Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Semester 2
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Seminars / Tutorials 20 Hours. Seminar. (10 x 2 hr seminar workshops)


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment 2 x 3000 word essays  Continuous Assessment:  100%
Supplementary Assessment Resubmit or resit failed elements and/or make good any missing elements 

Learning Outcomes

At the end of the module, students will be able to:

1. describe and appraise the main theories of and debates within postmodernism;

2. relate theories and practices of postmodernism to set texts;

3. describe the broad effects of postmodern devices on literary and cultural forms;

4. apply examples from the arguments of principal exponents of postmodern theory;

5. comment critically on the material chosen for study;

6. engage in coherent oral discussion of the texts and background material;

7. write about the subject in a well-structured and argued manner.

Brief description

Currently a buzz word, everything appears to be 'postmodern': the clothes you wear, the houses in which we live and the culture with which we engage. This option will focus on the theories and practices of postmodernism.

  • To what does the 'post' refer?
  • How is it (un)connected to modernism?
  • What are the ramifications for literary practice?
  • Framing the device, the death of the author, the destructible text, the unwriting of the text: what have we learned from such techniques?
  • In what sense has self-reflexiveness made the writing of fiction more interesting and perhaps even more potent?
  • To what extent have the interrogations of self-reflexivity liberated the novel from certain obsolete conventions?
The module will focus principally on literary examples of postmodernism, but attention will also be paid to other areas of cultural practice, such as film, visual art, and architecture. The seminar pattern will follow a series of thematic interests, which centre upon the characteristic features of postmodern practice, as well as considering some of the theoretical essays of the principal exponents of postmodern theory.



Seminar 1: Theories of Postmodernism
Extracts from Fredric Jameson, Postmodernism, or The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism; Jean-Francois Lyotard, The Postmodern Condition

Seminar 2: The Novel Undone
Thomas Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49

Seminar 3: Deconstructing Fiction
Paul Auster, The New York Trilogy

Seminar 4: Poetry in the Age of Electronic Reproduction
Extracts from American L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E Poets: Susan Howe, Lyn Hejinian, Ron Silliman, Bob Perelman, Charles Bernstein

Seminar 5: Postmodern Thought Experiments
Scarlett Thomas, The End of Mr Y

Seminar 6: Postmodern Identities
Winterson, The Powerbook

Seminar 7: Architecture and Urbanicity
Charles Jencks, The Emergent Rules; Robert Venturi, The Duck and the Decorated Shed; Paolo Portoghesi, Postmodern

Seminar 8: Other Worlds
William Gibson, Neuromancer

Seminar 9: Magic Realism
Salman Rushdie, Midnight's Children

Seminar 10: Postmodern and Film
Discussion of various postmodern films, including Blade Runner, The Matrix, A Cock and Bull Story, The Draughtsmans's Contract


There is currently a vast proliferation of texts and studies of postmodernism and its various impacts upon spheres of our society. There is a good selection of the principal texts in the Hugh Owen Library (and this is well supplemented by texts in the National Library). Additional bibliographies concerning individual writers will be compiled and given to students on a weekly basis. The Hugh Owen Library has large holdings on most of the authors represented on this course (including writers not mentioned but nevertheless prominent in postmodern culture).

Reading List

Essential Reading
Auster, Paul (1987) The New York Trilogy Faber Primo search Gibson, William (1986) Neuromancer Harper Collins Primo search Pynchon, Thomas (1967) The Crying of Lot 49 Cape Primo search Rushdie, Salman (1995) Midnight's Children David Campbell Primo search Thomas, Scarlett (2008) The End of Mr. Y Canongate Primo search Winterson, Jeanette (2001) The Powerbook Vintage Primo search
Recommended Text
Woods, Tim (1999) Beginning Postmodernism Manchester University Press Primo search
Supplementary Text
Bertens, Hans, and Joseph Natoli. (2002) Postmodernism: The Key Figures Blackwell Primo search Callinicos, Alex (2002) Against Postmodernism: A Marxist Critique Polity Press Primo search Docherty, Thomas, ed. (1993) Postmodernism: A Reader Harvester Wheatsheaf Primo search Hassan, Ihab (1971) The Dismemberment of Orpheus: Toward a Postmodern Literature Oxford University Press Primo search Lucy, Niall (2000) Postmodern Literary Theory: An Anthology Blackwell Primo search Malpas, Simon (2005) The Postmodern Routledge Primo search Sardar, Ziauddin (2002) The A-Z of Postmodern Life: Essays on Global Culture in the Noughties Vision Primo search


This module is at CQFW Level 6