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Past exam papers

LMW exam 09-10


Seen paper


Answer two questions


You are encouraged to show the range of your reading in the period covered by the module (roughly, 1900 to the 1960s) but each answer should at some point concentrate on at least one of the set authors / texts.


Do not repeat material you have used for an assessed essay.



1.      Consider the role played by ‘found materials’ in modernist poetry. What does their use imply about the relation of poetry to modern culture?

  1. It’s often said that literary modernism is an urban phenomenon. Argue either for or against this view.
  2. Is it true that the formal innovations of this period have become the tradition we have inherited?

4.       ‘She sliced like a knife through everything; at the same time was outside, looking on.  She had a perpetual sense … of being out, out, far out to sea and alone.’ (Mrs Dalloway.)  Apply Woolf’s account of the way incision and insight are compromised by exclusion and distance to her work and/or that of any other writer(s) to whom you think it is relevant.

5.      Discuss the idea of ‘human bondage’ – of entrapment, incarceration, servitude and suppression – in work of this period.

6.      It has been said that war is the natural condition of mankind. How far is this view supported and/or contradicted by literature of this period?

7.      How do global considerations contribute to a reading of national location and/or identity in the works studied on the module?

  1. Discuss the ways in which literature has interpreted or used one of the following in this period: economics; sexuality; religion; new technologies; the visual arts.
  2. Henry Green wrote that there are not two or three social classes in England but thousands. Discuss the how any work relevant to the module can be said to have involved itself in issues of social division.
  3. Examine writers' responses to changing gender roles in this period.
  4. Explore in detail the influence of any one earlier writer or school of writing (which could be philosophical, psychological… not necessarily ‘literary’) in literature of the first six decades of the twentieth century.

12. Discuss the proposition that ‘tradition’ is an invention of modernity.




September 2006: Literature in the Modern World

Time allowed: 2 hours. Seen examination paper.  Answer TWO questions. You are encouraged to show the range of your reading, and may include works of the period 1900-1960 which are not set texts.  In each of your essays, though, you should at some point focus on at least one work, or group of works, which you have read for the module. Read carefully the instructions on the answer book and make sure that the particulars required are entered on each answer book. Do not substantially repeat material from assessed essays.
 1. ‘Every revolution in poetry is … a return to common speech.’ Discuss T. S. Eliot’s dictum in relation to his work or that of any other poet of this period. 

 2. ‘I wanted to write a poem / that you would understand’ (William Carlos Williams, ‘January Morning’). Discuss any poetry of this period in the light of Williams’s words.

 3. ‘The tradition of modernism is and was a tradition of diversity’ (Leonard Unger). Discuss.

 4. ‘My sense of the novel is that it has always functioned for the class or group that wrote it’ (Toni Morrison). Discuss in relation to your experience of modern fiction.

 5. Examine how any work of this period explores the effects of war on personal relationships.

 6. It has been said that any work of literature needs to be read ‘with a lively sense of its latent and ambiguous meanings.’ Discuss either how this works in practice, or what you see as the limitations of the approach, or both.

 7. Compare one of the set texts on this module with another work or body of work (e.g. a collection of poems or short stories) by the same writer, showing how they illuminate each other.

 8. Examine how one of the following is treated in literature of this period: breakdown in family relationships; gender and/or sexuality as a social construction; nation-building; the state vs. the individual; art for art’s sake.

 9. ‘The exterior world is changing, and with it man’s feelings, and every age must express its feelings in its own individual way’ (Preface to the anthology Some Imagist Poets, 1916). Discuss in relation to any work of this period.

10. EITHER: Discuss the tension between, on the one hand, the need of readers to generalize about literary periods and movements in order to make sense of them, and, on the other, every writer’s wish to do something unique;  OR: make a case for the existence of a movement, theme, stylistic development or any other linking element in literature of this period to which attention hasn’t, as far as you know, been drawn.