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EN2C7/EN3C7 Devolutionary British Fiction

SEE BELOW FOR PROPOSED TEACHING TIMES FOR 2022/23 - PLEASE NOTE THAT THESE COULD BE SUBJECT TO CHANGE AT SHORT NOTICE:
DAY/TIME:
TUES 11-12:30
TUES 12:30 - 2:00

Convenor: Professor Michael Gardiner

This module looks at issues of power, representation, democracy, and decline, and in particular in the cultural registrations of Britain's constituent nations to union and empire. It asks about how late-British and 'post-British' thinking might point to new ways of reading key texts, and might be thought of as an investigation into the mythologies of Britishness. It reads post-1940 texts for themes including: the founding form of the British state, nationality, immigration, and constitutional crises, devolution (the policy of sharing authority with British regions and nations), Brexit, and the ends of the neoliberal era.
There are no specific requirements for students beginning this module. By the end, there should be some familiarity with the broad historical parameters, particularly the two sets of national devolution referendums (1979, 1997), the 2014 Scottish independence referendum, and ongoing issues of constitutional change. We are likely to also consider: ‘democratic deficit’ - the 'distantness' of power from people after 1979, and its literary responses; post-war consensus and its futures and its links to Thatcherism, attacks on and defences of ‘British values’; the cultural persistence of British empire; ‘postcolonial melancholia’; questions of place, experience, physicality, violence, addiction, and ‘embodiedness’; Britain's relation to the 'worldly', for example through the nuclear deterrent; old-style English Literature’s canon, how it came about and the pressures on it during devolution and imperial contraction; psychiatry and anti-psychiatry; psychogeography; language dialect, and accent; and the politics of Standard and non-Standard English.

There is no requirement to have any specific A-Levels, for example in History or Politics, and there is no need for any specific knowledge in this fields, only a willingness to read around the subject. You are expected to do some personal work to investigate the historical backgrounds of the periods in which we read, in whatever way works for you (though we will have an overall reading list). Historical embedding is important to all modules in the department, even if this one feels particularly 'historical'; however, you can simply consider this a 'post-1940 fiction' module if you like.


Each week there will be one set text. You have to be familiar with this, and you usually have to buy it. There will be some 'primary texts' in the library, but there will be pressure on these, and it is better to have your own. (We will talk about availability in Week One - there is nothing much to worry about here, texts are almost all easily available). Paper books are much preferred to e-books. There will also be a couple of recommended texts, which are not compulsory but which it is in your own interest to look at. Note that these do not always perfectly fit with the set text, some are staggered across weeks.


Please note that the tutors on this module are not offering personal political opinions, and that set or recommended texts are not necessarily being politically endorsed.

There is one seminar a week - for which you will have to have become familiar with the set text and be ready to take about it. There are no lectures. There are no seminars in Term Three.

Assessment

Assessment is by two 4000 word essays or two 5000 word essays (see below). Write on one or more texts from the relevant term, plus anything else or nothing else. Students choose their own titles; you can get these titles looked at by the module tutor by Fri Week 10, but don't have to.
Link to advice on essay writing is below.

Intermediate Years:
2 x 4000 word essays

Final Years:
2 x 5000 word essays

SYLLABUS 2022-23


1. Introduction, no preparation required


I. Consensus

2. SET: George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949), and ‘England, Your England’ (1941)
SUGGESTED:
Orwell, ‘Notes on Nationalism’ (1945), widely available
Orwell, Essays (Penguin, any edition; choose any essays you're interested in)
Orwell, Orwell and England (essays) (Macmillan, 2020)
Nikolas Rose, Governing the Soul (1989)
Any historical account of the post-war consensus
WE COULD THINK ABOUT:
. What does Orwell do with Britain's 'natural' or 'organic' authority?;
. Is Orwell's distinction between nationalism and patriotism convincing?;
. Is Oceania the Anglosphere?;
. Is Orwell right about the powers of nationalism ('patriotism')?;
. What were the conditions of post-war Britain and how do these feed into the novel?

