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Comparative Themes in the Novel


  • Credit value: 30 credits at Level 5
  • Convenor: Dr Damian Catani
  • Assessment: a 2000-word essay (50%) and 1500-word take-home test (50%)

Module description

In this module we explore developments in the novel through the twentieth and twenty-first centuries across five different language-speaking areas: French, German, Italian, Japanese and Spanish.

The module is organised around themes which have captured the imaginations of novelists across these very different cultural contexts. We will explore how these themes are developed differently both in relation to form and story in different language-speaking areas, allowing you to gain knowledge of the history of the novel and its relationship to broader political and social histories.

You will further develop skills in analysing written texts gained at Level 4, build on already acquired knowledge of the history and theory of the novel, and develop your skills in talking and writing about written texts.

The largest part of the module will focus on comparative study across language-speaking areas, but you will also be able to focus in-depth on the specific themes we have studied in relation to the novel in one language-speaking area in break-out groups.

Indicative syllabus

  • The novel and the nation
  • The novel, the self and society
  • The novel and crisis
  • Further exploration of themes in relation to the French/German/Italian/Japanese/Spanish novel (break-out groups)

Learning objectives

By the end of this module, you will be able to:

  • demonstrate in-depth knowledge of the history of the novel across French, German, Italian, Japanese and Spanish-speaking cultural contexts
  • understand key themes in the novel across these language-speaking areas
  • compare and contrast developments in the form and narrative of novels across different cultural contexts
  • understand specific developments in the novel in relation to the key themes in one language-speaking area
  • use advanced key skills to analyse written texts
  • understand key theoretical ideas in the study of the novel
  • demonstrate competence in written analysis and in academic discussion about the novel.