Contemporary literature, expanding horizons
Booking for Summer Term opens 01 March Members / 08 March Non-Members
Summer 22: 09 May - 30 May (4 weeks)
Non-Members: £54 (4 weeks)
Members: £44 (4 weeks)
Concessions: £10 (contact the office for details)
What is contemporary literature? ‘Literature’ (as opposed to say ‘fiction’) always implies a qualitative judgement, but who makes these judgements about what contemporary Literature can be? And how and why might we want to expand it?
We’ll explore a range of novels and poetry (all published in English in or after 2017) and consider the role of publishing and reception, as well as writing, in shaping what comes to be called ‘literary’ and how it is read. Some books will be familiar, reviewed extensively in the broadsheet press, displayed prominently in bookshops, discussed or read on Radios 3 and 4. The rest will be less familiar e.g. published by small presses, shortlisted for lesser known prizes.
The course is shaped around three broad themes, central in much contemporary writing: Form (the ways in which literature is or might be written); History (or histories: familiar and recovered, authorised or marginalised); and Nature (human, animal, planetary). In each case a more familiar text is the starting point: Sally Rooney’s Normal People (Faber, 2018), Maggie O’Farrell’s Hamnet (Penguin Random House, 2020), and Max Porter’s Lanny (Faber, 2019). Around these are clustered less visible texts, mainly chosen from the shortlists of various literary prizes awarded in the UK (Forward Prize for Poetry, Rathbone Folio, Republic of Consciousness Prize, Warwick Prize for Women in Translation). Writers include: Fiona Benson, Sam Byers, Wioletta Greg, Preti Taneja, Olga Tokarczuk and Zoe Wicomb. We will draw on students’ knowledge of 20th century and/or contemporary literature to situate these texts in context and make use of online resources: blogs, podcasts, prize and publisher websites, literary reviews and journals.
Spring Term: History
Maggie O’ Farrell, Hamnet (Penguin Random House, 2020)
Zoe Wicomb, Still Life (The New Press, 2020)
Graham Swift, Mothering Sunday (Penguin Random House, 2016)
Eva Husson d., Mothering Sunday (film, 2021)
Scholastique Mukasonga, Our Lady of the Nile, trans. Melanie L. Mauthner (Daunt Books, 2021/2012)Sam Byers, Perfidious Albion (Faber, 2018)
Summer Term: Nature
Max Porter, Lanny (Faber, 2019)
Isabel Galleymore, Significant Other (Carcanet Press, 2019)
Sarah Moss, Ghost Wall (Granta, 2018)
- Spring 22: 10 January - 04 April (12 weeks) Half term 14 February
- Summer 22: 09 May - 30 May (4 weeks)
- Non-Members: £54 (12 weeks)
- Members: £44 (12 weeks)
- Concessions: £10 (contact the office for details)