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Semester 1

Modernism and Empire (ENLI10338)

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English Literature





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Visiting students must have completed 4 English Literature courses at grade B or above. We will only consider University/College level courses, and we do not consider civilisation & other interdisciplinary courses, freshman seminars, writing/composition courses or film/cinema/media courses; visiting students who have taken multiple courses in literature in other languages, should have passed at least one course in English Literature as well. Applicants should note that, as with other popular courses, meeting the minimum does NOT guarantee admission, and priority will be given to students studying on exchange within English Literature. **This is an *Option* course. Please note that students can only enrol in one Core and/or one Option 3rd year English Literature course per semester, with no exception. Students enrolled in this course therefore cannot enrol in any further Option courses during this semester** Please note that 3rd year English Literature courses are high-demand, meaning that they have a very high number of students wishing to enrol in a very limited number of spaces. Visiting students are advised to bear in mind that enrolment in specific courses can never be guaranteed, and you may need to be flexible in finding alternatives in case your preferred courses have no available space. These enrolments are managed strictly by the Visiting Student Office, in line with the quotas allocated by the department, and all enquiries to enrol in these courses must be made through the CAHSS Visiting Student Office. It is not appropriate for students to contact the department directly to request additional spaces.

Course Summary

This course explores the relationship between European imperialism and literary modernism, focusing primarily on British colonial contexts and legacies (in South Asia, Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific), but also engaging with other European empires (such as the French Caribbean and the Belgian Congo). We will analyse a range of texts published from the 1890s through to 1960, exploring the centrality of empire to various phases of literary modernism. Both late colonialism and modernism share many of the same structuring discourses, such as concerns over the decline and decay of Western civilization, and a preoccupation with finding new ways of defining human subjectivity and alterity (in the wake of the collapse of enlightenment humanism, and the rise of psychoanalytical and social Darwinist paradigms).

Course Description

We will explore the relationship between anxieties about the imperialist project, and certain stylistic and thematic innovations in modernist literature, including: (i) the preoccupation with Western degeneration (which is interpreted by some modernist writers as a consequence of inter-racial contact and miscegenation, while others hold that Western culture can be revitalised by outside cultural and artistic influences); (ii) a preoccupation with multiple subjectivities and limited/unreliable narrators; (iii) experiments with symbolism and imagism as alternatives to Victorian realism and positivism. We will question the degree to which modernism was complicit with, or opposed to, imperialism, exploring texts produced by British authors (such as George Orwell, Leonard Woolf and Joyce Cary) who participated in the administration of British imperial territories, as well as the work of writers more peripheral to the workings of empire (such as Joseph Conrad, and women writers such as Jean Rhys and Katherine Mansfield). We will also consider how modernism was taken up by writers (such as Mulk Raj Anand and Aime Ce saire) situated at the colonial margins , investigating cross-cultural friendships and alliances (such as those between E.M. Forster and Mulk Raj Anand), as well as counter-discursive interventions by postcolonial writers such as Chinua Achebe, whose novel No Longer at Ease (1960) serves as a riposte to Cary s Mister Johnson (1939).

Assessment Information

Written Exam 0%, Coursework 100%, Practical Exam 0%

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