time getting acquainted with international sources (and note that Google is different in different countries and languages, so experiment with your searches). For example, if you were looking at the reception of Persepolis, you might want to see how it was reviewed in France (where it was first published), the Middle East, the US, and so on. Basically, you're looking for patterns in the journalistic response, which forms part of the general cultural apparatus whereby the values and significance of works (literary and otherwise) are assessed and judged. Develop a thesis or argument on that basis. (1,000 words; due with portfolio in Week 3, Term 3)
(b) ‘Creative reading’: Rewrite a portion of one (1) of our two summer term works using supplementary content, an alternative narrative point of view, an alternative style or an alternative generic protocol (noir, gothic, romance, etc.). Briefly justify your choices in a reflective paragraph. (1,000 words, excluding the reflective paragraph; due with portfolio in Week 3, Term 3)
If you are here for the full year, you should follow the usual assessment pattern for first-year students, as above.
If you are here for 1 or 2 terms only, you will write 2,000-word essays for each term, based either on existing essay assignments or, if you wish, on a topic of your own choosing (confirm with your tutor beforehand); these essays are due in Week 12 of Terms 1 or 2 and Week 7 of Term 3.
Full-year honours-level students write three 3,000-word essays, again using either existing assignments or topics of your own choosing.