English 138 - Winter, 2016

British Literature 1945-present

Class Information

Instructor: Marx, John
CRN: 43592
Time: MWF 11:00-11:50
Location: 146 Olson


    This course welcomes majors and non-majors. It fulfills the following General Education Requirements: Arts & Humanities, World Cultures, & Writing Experience.

    This course fulfills the "one course focusing on literature written in English between 1900 and the present" portion of the English Major Historical Distribution requirement.

    This course is about British fiction in the context of globalization. It is a contemporary literature class focusing on books published from 1988 to 2015. It is not a coverage course, but rather a class that asks what the British novel looks like now, why anyone gets exercised about literary writing produced in this small place that used to have a global empire, and how that past when England used to be geopolitically more important colors a moment when it is overshadowed by Europe, the US, and China. Part of the answer will come from observing how those other places and their peoples figure prominently: we'll encounter Chinese rockers in exile in the UK and Black Britons living in Boston. We'll also find it hard to ignore older forms of writing, reminders of things you've read in other English courses. Not surprisingly, contemporary British writing is multiracial and filled with reminders of the past.


    - two papers (25% each)
    - midterm essay exam (10%)
    - final exam (20%)
    - class participation (20%)


    The Icarus Girl (2005), Helen Oyeyemi
    On Beauty (2005), Zadie Smith
    Ghostwritten (1999) , David Mitchell
    The Swimming Pool Library (1988), Alan Hollinghurst
    I Am China (2014), Xiaolu Guo
    Odysseus Abroad (2014), Amit Chaudhuri