Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Intended for use in future years

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Seminars / Tutorials 20 Hours. 10 x 2 hour seminar workshops


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Continuous Assessment: 2 x 2,500 word essays  100%
Semester Assessment Resubmit any failed elements and/or make good any missing elements.  Essay: 
Supplementary Assessment Resubmit any failed elements and/or make good any missing elements. Where this involves re-submission of work, a new topic must be selected. 

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this module students should typically be able to:

1. demonstrate a knowledge and understanding of a range of war poetry from the mid-nineteenth century to the mid-twentieth century;

2. demonstrate an awareness of how war poetry from different periods stands in relation to a 'tradition' of war writing;

3. demonstrate an awareness of the cultural and political factors which condition war poetry, together with an awareness of the wider cultural issues dramatised by war poetry;

4. demonstrate an awareness of how war writing changes in response to factors such as technology.


This module aims:

1. to introduce students to a range of war poetry from the mid-ninteenth to the mid-twentieth century, and to map the changes in form and content over this time;

2. to consider the extent to which the production and interpretation of war poetry is conditioned by cultural, social and political factors;

3. to evaluate the importance of gender and the direct experience of fighting in war writing.

Brief description

This module examines a range of poetic responses to conflict, from the Crimean War (1853-56) to the Second World War (1939-45). Which poets, and which wars, have conditioned our view of what constitutes 'authentic' war writing? The module will interrogate the rich variety and complexity of war poetry, and the time span of the option is intentionally long so that the effect of the technologies of war - how war itself changes - can be evaluated in a literary context. Through comparisons of texts from different periods, students will be able to gauge the extent to which production and interpretation of war poetry is conditioned by cultural, social and political factors. Issues to be considered include: war poetry as propaganda; war poetry and literary movements/genres (Modernism/pastoral); the representation of gender and identity in war writing; war writing and religion; war poetry and empire; war poetry and popular culture; the 'touristic' aspect of war writing; and civilian versus combatant representations of war.


_Seminar Programme

_1. Introduction
What do we expect from war poetry? What is its role, and what are its predominant themes? Is 'war poetry' a useful category as a way of approaching poetry written in or about war time? What literary conventions - of heroes at the front and of women who wait at home - accrue to war poetry, and how are these accepted or inflected as war changes?

_2. The Crimean War 1853-56
The focus here will be Tennyson's 'Charge of the Light Brigade' (1854) and its relationship to the newspaper reports of the same event. This seminar will also involve discussion of Tennyson's Maud and its relation to the Crimean War.

_3. Jingoism and Patriotism
This session will focus on the poetry of Rudyard Kipling and on the Boer War (1899-1902). Selected poems from the following volumes will be under discussion: Barrack-Room Ballads and Other Verses (1892); The Seven Seas (1896); The Five Nations (1903).

_4. Dark Pastorals
A.E. Housman's A Shropshire Lad (1896) and his Last Poems (1922), together with the 'War Poems' section of Thomas Hardy's Poems of the Past and the Present (1901).

_5. First World War (i)
With the Penguin Book of First World War Poetry as our basic text, the subject of this session will be the First World War poets: Brooke, Grenfell, McCrae, Seeger, Sorley, Thomas, Blunden, Gurney and Graves. Use will also be made of selected prose works relating to the Great War.

_6. First World War (ii)
The First World War poetry of Sassoon, Rickword, Read, Owen and Rosenberg. Selected prose works will also be used.

_7. First World War (iii)
David Jones's modernist epic of the Great War, In Parenthesis, together with First World War poetry written by women.

_8. 'If you tolerate this, your children will be next'
The poetry of the Spanish Civil War (1936-39)

_9. Second World War (i)
The poetry of Keith Douglas, Alun Lewis, Roy Fuller and others, together with selections from the prose writings of Douglas, Robert Graves and Herbert Read.

_10. Second World War (ii)
'Civilian' poetry of the Second World War: Dylan Thomas, together with Edith Sitwell, Lois Clark and other women writers.


This module is at CQFW Level 6