ENGL315-21S1 (C) Semester One 2021

The Twentieth Century Novel

30 points

Start Date: Monday, 22 February 2021
End Date: Sunday, 27 June 2021
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Sunday, 7 March 2021
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Friday, 14 May 2021


A comparative study of eight novels in English that reflect or have helped to shape our sense of what Isaiah Berlin called "this most terrible century in Western history". The course will examine the notion that the breakdown of families, hierarchies and nineteenth century imperial certainties contributed to the proliferation of parodic, subversive, and dystopian novels as the twentieth century progressed.

In its investigation of the novels the course will also attend to the various critical contexts – modernism, Marxism, humanism, postmodernism, post-structuralism, feminism and post-colonialism – that have helped shaped the twentieth-century imagination.

This course can be used towards an English major or minor. BA students who major in English would normally take at least two 100-level 15 point ENGL courses (which must include at least one of the following: ENGL117, ENGL102 or ENGL103), at least three 200-level 15 point ENGL courses, and at least two 300-level 30 point ENGL courses. Please see the BA regulations  or a student advisor for more information.

Learning Outcomes

  • In this course you will learn:
  • an ability to consider both literary and cultural ways of reading a selection of twentieth-century fiction;
  • familiarity with a range of major twentieth-century novels and appreciation of the conditions of each novel’s production;
  • an understanding of the way twentieth-century historical and cultural movements have shaped literature and literary criticism;
  • experience constructing critical arguments, with a focus on the comparative literary analysis essay
    • University Graduate Attributes

      This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attributes specified below:

      Critically competent in a core academic discipline of their award

      Students know and can critically evaluate and, where applicable, apply this knowledge to topics/issues within their majoring subject.

      Employable, innovative and enterprising

      Students will develop key skills and attributes sought by employers that can be used in a range of applications.

      Globally aware

      Students will comprehend the influence of global conditions on their discipline and will be competent in engaging with global and multi-cultural contexts.


Any 30 points at 200 level from ENGL, or
any 60 points at 200 level from the Schedule V of the BA.

Course Coordinator / Lecturer

Paul Millar


Nicholas Wright


Assessment Due Date Percentage 
Attendance and participation 10%
In-class presentation 20%
A comparative essay 30%
Take-home test 40%

Textbooks / Resources

Because of the substantial reading load, students are strongly advised to read as many novels as possible before classes commence. Class discussions will proceed on the assumption that all students have read the text.

Text books (in order of study):

• Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse (1927)
• Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited (1945)
• George Orwell, Nineteen-Eight Four (1949)
• Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea (1966)
• Thomas Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49 (1966)
• Don DeLillo, Mao II (1991)
• Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things (1997)
• Zadie Smith, White Teeth (2000)

Please note: Due to changes in the administration and structure of ENGL315 for 2021, two of the texts prescribed earlier (The House of Spirits and The God of Small Things) are no longer taught. In their place, we will be teaching Intensive Care and White Teeth.

(Image: "Clockwork Orange eye scene" by Gwendal Uguen, licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.)

Course links

Library portal

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $1,570.00

International fee $7,000.00

* All fees are inclusive of NZ GST or any equivalent overseas tax, and do not include any programme level discount or additional course-related expenses.

For further information see Humanities and Creative Arts .

All ENGL315 Occurrences

  • ENGL315-21S1 (C) Semester One 2021