Modernist Literature | Department of English

Modernist Literature

Course Summary

Modernism is an aesthetic paradigm that prevailed in a number of artistic domains in the early part of the twentieth century. This course familiarizes the student with literary modernism. We will study exemplary works in the major genres of literature: fiction, drama, and poetry. Through this study the student will gain a sound understanding of the particulars of the modernist aesthetic as well as of the cultural, political, and philosophical ethos that informed it.

Course Aims

1.    To introduce the student to some major texts of modernist literature.
2.    To familiarize the student with the themes that dominated modernist literature.
3.    To sensitize the student to the elements of form and to the modernist aesthetic.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of the course, students will be able to:
a)    Be conversant with the events, themes, politics, and philosophies that informed the creation of modernist texts.
b)    Identify the stylistic features that distinguish modernist texts from the texts that preceded them.
c)    Perform a critical analysis of a modernist text using the frameworks learnt in this course.

Curriculum Content

James Joyce, “The Dead” (1914).
Virginia Woolf, Mrs Dalloway (1925).
Arthur Miller, Death of a Salesman (1949).

Poetry: A selection of poems by poets such as William Butler Yeats, Wilfred Owen, H.D., William Carlos Williams, Marianne Moore, Wallace Stevens, Rainer Maria Rilke, and T S Eliot.

Weekly Schedule:
Week 1    -    Introduction. Discussion on Modernity vs Modernism.
Week 2    -    Pre-discussion Quiz on Irish history 
-    Discussion of James Joyce’s ‘The Dead’
Week 3    -    Discussion of James Joyce’s ‘The Dead’
Week 4    -    Discussion of James Joyce’s ‘The Dead’
-    Test1 on ‘The Dead’
Week 5    -    Pre-discussion Quiz on the novel Mrs Dalloway
-    Discussion on Mrs Dalloway 
Week 6    -    Discussion on Mrs Dalloway
Week 7    -    Discussion on Mrs Dalloway
Week 8    -    Discussion on Mrs Dalloway
Week 9    -    Midsem exam on Mrs Dalloway
Week 10    -    Discussion on Death of a Salesman
Week 11    -    Discussion on Modernist Poems
Week 12    -    Discussion on Modernist Poems
Week 13    -    Discussion on Modernist Poems
-    [Assignment submission (Test2) on Death of a Salesman]
Week 14    -    Discussion on Modernist Poems

Teaching and Learning Strategy

a)    Lectures: The prose fiction and the play will require prior study by the students, followed by discussion in class. The poems will be introduced in class and discussed spontaneously. 
b)    Tutorials will be used for addressing questions and for looking at extra material.
c)    Blackboard: BB will be used to share e-books and other class material, and to enable online discussions.

Teaching and Learning Strategy    Class Hours    Out-of-Class Hours
Lectures    45 hours    90 hours
Tutorials    15 hours    


Assessment Strategy    
a)    Pre-discussion Quizes to ensure knowledge of the text
b)    Tests
c)    Mid-term exam
d)    Assignemnt
e)    Final Exam

Mapping of Learning Outcomes to Assessment Strategy 

Assessment Scheme

Type of Assessment    Description    Weightage
Quiz1    Pre-discussion quiz on “The Dead”    5%
Test1    Questions on “The Dead”    10%
Quiz2    Pre-discussion quiz on Mrs Dalloway    10%
Midterm Exam    Questions on Mrs Dalloway    30%
Assignment    Assignment on Death of a Salesman    15%
Final Exam    Questions on modernist poetry    30%
Total    100%


James Joyce, “The Dead” (1914).
Virginia Woolf, Mrs Dalloway (1925).
Arthur Miller, Death of a Salesman (1949).

(Suggested Readings)
Malcolm Bradbury and James McFarlane. Modernism: A Guide to European Literature 1890-1930
Peter Childs. Modernism. 
Christopher Butler. Modernism: A Very Short Introduction
Raymond Williams: Politics of Modernism

Course Code: 
Course Credits: 
Course Level: