Contemporary Literature and Global Society

This information is for the 2018/19 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Angus Wrenn PEL 6.01A and Dr Olga Sobolev PEL 6.01A


Available as an outside option to all undergraduate and General Course students. Students can take this course in any year of their studies following approval from the teacher responsible and subject to their own programme regulations.


Although an A-level pass or equivalent in Literature is useful, it is not an absolute requirement (especially for General Course students).

Course content

(a) Study of contemporary (chiefly post 1990) world literature in the context of modern globalised society, covering prose, poetry and drama; (b) Focus on: cultural imperialism, decline of national frameworks; authors with global identity; 'commodification' of literature; individualism in modern liberal democracies and social fragmentation in the post-totalitarian context; (c) study of individual authors, in English translation where relevant. (d) several related trips to galleries and theatre productions during the year; (e) extensive use of archive recordings of authors, and video; (f) students are encouraged to draw upon their background in their main discipline, and to read widely.


10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of classes in the MT. 10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of classes in the LT. 1 hour of classes in the ST.

Two hours per week, featuring (a) lectures on a range of authors and themes; (b) classes including students' presentations; (c) revision workshops; and (d) tutorials. Structured activities during the reading week

Formative coursework

Two essays per year and presentations.

Indicative reading

Douglas Coupland, Generation X; Viktor Pelevin, Generation P (Babylon); Vesna Goldsworthy Gorsky (Scott Fitzgerald The Great Gatsby) ; Vaclav Havel Leaving (Shakespeare King Lear); Milan Kundera, Ignorance; Mohsin Hamid, The Reluctant Fundamentalist; Marina Lewicka A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian; Jonathan S. Foer Everything  Is Illuminated; ; Zadie Smith, White TeethTom Stoppard, Rock-n-Roll; contemporary films and visual culture.


Exam (70%, duration: 3 hours) in the summer exam period.
Essay (30%, 2500 words) in the LT.

Student performance results

(2015/16 - 2017/18 combined)

Classification % of students
First 31.6
2:1 65.8
2:2 0
Third 0
Fail 2.6

Key facts

Department: Language Studies

Total students 2017/18: 16

Average class size 2017/18: 8

Capped 2017/18: Yes (16)

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

PDAM skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Specialist skills