Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Contemporary Writing
Academic Year
Semester 2
Reading List
Other Staff

Course Delivery



Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Essay  (1 x 2000 word essay)  50%
Semester Exam 2 Hours   Exam  50%
Supplementary Assessment RESUBMIT MISSED OR FAILED ESSAY  2000 Words  50%
Supplementary Exam 2 Hours   RE-SIT EXAM  Resit examination  50%

Learning Outcomes

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

1. Demonstrate an informed critical understanding of selected examples of contemporary writing.

2. Relate these texts to contemporary cultural concerns and contexts.

3. Write about contemporary literary texts in a structured and disciplined manner.

Brief description

This module introduces students to a range of contemporary writing in English, focusing on literary production in the twenty-first century. It covers a variety of forms, styles, and linguistic registers, but concentrates chiefly on the genres of the novel, poetry, and creative non-fiction. The module adopts a wide-angled perspective on the phenomenon of ‘contemporary writing’, selecting set texts from the literary cultures of Britain, Ireland, and North America. Students will be encouraged to explore the relationships between texts and their particular historical moment, and to interrogate the very idea of ‘contemporaneity’. In particular, students will explore two major thematic concerns in contemporary writing over the course of the module:
1) narratives of trauma and testimony; and
2) ideas of place and environment.
Other topics of discussion will include: literature and apocalypse; national identity; gender and sexuality; form and experiment. In this way, the module will enable students to engage with a variety of topics and concepts that they will encounter at a higher level in Part Two.


EN10520 Contemporary Writing continues to be a popular option module in the department’s Part One provision. This revised version seeks to build upon its existing strengths whilst also making some improvements. Because of the nature of the topic itself, Contemporary Writing is likely to require periodic revision and updating on a fairly regular basis. The main change introduced in this revised version of the module is the reduction in the number of texts studied – from eight to four – allowing for more sustained and detailed engagements with the primary texts, their contexts, and a range of related critical ideas. Several lectures will provide students with focused advice on the modes of assessment used on the module, and there are also four thematic lectures to supplement the text-focused teaching delivery that is at the core of this module.


1. Introduction to the module: what do we mean when we say “contemporary”?
2. The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead 1
3. The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead 2
4. Pigeon, Alys Conran 1
5. Pigeon, Alys Conran 2
6. How to be Both, Ali Smith 1
7. How to be Both, Ali Smith 2
8. Shut Up Shut Down Mark Nowak 1
9. Shut Up Shut Down Mark Nowak 2
10.Where are we now? Final thoughts and exam revision

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number n/a
Communication Written - developing a sustained critical argument Oral - group discussions adn seminar presentations (not assessed)
Improving own Learning and Performance Independent research and reading
Information Technology Use of word-processing packages, use of Blackboard and other e-resources to research and access course documents and other materials
Personal Development and Career planning Increased critical self-reflection and the development of transferable, ICT, communication and research skills
Problem solving By evaluative analysis and critical skills
Research skills By independent research and synthesizing information in an evaluative argument
Subject Specific Skills Reading, writing and researching skills involved in the interrogation of literary texts, and the conceptual/theoretical analysis of works of imaginative literature in relation to a range of other non- literary texts
Team work Group work in seminars and/or through the preparation of paired presentations for seminars


This module is at CQFW Level 4