Contemporary Literature and Global Society

This information is for the 2021/22 session.

Teacher responsible

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


This course is available as an outside option to students on all undergraduate programmes, and to General Course students. Students can take this course in any year of their studies, 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 2000) literature and films in the context of modern globalised society, covering prose, poetry, drama and cinematic works; (b) Focus on cultural postmodernism, including such aspects as: decline of national cultural frameworks; 'commodification' of culture; 'media-driven' society; gender issues; the problem of identity; social elites and social fragmentation; (c) study of films and individual authors in English translation (where relevant). (d) several related trips to galleries, film festivals 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 lectures and 1 hour of classes in the ST.

Structured activities during the reading week in the MT and LT. Revision workshops and tutorals in the ST.

This course has reading weeks in week 6 of Michaelmas and Lent terms.


Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 2 essays and 1 presentation in the MT and LT.

Indicative reading

Literature: Douglas Coupland, Generation X; Viktor Pelevin, Generation P (Babylon); Vesna Goldsworthy Gorsky (Scott Fitzgerald The Great Gatsby); Milan Kundera, Ignorance; Mohsin Hamid, The Reluctant Fundamentalist; Marina Lewicka A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian; Monica Ali, Brick Lane; Jonathan S. Foer Everything  Is Illuminated; Zadie Smith, White Teeth; Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, GloriaJohn le Carré, A Most Wanted Man.

Films: Good Bye, Lenin! (2003); Everything Is Illuminated (2005); Borat (2006); The Riot Club (2014); Loveless (2018).


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

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Student performance results

(2018/19 - 2020/21 combined)

Classification % of students
First 33.3
2:1 63.3
2:2 3.3
Third 0
Fail 0

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2021/22 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the differing needs of students in attendance on campus and those who might be studying online. For example, this may involve changes to the mode of teaching delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: Language Centre

Total students 2020/21: 14

Average class size 2020/21: 7

Capped 2020/21: Yes (16)

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

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