Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Postwar American Fiction
Academic Year
Semester 1
Other Staff

Course Delivery



Due to Covid-19 students should refer to the module Blackboard pages for assessment details

Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Essay Assignment  1 x 3000 word essay  60%
Semester Exam 8 Hours   Oral Presentation  1 x 15 minute oral presentation during the examination period  40%
Supplementary Assessment Resubmit failed or mising essay  Resubmit 1 x 3000 word essay  60%
Supplementary Assessment Revisit missing or failed oral assessment  Submit written assignment instead of the missing or failed oral presentation  40%

Learning Outcomes

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

1. Critically evaluate the novesl and realte their concerns to theoretical concepts and terminology.

2. Explain and synthesize key arguments concerning the definitions of modernist and postmodernist fiction

3. Compare, analyse and evaluate the experimental innovations in the texts of one author, or of several authors, drawn from the period

4. Communicate, making use of technological aids, a mastery of a specific area of the literary period or an author/text within the period, in an oral presentation to an audience


This will form part of the suite of option modules available to MA English Literature students. Following the review of English MA modules in 2015, this module has been shaped to adhere to the suggested standard departmental format. The module is an optional module that allows students to pursue their interests in modern and contemporary literature, albeit with an American focus. That said, the module will engage students in literary analysis that is rigorously informed by theoretical and historical concepts and debates to mark the progression from BA to MA study.

Brief description

Postwar American fiction is the site of innovative metafictional interventions that threw narrative conventions wide open. This module has a particular focus on questions of periodisation, “experimentalism”, modernism/postmodernism, metafiction, the representation of the city, and issues of spatiality. The texts will be treated as springboards into a particular author’s wider oeuvre; or indicative of thematic areas of representation or conceptual ideas about narrative and subjectivity that are the focus of several different authors. Alongside the literary authors, students will be expected to engage with works by theoreticians and cultural critics who have intersected with the metafictional innovation of the past 60 years. The aim of the module is to develop students’ critical consciousness of the relevant terminology, key historical and cultural concepts, and of the major ideas that inform this literary trajectory or persuasion in postwar decades.

Estimated Student Workload
20 hours – seminars
5 hours – student presentations
30 hours – seminar preparation
5 hours – preparation for presentation
90 hours – self study and reading
50 hours – researching and writing essay


The module will focus on the following texts:
Week 1 Introduction
Week 2 Thomas Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49 (1966)
Week 3 John Barth, Lost in the Funhouse (1968)
Week 4 William Gibson, Neuromancer (1984)
Week 5 Paul Auster, The New York Trilogy (1986)
Week 6 Don DeLillo, Mao II (1991)
Week 7 Toni Morrison, Jazz (1992)
Week 8 Jonathan Safran Foer, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (2005)
Week 9 Jennifer Egan, A Visit from the Goon Squad (2010)
Week 10 David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest (1996)

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number N/A
Communication Through seminar engagement and the oral presentation
Improving own Learning and Performance Formative assessment offered on seminar presentations in preparation for summative presentation
Information Technology Use of technological resources for oral presentation
Personal Development and Career planning Learning how to present material to a live audience
Problem solving Dealing with theoretical ideas and threshold concepts
Research skills Research Skills required for essay and presentation
Subject Specific Skills Specific literary research skills, meshing literary analysis with historical and theoretical ideas
Team work Preparing for class seminars


This module is at CQFW Level 7