3. SET: Anthony Burgess, A Clockwork Orange (1962)
SUGGESTED:
dir. Stanley Kubrick, A Clockwork Orange (1971) (available on Box of Broadcasts)
Anthony Burgess, 1985 (1978)
WE COULD THINK ABOUT:
. Why is there so much Slavic language in the book?;
. Is the book's violence 'meaningless'?;
. What contemporary dangers are being expanded into this speculation?;
. What does the environment and architecture of the book and film look like?

4. SET: Muriel Spark, The Ballad of Peckham Rye (1960)
SUGGESTED:
Alan Sillitoe, ‘The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner’ (story) (1959)
dir. Tony Richardson, The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner (film) (1962)
Robert Louis Stevenson, ‘The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’ (1886)
G.E. Davie, The Democratic Intellect (1961)
various essays in eds. Michael Gardiner and Willy Maley, The Edinburgh Companion to Muriel Spark (2013)
various essays in Textual Practice 32-9 (2018)
WE COULD THINK ABOUT:
. What are the differences between the Scottish and English education systems, and why do they matter?;
. What are the C20 legacies of the Universities of Edinburgh and Cambridge?;
. Why is Scottish writing sometimes described as 'schizophrenic'?;
. Are some texts more poetic and connotative, and why does this matter?;
. during the post-war consensus, how did the 'communal' imperative to production play out?;
. What was 'time and motion study'?

5. SET: Raymond Williams, Border Country (1960)
SUGGESTED:
Raymond Williams, Culture and Society (1958)
Raymond Williams, The Country and the City (1973)
Raymond Williams, Who Speaks for Wales? (2003) (here is one part of this but see contents, 1926 chapter, and Welsh fiction tradition chapters)

WE COULD THINK ABOUT:
. What is Wales's place in post-war Britain?;
. what is the significance of the Grammar School then Cambridge background?;
. how does the 1926 General Strike speak to post-war Britain?;
. what is nonconformism and how does it relate to Britishness?

II. Thatcherism, Ireland, the 'English Civil War'

7. SET: Doris Lessing, Memoirs of a Survivor (1974)

SUGGESTED:
dir. Derek Jarman, Jubilee (1978)
Robert Moss, The Collapse of Democracy (1976), first chapter
John Rowe Townsend, Noah's Castle (1975)
dir. and wr. Adam Curtis, The Mayfair Set (1999)
WE COULD THINK ABOUT:
. Fears about, and forms of, British collapse in the mid-'70s;
. roots of the Conservative counter-revolution; elements of the sense of loss of value

8. SET: Chris Mullin, A Very British Coup (1982)
SUGGESTED:
dir. Mick Jackson, A Very British Coup (1988)
Tom Nairn, The Break-Up of Britain (1977)
Iain McLean, What's Wrong with the British Constitution? (2010)
WE COULD THINK ABOUT:
The British 'deep state';
. the importance of the nuclear deterrent to Britain and the Anglosphere;
. entryism, 'absolute parliamentary sovereignty', and the quandry of the 'British left';
. the fates of Michael Foot and Jeremy Corbyn

9. SET: David Peace, GB84 (2004)
SUGGESTED:
Seumas Milne, The Enemy Within: The Secret War Against the Miners (1994)
dir. and wr. Bernard Jackson and Tony Wardle, The Battle for Orgreave (1986)
Frank Kitson, Low Intensity Operations: Subversion, Insurgency, and Peacekeeping (1971)
WE COULD THINK ABOUT:
. The gradual 'militarisation' of policing;
. the long prehistory of the 1984-85 Miners' Strike;
. the values of Thatcherism and trade unionism;
. the British world before and after mass trade unions; the neutrality of the press;
. parataxis and the presentation of Britishness

