Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Postmodern Genres
Academic Year
Semester 1

Course Delivery



Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion

Learning Outcomes

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

1. Demonstrate detailed knowledge of the theoretical and artistic contexts of postmodern culture and its interpretation;

2. Demonstrate detailed knowledge of selected postmodern texts and an awareness of the different kinds of literary experimentation at work in prose and poetry during the postwar period;

3. Explain and engage with relevant aspects of recent critical and/or theoretical debates about postmodernism, its key thinkers and artistic practitioners.

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.

Estimated Student Workload
Contact time: 20 hours
Reading and preparation: 100 hours
Independent study preparing assignments 77.5 hrs


This module builds on staff research expertise to introduce students to a range of postmodern writing, in both poetry and prose. The module’s delivery and assessment encourages comparative analysis and enables students to move across and between different genres. Literary texts are closely matched with important critical and theoretical texts in order to give students a sound conceptual understanding of postmodernism.


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'Hara 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:
Text: John Fowles, The French Lieutenant's Woman (1969)

Week Three:
Text: Sequences from Charles Bernstein, All the Whiskey in Heaven: Selected Poems (2011)

Week Four:
Text: Joanna Russ, The Female Man (1975)

Week Five:
Text: Lyn Hejinian, My Life and My Life in the Nineties (2013)

Week Six: Oral Presentations (on 1 prose and 1 poetic text)

Week Seven:
Text: Angela Carter, Nights at the Circus (1984)

Week Eight:
Text: Denise Riley, Selected Poems (2000)

Week Nine:
Text: Iain Banks, The Bridge (1986)

Week Ten:
Text: the Pearl sequence, from Barry McSweeney, Wolf Tongue: Poems 1975 – 2000 (2003)

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number N/A
Communication Written communication in the form of essays, oral communication in seminar discussion and group presentations
Improving own Learning and Performance Developing own research skills, management of time, expression and use of language.
Information Technology Through group discussions in seminars
Personal Development and Career planning By critical reflection and the development of transferable communication skills.
Problem solving Formulating and developing extended arguments
Research skills By relating literary texts to historical contexts and theoretical commentaries, and by synthesizing various perspectives in an evaluative argument.
Subject Specific Skills Detailed critical and contextual analysis of literary texts and evaluation of the theoretical concepts
Team work


This module is at CQFW Level 7