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The University of Southampton

ENGL2104 Modernisms

Module Overview

What does it mean to make literature new? Why create a revolution of the word? In this module you will study the revolutionary literary transformations of modernism. Modernism responded to the advent of modernity: urbanisation, imperialism, mechanisation, consumer capitalism and two World Wars. It did so on a global scale, producing modernisms all around the world. Through radical formal experimentation, writers extended twentieth-century advances in the understanding of time and space, consciousness, language, desire and perception. Modernists broke with inherited conventions of genre, narrative, originality, realism and authorship. In modernist writing, established rules of grammar, syntax and typography were overturned. This module will explore the formal strategies of modernist literature as a global phenomenon, and the revolutionary ideas it aimed to express.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • develop an understanding of formal innovation in 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
  • develop awareness of how modernist formal innovations reflected changes in modern culture, technology and society
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • improve your close-reading skills
  • improve your essay-writing skills
  • textual analysis
  • appreciate, understand, and critically analyse modernist literature
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • written expression


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. The syllabus may vary from year to year but indicative authors might include: Virginia Woolf, James Joyce, Mina Loy, Hope Mirrlees, T.S. Eliot, Jean Toomer, Rebecca West, Ezra Pound.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods will include: • lectures • seminars • demonstrations of close-reading techniques • guidance and feedback sessions on assignments • exam revision session • essay consultations Learning methods will include: • independent 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.

Wider reading or practice30
Preparation for scheduled sessions80
Follow-up work40
Completion of assessment task100
Total study time300

Resources & Reading list

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

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

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

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



MethodPercentage contribution
Research essay  (3500 words) 60%
Research essay  (2500 words) 40%


MethodPercentage contribution
Final essay  (4000 words) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External


Costs associated with this module

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In addition to this, students registered for this module typically also have to pay for:

Books and Stationery equipment

Cost of books associated with essential reading for this module will typically not exceed £50.

Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

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