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Ideas Of Nation

Key information

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Module description

Do you ‘belong’ to a nation? Perhaps more than one? Where do you think ‘your’ nation is? Is it tucked inside ‘borders’? Or do you carry it around inside you? Would you be willing to die for it? Why? Or why not?

If nations are so ‘diverse’, why are they all still called ‘nations’? What is a nation? Is it a ‘good’ thing?

Where do nations come from? What came ‘before’ them? Do they mark the ‘end’ of colonial eras? Or are they products of empire?

What do stories have to do with ‘nations’? And why is literature so regularly studied within national frameworks (‘Indian’ literature, ‘Italian’ literature, ‘English’ literature)?

What is happening and will happen to ‘nations’ in an era of ‘globalisation’? What is globalisation doing to the study of literature?

This module will explore these questions and more by comparing twentieth- and twenty-first-century literature identified with a number of ‘nations’.

Assessment details

1 x 3 hour unseen exam; coursework reassessment in exam period 3

Educational aims & objectives

This module will compare literature identified with a number of ‘nations.’ It will explore the ideas of the nation that inhere in each of the primary texts via close analysis of the stories they tell, their narrative styles, the characters they depict, their genres, and their place in literary criticism. The module will develop comparative methodologies for gaining insight into the histories and theories of the nation, facilitating engagement with the work of key theorists of the nation, nationalism, and of ‘national’ literature.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the module students will have:

  • Acquired a sound grounding in key themes, issues, comparisons and debates in the literary representations of nationhood.
  • Acquired sophisticated interdisciplinary skills on how nations are represented, narrated, and ethnographically produced in different kinds of texts, cultural productions and artefacts.
  • Developed a critical awareness of the limits and problems of nationality in relation to other forms of belonging.
  • Developed an understanding of both the liberating and oppressive potential of nationhood.

Teaching pattern

One lecture and one seminar weekly

Suggested reading list

  • Rosa Luxemburg, "The Nation-State and the Proletariat", 1909.
  • Eric Hobsbawm and Terence Ranger, The Invention of Tradition, 1983.
  • Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism, 1983.
  • Edward W. Said, Culture and Imperialism, 1993
  • Partha Chatterjee, The Nation and Its Fragments, 1993
Module description disclaimer

King’s College London reviews the modules offered on a regular basis to provide up-to-date, innovative and relevant programmes of study. Therefore, modules offered may change. We suggest you keep an eye on the course finder on our website for updates.

Please note that modules with a practical component will be capped due to educational requirements, which may mean that we cannot guarantee a place to all students who elect to study this module.

Please note that the module descriptions above are related to the current academic year and are subject to change.