Why did Ezra Pound think it essential to ‘make it new’, or Rimbaud to be ‘absolument moderne’? Why did Virginia Woolf insist, in her essay ‘Modern Fiction’, that ‘the proper stuff of fiction’ should be ‘other than custom would have us believe it’?
This taught Masters programme seeks to answer these questions, considering the ways literature since 1900 has sought to change and ‘modernise’ itself, in the context of - often in reaction to - wider developments of modernity characterising the age.
The programme explores in this way a range of historical, intellectual, cultural, political and philosophical factors informing the period’s writing - particularly in its highly innovative modernist and postmodernist phases - and analyses in general the responses of literary imagination, as well as theory and criticism, to the expanding pressures of the modern.
Scrutiny of tensions between tradition and innovation, private and public vision, domestic and international influence, new or established philosophy and ideas, shape and direct study of some of the most exciting and challenging literary texts ever written.
This unique programme reflects the latest developments in the historical and contextual study of literature, inviting students to analyse the manifold interconnections of textual forms, themes, strategies and styles with factors more widely shaping contemporary life and imagination.
Students extend this core study of modernist and postmodernist literature by constructing their own individual curricula from a range of option courses which offer detailed study of specific areas of writing since 1900.
The Department of English Literature in the University of Edinburgh is officially designated as one of the best three in the United Kingdom. The MSc in Literature and Modernity draws upon the expertise of several of its members.
Professor Randall Stevenson, whose work focuses on the literary history of the 20th century, in Scotland and England, with particular emphasis on its early modernist years.
Dr Olga Taxidou, an expert on modernist literature and in particular on theatre and performance, and on issues of gender and the aesthetics of the avant-garde.
Dr Alex Thomson, whose work focuses on modern Scottish Literature and on 20th century French thought and the work of the Frankfurt School.
Dr Aaron Kelly, whose interests include contemporary Irish and British culture, postcolonial and Marxist theory, popular cultural forms and working-class writing.
Dr Lee Spinks, who has written books on Nietzsche, Joyce and Michael Ondaatje, and whose interests also include modern and contemporary poetry, theory and the literature of the United States.
Dr Michelle Keown, who specialises in Postcolonial literature and theory, particularly that of the Pacific region. She has published widely on Maori and Pacific writing.
Dr David Farrier, whose interests include 19th century and early 20th century Pacific travel writing, and representations of asylum seekers and refugees in contemporary literature, visual art and film.
This article was published on Jun 2, 2011