10. SET: dir. Steve McQueen, Hunger (2008)
SUGGESTED:
Timothy Shanahan, The Provisional Irish Republican Army and the Morality of Terrorism (2009)
Bobby Sands, One Day in My Life (1993)
WE COULD THINK ABOUT:
. The status of the 'political' versus the 'non-political' prisoner in Britain;
. Catholicism and Britishness; the threat of the IRA and the Thatcherite reaction;
. the use of colour palette in film to suggest mood; sound editing in film;
. the nature of political protest in post-1970s Britain


III. The Second Scottish Literary Renaissance

11. SET: Alasdair Gray, Lanark (1981)
SUGGESTED:
R.D. Laing, The Divided Self (1961)
Cairns Craig, The Modern Scottish Novel (1999)
Robert Crawford, Devolving English Literature (1992/ 2000), chapter 'Modernism as Provincialism'
WE COULD THINK ABOUT:
.
Scotland's problem with 'representation';
. origins of the (1980s-90s) Literary Renaissance;
. Lanark and its aesthetic precedents (surrealism, anti-psychiatry, and so on);
. the influence of Gray

12. SET: James Kelman, How Late It Was, How Late (1994)
SUGGESTED:
James Kelman, And the Judges Said... (2002)
essays from ed. Scott Hames, The Edinburgh Companion to James Kelman (2010)
WE COULD THINK ABOUT:
. 'dialect' and prestige';
. 'the Booker Prize controversy';
. 'dialectical' (ie thesis-antithesis) prose;
. the visual and the haptic;
. 'spiral' narrative

13. SET: Irvine Welsh, Trainspotting (1993)
SUGGESTED:
essays in ed. Berthold Schoene, The Edinburgh Companion to Contemporary Scottish Literature (Edinburgh: EUP, 2007)
dir. Danny Boyle, Trainspotting (1996)
Michael Gardiner, 'British Liberalism's Opiate Subjectivity' (2021)
WE COULD THINK ABOUT:
. Opiates, Britishness, and addiction;
. parodies of Thatcherism;
. the absorption of the Literary Renaissance into 'Cool Britannia'

14. SET: Janice Galloway, The Trick is to Keep Breathing (1989)
SUGGESTED:
essays in Schoene, as above, and catchup
WE COULD THINK ABOUT:
. location, nationality, and gender;
. anti-psychiatry - illness as social-historical;
. the influence of Kelman;
. typographical experiment and whether it is particularly Scottish;
. fiction and depression

IV. Psychogeography, Melancholia, Nostalgia, Hauntology, Brexit

15. SET: J.G. Ballard, Concrete Island (1974)
SUGGESTED:
Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe (1719)
Muriel Spark, Robinson (1958)
Iain Sinclair, London Orbital (2000)
WE COULD THINK ABOUT:
. What it means to inhabit the land;
. the reconstruction of foundational British myths;
. 'Robinsonades';
. the turn from the car to walking;
. England as 'magical'

17. SET: Russell Hoban, Riddley Walker (1980)
SUGGESTED:
dir. Mick Jackson, Threads (1984)
Duncan Campbell, Secret Society: In Time of Crisis (documentary) (1987)
WE COULD THINK ABOUT:
. The nuclear war crisis of the early 1980s;
. why Britain has a nuclear deterrent;
. who makes nuclear decisions;
. why we don't talk about the nuclear deterrent more;
. why 'cyclical histories' are subversive of Britishness
. 'folk languages'

18. SET: Mark Fisher, Ghosts of My Life (2014)
SUGGESTED:
Katy Shaw, Hauntology (2020)
Grafton Tanner, The Hours Have Lost Their Clock (2021)
Mark Fisher, essays from K-Punk (2018)
Laura Oldfield Ford, Savage Messiah, text and introduction (2011)
WE COULD THINK ABOUT:
. The nostalgia industry; what makes up 'British time';
. the neoliberal 'hell of the same';
. the 2000s-10s revival of place

