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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.
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
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.
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, orany 60 points at 200 level from the Schedule V of the BA.
Students must attend one activity from each section.
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.)
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