Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Postmodern Genres
Academic Year
Semester 2

Course Delivery



Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Oral Presentation  A 20-minute individual orally presented research paper, to be delivered in week 7. Accompanying documentation to include an annotated bibliography, any presentation materials used and an electronic copy of the PowerPoint presentation.  40%
Semester Assessment Essay  6000 words  60%
Supplementary Assessment Supplementary  Resubmit failed or make good any missing elements. In the event of failure in the oral presentation element, a 20-minute written script on a new topic to be submitted, written as if for delivery, to include an annotated bibliography, any presentation materials used and an electronic copy of the PowerPoint presentation  100%

Brief description

This module studies postmodernism in terms of its literary genres, and the theories that go into their construction. Bridging between poetry, prose, and critical works, we will study the ways in which postmodern authors use different rhetorical and structural tactics to experiment with forms and genres. Offering a broad chronological sweep of postmodern literature, from the 1970s to the present day, and studying both its British and American incarnations, we will examine the ways in which postmodern literature developed over time, alongside its central conceptual concerns with space, alterity, histories, and bodies.


This module tracks the development of postmodernism in both poetry and prose, and provides students with a conceptual frame through which to understand postmodern literature. It explores postmodern literature through the close study of selected texts and critical essays, and thereby links together the difficult theoretical and conceptual concerns of postmodernism with actual literary production.


Week One: Postmodern Writing
This session introduces the concept of a 'postmodern? writing in relation to both poetry and prose. We will discuss essays by Charles Olson and Frank O'rara in the first half of the session, and then move on to study extracts from John Barth's Lost in the Funhouse and his seminal essay 'The Literature of Exhaustion'.

Week Two: Gender & Genre
Text: John Fowles, The French Lieutenant's Woman (1969)

Week Three:
Text: Charles Bernstein, All the Whiskey in Heaven: Selected Poems

Week Four: History & Memory
Text: Joanna Russ, The Femal Man (1975)

Week Five:
Text: Lyn Hejinian, My Life

Week Six: Language & Performance
Text: Iain Banks, The Bridge (1986)

Week Seven:
Text: Denise Riley, Selected Poems

Week Eight: Space & Media
Text: Mark Z. Danielewski, House of Leaves (2000)

Week Nine:
Text: Barry McSweeney, Wolf Tongue: Poems 1975 - 2000

Week Ten: Postmodern Conclusions
This session explores the chronological development of postmodernism from its earliest incarnations in formal literary experimentation to its currently developments. We will study essays by Nicholas Zurbrugg, Stuart Sim, and Timothy Murphy in order to discuss 'what comes after postmodernism'.


This module is at CQFW Level 7