19. SET: Fiona Mozley, Elmet (2017)
SUGGESTED:
Jez Butterworth, Jerusalem (2009)
dir. Mackenzie Crook, Detectorists (2014-2022)
WE COULD THINK ABOUT:
. The relationship between violence and solidarity;
. what Elmet is;
. the significance of woodland;
. ideas of gender in contemporary Britain

20. SET: dir. Robin Hardy, The Wicker Man (1973)
SUGGESTED:
Adam Scovell, Folk Horror (2017)
dir. Piers Haggard, The Blood on Satan's Claw (1971)
WE COULD THINK ABOUT:
. The role of Folk Horror in the new place-specificity;
. the return of the Jacobite and the barbaric;
. animism versus empiricism;
. British commercial empire's attitude to its peripheries

EXTRA READING (LIST PROVISIONAL AND ONGOING)

 

I. Consensus

Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism (London: Verso, 2006 (1983))

Alexander Broadie, The Cambridge Companion to the Scottish Enlightenment (Cambridge: CUP, 2003)

Angus Calder, The Myth of the Blitz (London: Johnathan Cape, 1991)

Stanley Cohen, Folk Devils and Moral Panics (London: Routledge, 2011)

G.E. Davie, The Democratic Intellect: Scotland and Her Universities in the Nineteenth Century (Ednburgh: EUP, 2013 (1961))

William Davies, The Limits of Neoliberalism (London: Sage, 2014) (ebook is through Warwick library)

Daniel Defoe, History of the Union (any edition (1709)) (easily findable online)

David Edgerton, The Rise and Fall of the British Nation (London: Penuin, 2019)

Stuart Hall et al., Policing the Crisis (London: Palgrave 2013 (1978))

Owen Hatherley, Militant Modernism (Winchester: Zer0, 2014)


Michael Gardiner, Time and Action in the Scottish Independence Referendum (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2015)


Derek Jarman, wr and dir, Jubilee (1978): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q4ao9nnn_p8

Derek Jarman, wr and dir, The Last of England (1988)

John Locke, Two Treatises on Government (any edition (1689))

Martin McQuillan, Theorising Muriel Spark (Bastingstoke: Palgrave, 2000)

Tom Maschler, Declaration (London: McKIbbon and Kee, 1957)

Mary Poovey, Genres of the Credit Economy (Chicago: Chicago UP, 2008)

Karel Reisz, dir, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning

Nikolas Rose, Governing the Soul: The Shaping of the Private Self (London: Free Association, 1999 (1991))

Alan Sillitoe, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, 1958/ any edition

Michael Young, The Rise of the Meritocracy, 1957/ any edition

various directors, Free Cinema (London: BFI, 2006 (1952-63)) (this is a DVD, but look at related BFI material, e.g. on their youtube channel)

Raymond Williams, Culture and Society (any edition (1958)) (cf. Essential Writings 2014 - ebook is through Warwick library)

II. Thatcherism

Andy Beckett, Promised You a Miracle (Penguin, 2016)

William Davies, The Limits of Neoliberalism (Sage, 2014)

Andrew Gamble, The Strong Economy and the Free State (1988)

Michael Gardiner, 'Eco-Catastrophe, arithmetic patriotism, and the Thatcherite promise of nature', 2018

R. Hefferman, New Labour and Thatcherism (2000)

Institute for Economic Affairs back catalogue

John Medhurst, That Option No Longer Exists: Britain 1974-76 (Winchester: Zero, 2014)

The Miners' Campaign Tapes DVD (2009): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_LLzNdtf13s&list=PLNDns19Vyd0LoykMibDlcud5RioRAIF8F

Tom Nairn, After Britain: New Labour and the Return of Scotland (London: Granta, 2000)

Jon Savage, England's Dreaming (London: Faber and Faber, 2005 (1991))

Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations (any edition (1776))

Alwyn Turner, Crisis? What Crisis?: Britain in the 1970s (London: Aurum, 2013 (2008))

