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level5

5AAEB036 First World War Literature

Credit value: 15
Module convenor: Dr Charlotte Jones
Assessment: 1 x 3,500 word essay (100%)
Teaching pattern: 1 hour seminar & 1 hour lecture weekly
Pre-requisites: None

Module description:

One hundred years on, what do we mean by 'First World War literature'? What continues to draw us to writing from this conflict? What do we gain by placing these works in their socio-cultural, historical and archival contexts? How might we understand ‘war writing’ as a literary category, and what relationship does it bear to other early-twentieth-century artistic movements such as modernism? 

This module will introduce you to a variety of First World War writing, taken from across genres and written by both combatants and non-combatants, men and women. We will read these texts with a historicised awareness, focusing closely on the writing itself, but we will also engage with theorists from the period and beyond (including the works of psychologists such as Sigmund Freud and W.H.R. Rivers), in order to examine some of the aesthetic and psychological challenges involved in representing war experience, as well as to explore issues such as gender, sexuality, race, memory, shell shock and the body in pain.  

Alongside British war literature, we will examine writing from Europe and other parts of the world, including East Africa, South Asia, and the West Indies. Writers we will look at range from Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon and Isaac Rosenberg, through to Virginia Woolf, Mary Borden and D. H. Lawrence, to a host of international writers, such as Mulk Raj Anand, Henri Barbusse, Claire Goll, and Kamila Shamsie.  

This module could combine well with Mapping Modernism, Moments of Culture, The Colonial Novel, Fin de Siècle and/or Shocks of the New. 

 

Core reading:

Core reading (to be purchased, borrowed or downloaded as ebooks): 

  • Mary Borden, The Forbidden Zone (Hesperus Press, 2006)  

  • Ford Madox Ford, No More Parades, ed. Joseph Wiesenfarth (Carcanet, 2011) 

  • Robert Graves, Goodbye to All That (most editions are fine) 

  • Tim Kendall (ed.), Poetry of the First World War: An Anthology (Oxford University Press, 2014) 

  • Andrea Levy, Uriah’s War (short e-book, 2014): http://www.andrealevy.co.uk/books/uriahs-war/  

  • Virginia Woolf, Mrs Dalloway, ed. Stella McNichol (Penguin, 2000) 

 

Core reading (provided electronically via KEATS): 

  • Prose extracts and short fiction by Henri Barbusse, Claire Goll, Vera Brittain, H.G. Wells, Wyndham Lewis, Mary Butts, Rudyard Kipling, D.H. Lawrence, Katherine Mansfield, Mulk Raj Anand, Kamila Shamsie, A.E. Horner, Andrea Levy, Rabindranath Tagore. 

  • Poetry by Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon, Isaac Rosenberg, Ivor Gurney, Edward Thomas, Margaret Postgate Cole, Sarojini Naidu. 

 

Module aims and Learning outcomes:

By the end of the module, students will: 

  • Develop a nuanced understanding of war writing across different genres by both men and women, combatants and non-combatants, from Europe and beyond, through a combination of close reading, historical scholarship and critical theory. 

  • Deepen our understanding of concepts such as the body, gender and sexuality, trauma, and memory, and explore some of the psychological and aesthetic difficulties in representing war. 

  • Embed the experience and the writing of this war in a more global and multiracial framework, while being alert to structures and asymmetries of power. 

  • Bring questions of modernism, life-writing and post-colonial aesthetics into an understanding of war literature.  

  • Consider why writers might have chosen particular literary and generic forms for representing the war, and to think about what these forms enable or inhibit; develop an ability to critique these forms, using a variety of different methodologies and theoretical perspectives. 

  • Develop the critical skills to independently interpret ‘literary’ texts in a comparative manner, alongside non-literary texts, visual artworks and material artefacts. 

  • Develop an awareness of the power of war to generate different myths at different times, and attend to the ways in which literature contributes to this process. 

 

By the end of the module, students will be able to demonstrate intellectual, transferable and practicable skills appropriate to a Level 5 module, and in particular will be able to:  

  1. Analyse and critically evaluate texts from a range of different genres written in response to the First World War. 

  1. Demonstrate awareness and understanding of the political, intellectual and social contexts of the period.  

  1. Analyse and critically evaluate a range of theoretical work that have been used to discuss First World War writing. 

  1. Demonstrate knowledge of the changing nature of First World War studies. 

  1. Communicate reading and research effectively, through seminar discussion and written work. 

  1. Produce a written assignment using an appropriate range of research materials, with a focus on honing scholarly writing, argumentation and depth of analytical thinking.

Module Description 2017-18

Credit value: 15
Module convenor: Dr Santanu Das
Assessment: 1 x 3500 word essay (100%)
Teaching pattern: 1 hour seminar & 1 hour lecture weekly
Pre-requisites: None

Module description:

The module introduces students to a variety of First World War writing across genres and written by both combatants and non-combatants, men and women.  A historicised awareness, it is hoped, will help us appreciate the formal qualities of these writings as well as explore issues such as gender, sexuality, memory, shell shock and the body in pain.  We will also engage with theorists from the period and beyond – from Freud to Sartre and Kristeva – and examine some of the aesthetic and psychological challenges involved in representing war experience.  The primary emphasis will be on British authors, but attention will also be paid to the European context.  While the emphasis will be on close-readings of primary texts, students are encouraged to engage with more recent literary and cultural-historical scholarship, and to consider what it means to be studying the literature of this period in the centenary year of the start of the war.

Core reading:

For this course, you are advised to buy the course-pack and The Penguin Book of First World War Poetry ed. Jon Silkin (Penguin, 1996): this is currently out of print but is available second-hand.  If you cannot get Silkin’s edition, you can buy The Winter of the World ed. Hibberd and Onions or The Penguin Book of First World War Poetry ed. George Walter (Penguin, 2006).  You are also expected to be familiar with the following texts and have them in class:

  • Brittain, Vera, Testament of Youth (most editions are fine)
  • Borden, Mary, The Forbidden Zone (Hesperus Press, 2006) (optional buy; main stories will be extracted in the course-book)
  • Graves, Robert, Goodbye to All That (most editions are fine)
  • Woolf, Virginia, Mrs Dalloway ed. Stella McNichol (Penguin, 2000) (other editions should also be fine)
  • Barker, Pat, Regeneration (Penguin, 1991)

Module aims and Learning outcomes:

A survey of major poetry, fiction, and autobiography written about the First World War. The primary emphasis will be on British authors, but with some attention to the European context.

By the end of the module, students will gain:

  1. Knowledge of a range of key First World War texts by men and women in three different genres.
  2. Knowledge of the historical and social circumstances, and also of contemporary debates about gender, class, and psychology, and how the war transformed them.
  3. An understanding of the hostilities between combatants and non - combatants, and how this affected writers' senses of their readerships.
  4. An awareness of the power of the war to generate different myths at different times.

 

 

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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