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ENGL2051 Objects of Desire

Module Overview

What is an object? Accounts of modernist literature often emphasise its interest in selfhood and the interior world, but the early twentieth century saw an anxious reconsideration of objects, and the ways they might be captured, contained, organised, or purchased. Modernism worries about litter (T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land), and wonders what to do with family keepsakes (Virginia Woolf’s Jacob’s Room). Its characters are always misplacing things, from umbrellas (E.M. Forster’s Howards End) to house keys (James Joyce’s Ulysses). Wallace Stevens and Marianne Moore write a poetry of things, memorialising snails, jam jars and ice creams, yet they also explore whether a poem can be an object, and whether a poet, too, might turn from observer into observed. This module will explore modernist writing through the objects it describes.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

• explore the dynamism and energy of modernist culture • navigate complex literary forms and techniques • consider the relationship between literary and critical trends • interrogate the status of objects, from potatoes to gramophones

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • appreciate, understand, and critically analyse modernist literature
  • make effective links between literary, critical and conceptual developments during the period
  • develop an informed and reflective understanding of the role of the object modern culture
  • consider critically how literary periods are shaped, defined, and remembered
  • improve your essay-writing skills

Syllabus

This module will introduce you to some of most important literary works and movements of the twentieth-century and enrich your appreciation of related trends in literary criticism and theory. It will also expand the ways you think about the external world and the objects around you, sharpening your skills as both a literary critic and curator. In your first essay you will ‘curate’ one object as it is presented in a literary text of your choice and choose from a range of assessment questions for your second essay. The final exam will consist of one commentary passage and an essay.

Special Features

This module’s focus on objects and the way they are presented will develop the student’s curatorial eye, and would be useful preparation for a career in the museums and heritage industry. The use of presentations and group tasks in the seminar sessions enhances student employability, helping them develop their collaborative skills and their ability to present their ideas cogently and coherently to an audience.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include • 1 x seminar discussion per week • 1 lecture per week • guidance and feedback sessions on assignments • essay consultations Learning activities include • private study • discussion with colleagues and tutor • presentations • accessing and evaluating appropriate online resources • essay-writing

TypeHours
Seminar24
Preparation for scheduled sessions40
Follow-up work32
Lecture24
Wider reading or practice100
Completion of assessment task80
Total study time300

Resources & Reading list

Armstrong, Tim (1998). Modernism, Technology and the Body. 

Harry Blamires (1996). The New Bloomsday Book. 

Mao, Douglas (1998). Solid Objects: Modernism and the Test of Production. 

Forster, E.M. (1997). Howards End. 

Woolf, Virginia (2012). Jacob’s Room ed. Suzanne Riatt. 

eds. Gregory, Rosalyn and Kolhman, Benjamin (2011). Utopian Spaces of Modernism: Literature and Culture, 1885- 1945. 

Peter Gay (2009). Modernism: The Lure of Heresy. 

ed. Peter Jones (2005). The Penguin Book of Imagist Poetry. 

Siraganian, Lisa (2012). Modernism’s Other Work: The Art Object’s Political Life. 

Stevens, Wallace (2011). Harmonium. 

Eliot, T.S. (2004). The Waste Land ed. Michael North. 

Trotter, David (2003). Cooking With Mud: The Idea of Mess in Nineteenth-Century Culture and Fiction. 

Joyce, James (1998). Ulysses ed. Jeri Johnson. 

Assessment

Summative

MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (3000 words) 60%
Examination  (2 hours) 40%

Referral

MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (3000 words) 60%
Examination  (2 hours) 40%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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