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Essay 2 2007-08

EN263 Devolutionary British Fiction 1930-Present


Essay Two

Due: Term 3, Week 1, Monday 21st April 2008


Maximum Word Length: 2,500


Choose one of the following questions. You must refer at length to at least two set texts in your discussion*. You may if you wish compose your own question but only following consultation with your tutor. You may also select a question from last term (not the one you used for your first essay and using this term’s texts, obviously).


*Excepting questions 9 and 10, should you choose to tackle one of these.


Two copies of the essay must be handed in to the English Department office by 3pm.



1. Critically compare a text originating from one British national context to another (e.g. a Scottish text with a Welsh one). Refer to formal as well as thematic issues in your answer.


2. Evaluate the manner in which some devolutionary novels can be perceived as responses to or analyses of Thatcherism. Discuss with reference to at least two course texts.


3. ‘Does your English let you down? Many people do not realise how much they could influence others simply by speaking and writing with greater power, authority and precision.’ (Advertisement by Practical English Programme, The Times, 14 July 1997)

Analyse the ways in which devolutionary writers use the issue of language – formally and thematically - as a response to the authoritative determination of power and/or identity in a British cultural context.


4. “Take devolution and nationalism. While the United Kingdom has always been a country of different nations and thus of plural identities --- a Welshman can be Welsh and British just as a Cornishman or woman is Cornish, English and British - and may be Muslim, Pakistani or Afro Caribbean, Cornish, English and British --- the issue is whether we retreat into more exclusive identities rooted in 19th century conceptions of blood, race and territory, or whether we are still able to celebrate a British identity which is bigger than the sum of its parts and a Union that is strong because of the values we share and because of the way these values are expressed through our history and our institutions.” Speech by the Rt. Honourable Gordon Brown MP, July 2004.


Using the above quotation as a platform for your discussion, analyse how devolutionary texts can be interpreted as either supporting or rejecting the sentiments it expresses.


5. Discuss the ways in which Tourism is a significant issue in devolutionary British writing.


6. “Glasgow can be any other town or city in Great Britain, including London, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Cambridge, Newcastle or Ramsgate…..” (James Kelman, ‘The Importance of Glasgow in My Work’) Write an essay on the prominence of the urban (or, conversely, the rural/physical) environment in texts from Term Two.


7. Make a case for the assertion that devolutionary novels are best interpreted in a global (and/or European) perspective rather than a British one (or Scottish, Irish, Welsh, etc).


8. “And look at me mum, squatting pissed in a tube-hole at Tottenham Court Road. I just come out of The Ship, talking to the most blonde I ever met, shouting: Lager lager lager lager. Shouting: Lager lager lager lager. Shouting: Lager lager lager…” (Underworld, Born Slippy, 1995)

Write an essay either on the subject of drinking and/or hedonism or the subject of morality and youth culture in Britain in the texts you have studied this term.


9. Make a case for the inclusion of a novel you have read that is not on the course. Your essay must refer to at least one set text by way of comparison. The novel must be ‘British’ and from the last twenty–five years.


10. Internet research task. You must critically review the usefulness for undergraduate students of a web-based resource that helps you to interpret at least one of the set texts on the course (or, if you wish, the general context of devolution and British fiction). Your review should primarily address the web page’s content in tandem with the central issues, formal features etc, of the novel you choose. Please consult with you tutor before embarking on this question.