Contemporary Literature and Global Society

This information is for the 2022/23 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); Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Gloria, 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, John 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.

Student performance results

(2019/20 - 2021/22 combined)

Classification % of students
First 37.5
2:1 54.2
2:2 8.3
Third 0
Fail 0

Key facts

Department: Language Centre

Total students 2021/22: 16

Average class size 2021/22: 11

Capped 2021/22: Yes (16)

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

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.

Personal development skills

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