Module Identifier ENM6420  
Academic Year 2003/2004  
Co-ordinator Dr Christoph P Lindner  
Semester Semester 2  
Pre-Requisite Good honours degree  
Co-Requisite ENM0120 , ENM0220 , Three other MA option modules  
Course delivery Seminars / Tutorials   10 Hours Seminar. (5 X 2 hours)  

Learning outcomes

On completion of this module students should typically be able to:
demonstrate a sophisticated understanding of the text(s) under review in the written assignment, and an awareness of the broader cultural and theoretical issues raised by the module;
demonstrate an ability to write competently about the texts with reference to their cultural and historical background;
produce organised, coherently argued, and critically informed written work.

Brief description

What is retail therapy? Why is shopping fun? Where does desire end and ideology begin in a world of mass consumption? Engaging with such questions, this module explores how writers in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries sought to represent and come to terms with the rise of consumer culture. Moving through the naturalism of Emile Zola and Theodore Dreiser to the modernism of Joseph Conrad and Aldous Huxley, we will focus in particular on the impact of consumerism on narrative vision and literary practice.

Seminar Programme
1. The rise of consumer culture
Themes for discussion: what is consumerism? historical and social background, cultural conditions, material forms, literary responses.
Main text: David Hawkes, Ideology

2. Shopping for Pleasure
Themes for discussion: flanerie, fetishism, desire, spectacle, exhibition, gender and seduction.
Main text: Emile Zola, The Ladies' Paradise

3. The Metropolis on Display
Themes for discussion: urban growth, metropolitan culture, predatory consumers, domesticity, gender and performance.
Main text: Theodore Dreiser, Sister Carrie

4. Decadence and Decay
Themes for discussion: urban space, constructing time, anarchy, pornography, gender and politics.
Main text: Joseph Conrad, The Secret Agent

5. Everything for Sale
Themes for discussion: dystopias, mass culture, consumer psychology, discourse, agency, subjectivity.
Main text: Aldous Huxley, Brave New World


to provide a focused overview of literary responses to the rise of consumer culture in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries;
to locate these literary responses in their historical and cultural contexts;
to allow students to gain experience in the practical application of critical / cultural theory to the interpretation and analysis of texts.

Reading Lists

** Essential Reading
Zola, Emile The Ladies' Paradise Oxford World's Classics
Conrad, Joseph The Secret Agent Penguin Classics
Dreiser, Theodore Sister Carrie Penguin Classics
Huxley, Aldous Brave New World Penguin
Hawkes, David (2003) Ideology (2nd edition) Routledge

** Recommended Background
Bowlby, Rachel (1985) Just Looking: Consumer Culture in Dreiser, Gissing and Zola Methuen
Bowlby, Rachel (1993) Shopping With Freud Routledge
Kern, Stephen (1983) The Culture of Time and Space: 1880-1918 Harvard UP
Parsons, Deborah L. (2000) Streetwalking the Metropolis: Women, the City and Modernity Oxford UP
Richards, Thomas (1991) The Commodity Culture of Victorian England: Advertising and Spectacle 1851-1914 Verso
Stevenson, Randall (1992) Modernist Fiction Harvester Wheatsheaf


This module is at CQFW Level 7