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The Novel: Writing the Modern World


  • Credit value: 30 credits at Level 5
  • Convenor: Dr Grace Halden
  • Assessment: a 1000-word essay (10%), 1500-word essay (45%) and 48-hour take-home examination (45%)

Module description

In this module we explore the development of the novel as an international form, looking at examples from the eighteenth to the twenty-first centuries. We will follow a loose chronology, charting the emergence of realism, modernism and postmodernism, as well as exploring the significance of postcolonialism and transnationalism for the novel:

  • Apha Behn, Oronooko (1688)
  • Laurence Sterne, The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman (1759)
  • Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe (1719)
  • George Eliot, Middlemarch (1871-72)
  • Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse (1927)
  • Thomas Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49 (1966)
  • Salman Rushdie, Midnight's Children (1981)
  • Caryl Phillips, Crossing the River (1993)
  • Marjane Satrapi, Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood and the Story of a Return (2003)

Learning objectives

By the end of this module, you will:

    • be familiar with a range of novels of different kinds and periods
    • understand and be able to engage with some of the critical and theoretical discussions around the definition of the novel
    • understand critical contexts related to the novel's development, such as realism, modernism, postmodernism and postcolonialism.