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ENGL2102 Modernist Fervour, Modernist Form

Module Overview

Modernism responded to the advent of modernity: to urbanisation, mechanisation, consumer capitalism and two World Wars. It reacted to, reflected and even extended twentieth-century advances in the understanding of time and space, consciousness, language, desire and perception. In this era of immense change, writers and artists demanded a revolution in culture. Radical ideas and aesthetics were transmitted back and forth between Britain, Europe and America. Modernist writing broke with inherited conventions of genre, narrative, originality, realism and authorship; established rules of grammar, syntax and typography were overturned. New literary techniques developed in correspondence with innovations across the arts. This module will explore key ideas and formal strategies in modernist literature.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

• explore the dynamism and energy of modernist culture • navigate complex literary forms and techniques • consider the relationship between radical ideas and innovative aesthetics • relate literary techniques to developments in other art forms • improve your close-reading skills • improve your essay-writing skills

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, social, cultural and historical developments during the period
  • develop an informed and reflective understanding of key features of modernism and modernity
  • improve your close-reading skills
  • improve your essay-writing skills


This module will introduce you to some of the most important texts and movements of the twentieth century. It will expand your awareness of how literary techniques relate to formal experiments across the arts. Reading prose, poetry, manifestos, essays, stories and magazines, you will gain an understanding of how radical ideas relate to innovative aesthetics.

Special Features

This module’s focus on understanding how modernist literature fits within its international cultural context would be useful preparation for a career in the arts. Students will be invited to take opportunities to engage with pertinent visual art beyond the module.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include • lectures • seminars • demonstrations of close-reading techniques • guidance and feedback sessions on assignments • exam revision session • essay consultations Learning activities include • private study • seminar discussion with colleagues and tutor • exploring digital archives • close-reading exercises • exam performance • accessing and evaluating appropriate online resources • essay-writing This module includes a Learning Support Hour. This is a flexible weekly contact hour, designed to support and respond to the particular cohort taking the module from year to year. This hour will include (but not be limited to) activities such as language, theory and research skills classes; group work supervisions; assignment preparation and essay writing guidance; assignment consultations; feedback and feed-forward sessions.

Preparation for scheduled sessions40
Wider reading or practice92
Completion of assessment task80
Follow-up work28
Total study time300

Resources & Reading list

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

Michael Levenson (1999). The Cambridge Companion to Modernism. 

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

Marshall Berman (1982). All That Is Solid Melts into Air: The Experience of Modernity. 

Peter Nicholls (1991). Modernisms: A Literary Guide. 

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

David Bradshaw and Kevin Detmar (2006). A Companion to Modernist Literature and Culture. 



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


MethodPercentage contribution
Final essay  (4000 words) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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