Modern World Literature

Module code: FR3060 / IT3060 / SP3060
Module co-ordinator: Dr Emma Staniland

This course will introduce key concepts and texts related to the representation of modernity in world literature. We will consider thematic and stylistic features, taking into account the specificity of national cultural contexts, while engaging with the wider theoretical debates framing the notion of Modernism and modernity.

The course will be divided into three parts, each dedicated to a text from the modernist literary canon of the three languages taught with the School of Modern Languages: French, Italian and Spanish. However as this is a school-wide module and students will not have a working knowledge of all three languages, class discussions will be based on reference to an agreed English translation of the work in question. Each part of the course will begin with an introductory lecture to the author/text to be studied, and the following two sessions will be seminars for which preparatory reading (including secondary sources where relevant) and points for consideration will be set, so that a guided discussion can take place. A final, concluding seminar will be used to generate a comparative discussion of the works studied in order to aid students in formulating their comparative essay assignment.

Set texts are likely to include: 

  • Charles Baudelaire, Paris Spleen, 1869, trans. by Martin Sorrel (Oneworld Classics, 2010)
  • Luigi Pirandello, The Late Mattia Pascal, 1904, trans. by Nicoletta Simborowski, Dedalus, 2011
  • Julio Cortazar, Blow-up and Other Stories (1968), trans. by Paul Blackburn, Random House/Pantheon Books, 2004

At the end of this module, you will be able to:

  • Recognise several different stylistic, thematic, and narrative features of literature
  • Apply this awareness to selected texts from world literature of the modern and contemporary period
  • Make connections between different trends and movements in world literature
  • Demonstrate an understanding of cultural, historical, and sociopolitical issues affecting literary texts
  • Show an increased intercultural awareness through the ability to draw comparisons between the texts produced by different cultures
  • Write about world literature in an appropriate academic register
  • Discuss seminar topics based on independent research and guided reading


  • 10 hours of seminars
  • 65 hours of guided independent study


  • Essay, 2,500-3,000 words (100%)