Skip to main content

T2 2017/18 Essay Questions

Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies

EN 263 Devolutionary British Fiction

Assessed Essay Questions

Term Two 2017-18


5000 words. Consult essay deadlines on departmental website for due date.

The following topics are suggestions. You may modify them, or devise one of your own, but should do so only in consultation with your seminar tutor. While you may range as widely as you like in Devo texts, not necessarily confining yourself to books studied on the module, you should make reference to at least two of the set texts studied in TERM TWO. *

* Unless you decide to do question 13

1. “I can’t remember the last week with any clarity.” Janice Galloway, The Trick is to Keep Breathing

Why is memory loss a significant aspect of devolutionary British fiction.

2. Make a case for the significance of the ‘experimental’ in ‘devo’ texts. (You are free to interpret ‘experimental’ as you wish.)

3. Answer one of these:

a) Authoritarianism is a recurring feature in the texts we have studied this term. Write an essay that elicits not only where and when this happens, but also how it is interpreted as a key element in at least two texts’ registration of their political and/or economic and/or historical context.

b) Write an essay on the State (or, if you prefer the Law or any other form of Institution) as it appears in devolutionary British fiction we have covered this term.

4. Speculative/sf narratives are often described as offering a form of extrapolation: making some kind of comment or hypothesis about the future world to come, based on their perception of the situation and conditions of the present.

Using at least two texts from T2,


Write an essay demonstrating how some devolutionary texts can be read as extrapolations of their contemporary British context.


Make a case for the claim that some of the texts we have covered in T2 deliberately offer a means to speculate on a world ‘beyond’ Britain.

5. ‘No-one should be branded on the tongue.’ (Orwell, ‘England Your England’)

Why is linguistic determination and/or discrimination a key feature of devolutionary fiction?

6. In what ways and for what reasons does the commodification of place and/or space feature strongly in some devo texts?

7. “Scottish novelists have been driven time and time again in this century to recreate a world entirely out of history, a world beyond the horizons of history.” (Cairns Craig, Out of History)

Analyse ways in which some writers on the course have responded to the question or concept of history (or historical events) in their work. (N.B. They need not necessarily be Scottish writers/texts).

8. ‘See when he came to think about it, he didnay really like Scotland.’ (Sammy, How late it was, how late)

Analyse the significance of national or regional senses of belonging in at least two devolutionary texts.

9. “This was not England, everyone said. This was some nightmarish version that we would wake from soon.” Sarah Hall, The Carhullan Army

Should the collapse of Britain (or the world ‘after Britain’) be interpreted as a wholly dystopian affair in some of the texts we have read?

10. In what sense is definition – self/collective - a key feature in British novels concerned with problems of identity and/or identification?

11. Why is dislocation and/or displacement a theme in the texts we have covered in T2?

12. Write about the role played by one of the following in term two texts: the city; deindustrialisation; illness; popular media; Parliament; feminism; violence; addiction; nature and/or landscape; personal or political resistance; journeys; borders; class; heritage; drugs; literature.

13. Make a case for the inclusion of a novel (or film or documentary or play, essay, video game, etc. – a text as such) you have read that is not on the T2 syllabus. Your essay must refer to at least one set text by way of comparison. The novel must be ‘British’ and from the last 40 years.