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2022/23 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

ENGL3410 Modernist Sexualities

20 creditsClass Size: 20

School of English

Module manager: Dr Katy Mullin

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2022/23

Pre-requisite qualifications

Please note: this module is restricted to Level 3 students on BA programmes with English and visiting students.

This module is not approved as a discovery module


On completion of this module, students should be able to:
- have a clear understanding of the competing discourses shaping sexual identities and behaviour during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries;
- perceive the many and various ways in which contemporary writers responded to such discourses, ranging from mimicry to pastiche.

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.


The rise of modernism coincided with the emergence of a new and post-Victorian willingness to break a perceived “conspiracy of silence” over sex. From birth control crusaders to “free love” enthusiasts, from psychoanalysts to “sexologists”, from suffragettes to “social purists” eager to raise the moral tone of the nation, the modernist period abounded with competing and contradictory theories of sexuality. This module investigates the many different ways a host of writers responded to and participated in these debates. Some, like H G Wells, Radclyffe Hall and D H Lawrence, were spurred to write polemical pleas for understanding. Others, like Bram Stoker and Theodore Dreiser, wove the material of mass moral anxiety into their fiction. Still others, such as Oscar Wilde, Henry James, and James Joyce, produced more complex texts which spoke of sexuality in elaborate code, or even pastiched the earnestness with which the subject was pondered. We will explore the intimate dialogue between modernism and contemporary theories of sexuality by reading selected literary texts in parallel with extracts from key writings on sexuality. This course will both reveal the many different ways sexual identity was constructed, and scrutinise the tension between literary and quasi-scientific writing on a subject traditionally taboo.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours189.00
Total Contact hours11.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

- Teaching will be through 10 x 1 hour weekly seminars, plus 1 x 1 hour introductory lecture.

Private Study: Reading, preparation for seminars, essay writing.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

- Seminar contribution.
- Unassessed essay of 1700 words (submitted during Week 7). 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).

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay4000 words (including quotations and footnotes)100.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

One unassessed essay of 1700 words is also required (submitted during Week 7). 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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