Module Identifier EN33720  
Academic Year 2003/2004  
Co-ordinator Professor Timothy S Woods  
Semester Intended for use in future years  
Next year offered N/A  
Next semester offered N/A  
Course delivery Seminars / Tutorials   20 Hours Seminar. (10 x 2 hr seminar workshops)  
Assessment TypeAssessment Length/DetailsProportion
Semester Assessment Continuous Assessment: 2 essays (2,500 words each)100%
Supplementary Assessment Resubmit any failed elements and/or make good any missing elements. 

Learning outcomes

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

- Describe and appraise the main theories of and debates within postmodernism
- Relate theories and practices of postmodernism to set texts
- Describe the broad effects of postmodern devices on literary and cultural forms
- Apply examples from the arguments of principal exponents of postmodern theory
- Comment critically on the material chosen for study
- Engage in coherent oral discussion of the texts and background material
- 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.


1. Theories of Postmodernism: Fredric Jameson, Postmodernism, or The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism; J-F Lyotard, The Postmodern Condition; Jurgen Habermas, Modernity - An Incomplete Project
2. Erasing Worlds?: The Novel Undone: Thomas Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49
3. Deconstructing Fiction: Paul Auster, The New York Trilogy
4. Poetry in the Age of Electronic Reproduction: Extracts from American 'Language' Poets: Susan Howe, Lyn Hejinian, Ron Silliman, Bob Perelman, Charles Bernstein
5. Desire, Simulacra, and Spectacles: Angela Carter, The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman
6. Feminism/Postmodernism: Joanna Russ, The Female Man
7. Architecture and Urbanicity: Charles Jencks, The Emergent Rules; Robert Venturi, The Duck and the Decorated Shed; Paolo Portoghesi, Postmodern
8. Magic Realism: Salman Rushdie, Midnight's Children
9. Other Worlds: William Gibson, Neuromancer
10. Postmodern and Film: Ridley Scott, Blade Runner; The Wachowski Brothers, The Matrix

Set Texts:
Thomas Docherty, Postmodernism: A Reader (Harvester)
Thomas Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49 (Picador)
Paul Auster, The New York Trilogy (Faber and Faber)
Angela Carter, The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman (Penguin)
William Gibson, Neuromancer (Grafton)
Salman Rushdie, Midnight's Children (Picador)
Joanna Russ, The Female Man (The Women's Press)

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).


This module is at CQFW Level 6