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Essay One

Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies

EN265 The Global Novel – Assessed Essay Topics – Term One



One hard copy of the essay AND one electronic copy should be turned in to the English Department office not later than 12 noon on Tuesday 12 Jan 2012.

The following topics are suggestions. You may modify them, or devise one of your own, but should do so only in consultation with your tutor.

While you may range as widely as you like in world prose fiction, not necessarily confining yourself to books studied on the course, you should make detailed reference to at least two of the set texts.* Material used in the essay must not be substantially repeated in the second essay or the examination.

* Unless you decide to do question 11.


1. Outline ways in which the texts we have read can be interpreted as offering either an explicit or oblique critique of globalisation. (You may, conversely, want to outline ways in which it is perceived as something to be celebrated).

2. ‘What the devil do you think you know about any damned world? What is a world? This is the world, the world is here, Summerhouses, my land, my farm is the world.’
(Bjartur, ‘Admission Tickets’, Independent People) In what ways does the world appear at the doorstep in novels from the first term?

3. Why is exploration a central theme in Global novels?

4. The experience of modernity throws up strange temporal and spatial dichotomies, what Marshall Bermann calls ‘the sense of living in two worlds simultaneously’ (All That is Solid Melts into Air, 17). Is this readable in the novels we have covered in term one?

5. With reference to at least two novels from the first term, endorse or refute the statement that the relation between ‘Home’ and ‘World’ is better recast as ‘Home’ or ‘World’?

6. ‘To see a World in a Grain of Sand’ (William Blake, ‘Auguries of Innocence’)

Develop this perspective via an analysis of any two novels from term one.

7. How and why is transformation and transition a crucial feature of global novels?

8. What, if anything, is innovative about any of the novels you have read this term?

9. Write about the role played by one or two of the following in any two term one texts: Magic and/or the Supernatural; Labour; The Stranger; Trade; Class; Family; Love; Contradiction; Literature; the narrator; Migration; new media; rebellion.

10. ‘World Literature is not a set canon of texts but a mode of reading: a form of detached engagements with worlds beyond our own time and place.’ David Damrosch, What is World Literature? (2003)

Qualify this statement using detailed reference to at least two novels from the course.

11. Make a case for the inclusion of a novel you have read that is not on the syllabus. Your essay must refer to at least one set text by way of comparison and fit the rubric of term one (‘Home and the World’).

12. How does the representation of environment (e.g. room, home, city, village, landscape, weather, nature, etc.) make global novels ‘global’?

13. ‘We had intromitted so much with concerns of trade, that we were become a part of the great web of commercial reciprocities, and felt in our corner and extremity, every touch or stir that was made on any part of the texture. (Annals of the Parish, Ch. XLIX)

Use this quotation as a means to discuss at least two of the texts from the first term.