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2022/23 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

ENGL3321 Angry Young Men and Women: Literature of the Mid-Twentieth Century

20 creditsClass Size: 30

School of English

Module manager: Dr Tracy Hargreaves

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View Timetable

Year running 2022/23

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

The post-war years witnessed profound changes in Britain’s cultural landscape, from the foundation of the ‘cradle-to-grave’ Welfare State to the re-thinking of British national identity, from the emergence of a newly affluent consumer society to a visible pre-occupation with sexuality and sexual politics. This module engages with mid-C20th literature and explores the ways in which a new and diverse generation of writers came to represent the consequential changes that re-shaped Britain between the late 1940s to the early 1960s. As George Orwell was completing Nineteen Eighty-Four in 1948, the Empire Windrush arrived at Tilbury Docks, the British Nationality Act was passed, extending British citizenship to all members of the Commonwealth, the National Health Service was founded. How did a new generation of writers respond to such rapid and consequential shifts, how did such changes shape literary imaginations? From Orwell’s celebrated examination of totalitarianism, technology and the individual to Muriel Spark’s infamous Jean Brodie, texts on the module examine a prevalent sense of feeling (and being) under surveillance. They satirise the complacent narratives of a class-bound ‘Merrie England’ and they look at the fate of the post-war European refugee. They explore the stagnant and emergent state of feminist politics and describe newly establishing West Indian migrant communities; they guide us through the arrival of teenage sub-cultures, and they announce the appearance of the iconic ‘angry young man’ with his narrative of working-class mobility and assault upon the Establishment. The module engages with the diversity of narrative voices and writers’ varied responses to their evolving literary and historical moment. Topics for discussion are likely to include working-class identities, youth culture, popular and mass culture, race, sexuality, the shaping of gendered identity, the everyday, language and voice. There will be opportunities to watch film adaptations of some of these texts as they became part of the ‘New Wave’ of 1960s British Cinema.


- To gain a critical and contextual (historical, political, cultural) understanding of a range of mid-century texts (including fiction, poetry, drama and film).
- To gain an understanding of the development of and experiments in literary form, and
- To explore the relationship of writers and their work to their social environment.

Learning outcomes
Students will have developed:
- the ability to use written and oral communication effectively;
- the capacity to analyse and critically examine diverse forms of discourse;
- the ability to manage quantities of complex information in a structured and systematic way;
- the capacity for independent thought and judgement;
- critical reasoning;
- research skills, including the retrieval of information, the organisation of material and the evaluation of its importance;
- IT skills;
- efficient time management and organisation skills;
- the ability to learn independently.

Skills outcomes
- Skills for effective communication, oral and written.
- Capacity to analyse and critically examine diverse forms of discourse.
- Ability to acquire quantities of complex information of diverse kinds in a structured and systematic way.
- Capacity for independent thought and judgement.
- Critical reasoning.
- Research skills, including information retrieval skills, the organisation of material, and the evaluation of its importance.
- IT skills.
- Time management and organisational skills.
- Independent learning.


This module engages with literature of the mid-twentieth century and engages with diverse ways in which an identifiably new generation of writers came to represent, reflect and to influence cultural change between the late 1940s to the late 1960s.

Topics for discussion will include representations of the family and state, the working-class, youth, memory, nostalgia, novelty, alienation and literary form and the use of language.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours185.00
Total Contact hours15.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Reading, seminar preparation and essay writing.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

- Contribution to seminars
- 1 x 1,700 word unassessed essay.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay4,000 words100.00
Essay500 word formative plan0.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

An essay plan of 500 words is required and this will be returned individually. This does not form part of the assessment for this module, but is a requirement and MUST be submitted. Students who fail to submit the unassessed essay will be awarded a maximum mark of 40 for the module (a bare Pass)

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 29/04/2022 15:24:14


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