III. The Second Scottish Literary Renaissance

Various essays in ed. James Acheson, The Contemporary British Novel (Edinburgh: EUP, 2005)

Timothy C. Baker, ‘Scottish Utopian Fiction and the Invocation of God’, Utopian Studies 21-1, 2010

Robert Boyers, Laing and Anti-Psychiatry (London: Penguin, 1973)

eds. Brown, Clancy, Manning, Pittock, The Edinburgh History of Scottish Literature, Vol 3 (Edinburgh: EUP, 2007)

Joseph Brooker, Literature After the 1980s: After the Watershed (Edinburgh: EUP, 2010)

David Cooper, The Language of Madness (1978)

Cairns Craig, 'Resisting Arrest: James Kelman', in eds. Randall and Wallace, The Scottish Novel Since the Seventies (Edinburgh: EUP, 1993)


Cairns Craig, Out of History: Narrative Paradigms in Scottish and English Culture (Edinburgh: Polygon, 1996)

Cairns Craig, ‘1979, Edinburgh and Glasgow: Devolution Deferred’, in ed. Randall Stevenson, The Edinburgh Companion to Twentieth Century Literatures in English (Edinburgh: EUP, 2006)

Cairns Craig, ed. The History of Scottish Literature, Vol. 4, The Twentieth Century (Aberdeen: Aberdeen UP, 1987)


Robert Crawford, Scotland's Books (2007)

Owen Dudley Edwards, A Claim of Right for Scotland (Edinburgh: Polygon, 1989)

Michael Gardiner, ‘British Territory: Irvine Welsh in English and Japanese’, Textual Practice 17-1, 2001

Felix Guattari, 'The Divided Laing' in ed. Gary Genosko, The Guattari Reader (Oxford: Blackwell, 1996 (1970))

Various essays in ed. Scott Hames, The Edinburgh Companion to James Kelman (Edinburgh: EUP, 2010)

Christopher Harvie, Scotland and Nationalism: Scottish Society and Politics 1707 to the Present (Routledge, 2004 (1977))

Gerry Hassan, The Modern SNP: From Protest to Power (Edinburgh: EUP, 2009) (ebook is through Warwick library)

Franz Kafka, The Trial, 1925

Michael Keating, Nations Against the State (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2001 (1996))

James Kelman, A Chancer (Edinburgh: Polygon, 2009 (1985))

James Kelman, The Good Times (Secker and Warburg, 1998)

Simon Kovesi, James Kelman (Manchester: MUP, 2007)

David McCrone, Understanding Scotland: Sociology of a Stateless Nation (any edition (1989))

Iain McLean, What's Wrong With the British Constitution? (Oxford: OUP, 2010)

Gavin Miller, ‘Literary Narrative as Sociology in the Work of Kurt Vonnegut and Alasdair Gray’, Journal of Narrative Theory 31-3, 2001

Gavin Miller, Alasdair Gray: the Fiction of Communion (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2005)

Duncan Petrie, Contemporary Scottish Fictions: Film, Television and the Novel (Edinburgh: EUP, 2004)

Alan Riach, Representing Scotland in Literature, Popular Culture, and Iconography (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2005)

ed. Alan Riach, The Edinburgh Companion to Twentieth-Century Scottish Literature (Edinburgh: EUP, 2009)

Essays in Berthold Schoene, ed., The Edinburgh Companion to Irvine Welsh (Edinburgh: EUP, 2010)

Thomas Szasz, The Myth of Mental Illness (New York: Harper Perennial, 2010 (1961))

David Torrance, 'We in Scotland': Thatcherism in a Cold Climate (Edinburgh: Birlinn, 2009)

Peter Trudgill, Sociolinguistics: an introduction to language and society (London: Penguin, 2000 (1974))

IV. Psychogeography, Melancholia, Nostalgia, Hauntology, Brexit

Arthur Aughey, The Politics of Englishness (Manchester: MUP, 2007)

J.G. Ballard, Kingdom Come (London: Fourth Estate, 2006)

