Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Ali Smith and 21st Century fiction(s)
Academic Year
Semester 2
Reading List

Course Delivery



Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Essay  on the texts studied 4000 Words  100%
Supplementary Assessment Essay  on the texts studied 4000 Words  100%

Learning Outcomes

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

Demonstrate a critical understanding of a range of Ali Smith's writing.

Demonstrate an awareness of how Smith's work relates to other experimental work in a variety of art forms.

Demonstrate a critical understanding of Smith's significance as a leading 21st century novelist.

Articulate and analyse key debates in contemporary experimental writing.

Brief description

This module allows students to develop a sustained, detailed knowledge of the work of a single author. Why have a module on one writer? Well, Ali Smith has been said to be the most significant living British writer: why is that? We will look at how her technical innovation and fascination with the workings of narrative, of storytelling, and explore how these play out from her early work to her recent chronicle of Brexit Britain, the Seasons quartet. We will explore the way Smith blurs genre boundaries - or perhaps simply doesn't see them - the range of her cultural interests and the wealth of other works informing her own. In this module on this most generous of novelists, we will share in her joy in the deeply ordinary, the extraordinary, and work out, with her, how we tell the difference - and if that difference is there at all.


This module will:
  • introduce students to a range of Ali Smith's writing, from her first short story collection to her most recent novel series, charting changes and continuities and developing an in-depth understanding of Smith's work and her significance in 21st century literature.
  • allow students to contextualise the development of experimental writing of the last 25 years, and develop an understanding of the ongoing critical debates in the field.
  • explore Smith's use of a range of different literary forms and genres, and draw through-lines from early 20th century Modernism, through the 20th century, to today.


Ali Smith and 21st Century fiction(s)

Sessions 1 and 2: is it a bird [essay]? Is it a plane [novel]? Ali Smith’s aesthetic
  • Artful (2012)
  • Sessions 3 and 4: : from realism to… oooo?
  • Selected stories (provided) from Free Love (1995) and The First Person (2008)
  • Hotel World (2001)
  • Sessions 5 and 6: Public reading, public life
  • Public Library (2015)
  • Autumn (2016)
  • Sessions 7 and 8: The ‘Seasons’ Quartet 1: Brexit Britain
  • Autumn (2016)
  • Winter (2017)
  • Sessions 9 and 10: The ‘Seasons’ Quartet 2
  • Winter (2017)
  • Companion Piece (2022)

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Co-ordinating with others Seminar discussion, group work
Creative Problem Solving Written assessment, seminar discussion
Critical and analytical thinking Seminar work and written assessment
Digital capability Online research, use of scholarly resources
Professional communication Written assessment, seminar discussion
Reflection Seminar discussion, written assessment
Subject Specific Skills Sustained focus on the work of a single author.


This module is at CQFW Level 6