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2023/24 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

MODL3410 Contemporary World Literature

20 creditsClass Size: 40

Module manager: Dr Sarah Hudspith

Taught: Semesters 1 & 2 (Sep to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2023/24

This module is approved as a discovery module

Module summary

This year-long module will enable students to analyse contemporary international works of literature in English translation, with a focus on authors who have gained critical and/or commercial success in recent years. It will explore the theories underlying the concept of 'world literature' and discuss why certain texts enter today’s global field, with references to publishing, reception and literary prizes. These discussions will reflect diverse contemporary interests in themes including culture, families and communities, gender and sexuality, globalisation, philosophy, politics, posthumanism, religion and spirituality, and science and technology. The module will also consider concepts such as exoticism, 'highbrow' vs popular culture, mimesis, Orientalism and postcolonialism. Students will explore these questions through the study of a representative corpus composed normally of 3 texts per semester. The module will be taught entirely through weekly seminars: student presentations (unassessed) will be supplemented by material and guidance on reading from the tutors. The texts will be taught by comparative literature specialists embracing different language areas in LCS and beyond. Authors studied will vary from year to year, depending on teaching staff; examples might be Elena Ferrante, Michel Houellebecq, Yu Hua, Karl Ove Knausgaard, Han Kang, Haruki Murakami, Corín Tellado and Viktor Pelevin.


To develop students’ ability to analyse, evaluate and interpret literary texts in English translation from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds.

To enhance students' knowledge and critical appreciation of how the international literary market and publishing industry works.

To develop students' original critical ability; in most cases students will be working with texts where secondary literature consist of reviews and interviews rather than established bibliographies, which will necessitate greater autonomy.

To give students an insight into how contemporary literature reflects and constructs questions of identity, drawing on a number of cognate disciplines (e.g. gender studies, philosophy, politics, religion and spirituality).

Learning outcomes
On completion of this module, students should be able to:

1. understand and employ a range of the key concepts used in the production, practice and study of literature.
2. adopt different approaches to literature based on an understanding of a number of methodologies.
3. demonstrate an ability to understand the practicalities of the contemporary global literary field.
4. demonstrate intercultural awareness of the cultural backgrounds of different literary texts, writers and readers.
5. research, present and discuss specific questions in seminar discussions.
6. discuss critically a variety of texts and make original contrasts and comparisons between them in written assignments.

Skills outcomes
Intercultural Skills
Research Skills
Analytical Skills
Employability Skills


Semester 1
Introduction: the global literary field and world literature (1 week)
Text 1 (3 weeks)
Text 2 (3 weeks)
Text 3 (3 weeks)
Semester 2
Text 4 (3 weeks)
Text 5 (3 weeks)
Text 6 (3 weeks)

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours180.00
Total Contact hours20.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Students are expected to:
1. Carry out the assigned weekly reading of primary texts and secondary materials.
2. Prepare the weekly seminars as directed by module tutors.
3. Work regularly on their reflective journal.
4. Conduct research for their final essay.
5. Discuss plans for their essay with the module tutor.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Formative feedback will be provided on an ongoing basis, both individually and collectively in seminars. Formative feedback will also be given by semester 1 week 7 reading week on a reflective log entry to ensure student progress with this task.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay3,000 words60.00
Reflective logMinimum 6 x 400 word entries, minimum coverage of 5 set texts, of which 2 selected at random will be marked.40.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Resit for reflective log: 1 x 2,400 word essay The essay will be framed as a reflective exercise, commenting on the experience of reading the set texts and insights gained from class discussion and secondary reading, so that it assesses the same learning outcomes as the original assessment.

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 28/04/2023 14:42:36


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