Jeanette Baxter, J.G. Ballard: Contemporary Critical Perspectives. London: Continuum, 2009

Various essays in Nick Bentley et al. ed., The 2000s: A Decade of Contemporary British Fiction (London: Bloomsbury, 2015)

G.K. Chesterton, The Secret People, 1908: http://www.gkc.org.uk/gkc/books/secret-people.html 

Robert Colls, The Identity of England (Oxford: Oxford University Press), 2002/ 2009

Laura Colombino, Spatial Politics in Contemporary London Literature (New York: Routledge, 2013)

Merlin Coverley, Psychogeography (Pocket Essentials, 2010)

Merlin Covereley, Hauntology (Oldcastle, 2020)

Susan Condor, ‘Devolution and National Identity: The Rules of English (Dis)engagement’. Nations and Nationalism 16, 2010: 525-543

Michael Doyle, English and Englishness (London: Routledge, 1989) (ebook is through Warwick library)

Matt Colquohon, Egress: On Mourning, Melancholy, and Mark Fisher (London: Repeater, 2020)

ed. Robert Eaglestone, Brexit and Literature (London: Routledge, 2018)

Jed Esty, A Shrinking Island: Modernism and National Culture in England (Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press, 2003/ 2004)

Simon Featherstone, Englishness: Twentieth-Century Popular Culture and the Forming of English Identity (Edinburgh: EUP, 2009)

Brian Finney, English Fiction Since 1984: Narrating a Nation (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006)

Mark Fisher, Capitalist Realism (Winchester: Zero, 2009)

Mark Fisher, 'What is Hauntology?' Film Quaterly 66-1, 2012: https://fq.ucpress.edu/content/ucpfq/66/1/16.full.pdf 

Mark Fisher, ‘The Slow Cancellation of the Future’: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aCgkLICTskQ

Mark Fisher, 'The Weird and the Eerie' (Repeater, 2016)

Samuel Francis, The Psychological Fictions of J.G Ballard (London Bloomsbury 2013)

Michael Gardiner, The Return of England in English Literature (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2012)


David Graeber, The Utopia of Rules (London: Random House, 2015)

Paul Gilroy, There Ain’t No Black in the Union Jack: The Cultural Politics of Race and Nation (London: Routledge, 2002)

Robert Hazell, ed., The English Question (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2006)

Howard Ingham, Jon Dear, et al., We Don’t Go Back: A Watcher’s Guide to Folk Horror (self-published, 2018)

Henri Lefebvre, The Production of Space (Oxford: Blackwell, 1991)

Richard Littler, Discovering Scarfolk (Ebury, 2014)

Patrick Keiller, dir, Robinson in Ruins (2011)

Michael Kenny, The Politics of English Nationhood (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014)

Krishnan Kumar, The Making of English National Identity (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003/ 2010)

Richard Mabey, The Unofficial Countryside (London: Little Toller Books 2010)

James Mitchell, ‘England and the Centre’, Regional Studies 36-7, 2002

H.V. Morton, In Search of England, 1927/ any edition

Paul Kingsnorth, Real England (London: Granta, 2009)

Paul Kingsnorth, The Wake (Unbound, 2015)

Lee Rozelle, ‘“I am the Island”: Dystopia and Ecocidal Imagination in Rushing to Paradise, Super-Cannes, and Concrete Island’, Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment 17-1, 2010

Harlan Wilson, J.G. Ballard (Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 2017)

Mark Perryman, ed., Imagined Nation: England after Britain (London: Lawrence and Wishart, 2008)

Iain Sinclair, Sorry Meniscus (London: Profile, 1999)

Ben Wheatley, dir., A Field in England, 2013

Simon Reynolds, Retromania (London: Faber, 2012)

J.B. Priestley, English Journey, 1934/ any edition

Ken Russell, dir, wr. Christopher Logue, Savage Messiah, 1972

Duncan Petrie, ‘Scottish Gothic and the Moving Image: A Tale of Two Traditions’, in ed. Carol Margaret Davison, Scottish Gothic: An Edinburgh Companion (Edinburgh: EUP, 2017)

