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7ABA0007 The World Novel

Credit value: 20 credits
Module convenor:  Dr Daniela Cerimonia
Assessment: 1 x 5,000 word essay
Teaching pattern: One two hour seminar weekly
Pre-requisites: None
Reassessment: Students are reassessed in the failed elements of assessment and by the same methods as the first attempt.

Module description

We will explore the genesis and origins of novels in different cultural and geographical contexts, and discuss how, although the genre’s foundations are in the Western tradition, it has been able to successfully transform itself and permeate other literary cultures. The emphasis of this course will be on considering how, from its beginnings in the Hellenistic Mediterranean to its establishment in 19th century Europe, the novel form has always flourished in a multilingual, cross-cultural traffic of ideas. We will question the extent to which the novel has again proved capable of reflecting rapidly-changing conditions of the global world, and of communicating to an even wider and more diverse readership across different cultures.

How the world novel reaches a compromise between global language and local material, and what tensions this gives rise to will be some of the central questions this course will address. We will discuss the relevance of concepts of dominant and subordinate positions in the cultural discourse, and seek to trace the influence of such imbalances in the patterns of conservation and subversion of the norm, both in the sphere of novel writing and consumption.

A range of 20th century authors will be read, including novelists of the early decades of the century like Natsume Soseki and Joseph Roth as well as contemporary writers like Orhan Pamuk and Gao Xingjian.

Core reading 

The following works are required primary texts which you should buy or borrow:

  • Machado de Assis, The Posthumous Memoirs of Bras Cubas (1881), (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006
  • Natsume Soseki, Kokoro (1914), (London: Penguin, 2010)
  • Joseph Roth, The Radetzky March (1932), (London: Penguin, 2000)
  • RK Narayan, The English Teacher (1945), (London: Vintage, 2001)
  • Mikhail Bulgakov, The Master and Margarita (1966-7), (London: Penguin, 2007)
  • Gao Xingjian, Soul Mountain (1990), (London: Harper Collins, 2001)
  • Elena Ferrante, My Brilliant Friend (2011), (New York: Europa Editions, 2012).

The modules run in each academic year are subject to change in line with staff availability and student demand so there is no guarantee every module will run. Module descriptions and information may vary depending between years.



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