Module Identifier ENM6420  
Academic Year 2004/2005  
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:

1. demonstrate a sophisticated understanding of the texts studied on the module, and a specialist knowledge of the broader critical and theoretical issues associated with the study of modern literature and consumer culture;

2. demonstrate this understanding and knowledge in an extended critical and analytical essay that makes reference to the cultural and historical contexts of the text(s) under review;

3. produce organized, coherently argued, and critically informed written work.


This module aims:

1. to provide a focused overview of literary responses to the rise of consumer culture in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries;

2. to locate these literary responses in their historical and cultural contexts;

3. to allow students to gain experience in the practical application of critical / cultural theory to the interpretation and analysis of texts.

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

Reading Lists

** Should Be Purchased
David Hawkes (2003) Ideology (2nd edition) Routledge: New Critical Idiom series 0415290120
Emile Zola (1998) The Ladies' Paradise Oxford World's Classics 0192836021
Theodore Dreiser (1998) Sister Carrie Oxford World's Classics 0192835742
Joseph Conrad (2000) The Secret Agent Penguin Modern Classics 0141182628
Aldous Huxley (2004) Brave New World Vintage 0099458160
** Recommended Background
Rachel Bowlby (1985) Just Looking: Consumer Culture in Dreiser, Gissing and Zola Methuen
Rachel Bowlby (1993) Shopping With Freud Routledge
Stephen Kern (1983) The Culture of Time and Space: 1880-1918 Harvard UP
Deborah L. Parsons (2000) Streetwalking the Metropolis: Women, the City and Modernity Oxford UP
Thomas Richards (1991) The Commodity Culture of Victorian England: Advertising and Spectacle 1851-1914 Verso
Randall Stevenson (1992) Modernist Fiction Harvester Wheatsheaf


This module is at CQFW Level 7