Jonathan Rigby, English Gothic: Classic Horror Cinema 1897-2015 (Cambridge: Signum, 2015)

James Rose, Beyond Hammer: British Horror Cinema Since 1970 (Leighton Buzzard: Auteur, 2009)

Ivor Southwood, Non-Stop Inertia (Winchester: Zer0, 2011) (ebook is through Warwick Library)

Ben Wellings, English Nationalism, Brexit and the Anglosphere (Manchester: MUP, 2019)

Hauntological music: Ghost Box label, Boards of Canada, Broadcast, Vaporwave and Hardvapor, Daniel Lopatin, James Ferraro, Ikonika, Actress, Philip Jeck, Position Normal, ‘neo-’80s’ e.g. Drab Majesty, C21 postpunk revival, ‘New Retro’, Sovietwave (many youtube/ Spotify lists), Eastern European retro synth, Афина, ‘Ostalgie’ etc., '8-bit composition'...

The original Folk Horror triad: The Wicker Man and dir. Michael Reeves, Witchfinder General (1968) and dir. Piers Haggard, Blood on Satan’s Claw (1971)


ASSESSMENT: Students make their own essay titles for this module. You can have your essay title, and broad idea, okayed by your seminar tutor - the deadline for this is Friday Week 10 of the preceding term, and having a title okayed is not compulsory.
Remember that you only have to talk about one set text from the relevant term, though essays will often work better with two set text; you can, and are encouraged to, bring in any other texts that you think will be interesting in the discussion - 'A theme in B course text and C non-course text'. These texts do not have to be 'literary'.
Titles generally work best when simplest and most concrete, and usually dealing with one or more of the topics listed above. They will often take a form like 'Theme A in Text B and Text C', 'Theme A in Text B', 'Is Text A (provocative description)?', 'How does Text A relate to Text B in terms of (historical scenario/ turning point)?'.
Some very broad examples might be (and you are advised not to choose these but to come up with your own): Term One: 'The Questioning of Post-War Consensus in BPR and BC'; 'How would we understand a "Third English Civil War"?'; 'The Imperative of Productivity in BPR'; 'In what ways does NEF question Britishness?'; 'Roots of Thatcherism in MS and GB84'; 'Did the UK irrecoverably decline in the 1970s?'; 'The import of "the troubles" from Northern Ireland to the mainland in GB84 and Hunger'; 'The growing sense of impotence of the Labour Party - MS and AVBC'; 'Was Jeremy Corbyn the next Harry Perkins?'; 'Educational traditions and the national question in BC and BPR'; 'Was Orwell anti-nationalist?'; Term Two: 'The issue of Scotland and representation in Lanark and HLIW'; 'What did the Kelman "Booker Prize controversy" suggest about Standard English and literary narration?'; 'To what extent is "English" really Scottish?'; 'Embodied experience in Trainspotting and TITKB'; 'The place of anti-psychiatry in the Scottish Literary Renaissance'; 'Writing and Memory in Lanark and TITKB'; 'Gender and Nation in TITKB'; 'Why the postcolonial Robinsonade?'; 'Psychogeography, HLIW, and CI'; 'Britishness and Nuclear Deterrence: AVBC and RW'; 'Cyclical history as post-British critique in RW'; 'Hauntology in RW, Elmet, and The Wicker Man'; 'How Mark Fisher's critique differs from nostalgia'; 'Is nostalgia particularly British?'; 'Why is hauntology so concerned with the 1970s?'; 'What hauntology tells us about the 2020s'; 'The "Anglo-Israeli" tradition in recent writing, or, why England is "enchanted" in Jerusalem and Elmet'; 'Jacobitism and The Wicker Man'; 'Folk Horror, Collapse, and Return'.

Advice on Writing Essays