Department of English UG Module Directory (2020)

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High and Low Moderns

Level 6 (15 credits)

This module introduces a broad range of literary and cultural production from Britain in the 1920s and 30s, including: pulp fiction, middlebrow writing, journalism, advertising, science fiction, radio and cinema. The focus across these different media will be on how different authors conceive of audiences as a site of conflict or negotiation between 'high' and 'low' culture. We will be especially concerned with the depiction of audiences as consumers of new and old media, and with the diverse uses of science and technology for high-, middle- and lowbrow ends. We will also question the categorisation of literature and culture in these vertical terms and ask what the alternatives might be.

Preparing for this Module and Approximate Costs

The longest text to read is Aldous Huxley's Point Counterpoint. You might want to read this in advance. The main thing to look out for is how the characters are depicted consuming and producing various forms of culture: not just music, literature, art, and fashion, but more broadly to also include food, religion, science, travel, politics etc. During the course we will explore the ways in which Huxley's characters use cultural consumption and production as a way to relate to each other and construct an identity in agreement or opposition to others.

Something else you can do to prepare is keep a note of the kinds of things you consume - magazines, podcasts, advertising, sports, TV etc etc. What forms of culture seem to be rated as 'valuable' and which ones are rated as 'trash'? During the course we will explore how these kinds of hierarchies unfolded in the 1920s and 30s and we will reflect on whether anything has changed.

£30 max. Usually a lot less - most of the reading will be provided in packs.

Learning Context Long Seminar
Semester 2

1. Contextual Exercises (1,250 words), 40%
2. Final Essay (2,750 words), 60%

Mode of reassessment Standard
Contact kitt price