English R1B

Reading and Composition: "Those Other Times Are Running Elsewhere": Contemporary British Fictions

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
8 Spring 2016 Fleishman, Kathryn
MWF 2-3 225 Wheeler

Book List

Byatt, A.S.: Possession; McEwan, Ian: Atonement; Mitchell, David: Cloud Atlas; Smith, Zadie: NW


This course explores the investment of contemporary British culture in multiple, imaginative, and alternative concepts of time, from historical novels to speculative fictions, from London’s punk rock scene to its dubstep moment, from live comedy shows to TV serials, and from architectural constructions to art installations.

We will begin with a primer on British modernism, using visual culture (such as paintings and subway maps) and readings from T.S. Eliot, James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, and Graham Greene to illustrate how certain formative modernist concepts of history and memory persist in British art today. Though our focus will remain on the novel, we will integrate studies in history, poetry, criticism, art, music, and television, placing particular emphasis on the way that post-imperialism, immigration, and urban development have contributed to the richness of temporal and narrative experimentation in contemporary British culture. Readings will center around questions of history, futurity, and multiplicity, including novels by A.S. Byatt, Ian McEwan, David Mitchell, and Zadie Smith, the poetry of Sylvia Plath and Seamus Heaney, the comedy of Steve Coogan and Jennifer Saunders, cultural criticism by James Wood and J. M. Coetzee, and episodes of The Hour and Downton Abbey

In R1B, students build on the techniques of both reading & rhetoric introduced in R1A. As such, we will engage a variety of texts across genres (novels, nonfiction, poetry, film, television, & criticism). We will also practice responding to such texts variously, writing and rewriting an analytical paper, a film review, and a research essay on a related topic of your choice over the course of the term. 


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