Department of English UG Module Directory (2020)

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British Fictions of the 1960s

Level 6 (15 credits)

This module introduces debates around the fiction of the 1960s by way of a focus on how the intense social transformations associated with the 1960s, largely to do with sexuality and class, gave rise to experimental modes of writing by well-known writers of the time such as Anthony Burgess, Muriel Spark, Angela Carter, Edna O'Brien, Nell Dunn and J.G. Ballard, as well as the self-styled 'experimental' group led by B.S. Johnson and Ann Quin. The module looks at how this experimentalism interacted with that traditional strength of British post-war fiction: social realism, producing a distinctive strand of British fiction in the 1960s.

Preparing for this Module and Approximate Costs

Over the vacation you could read some 1960's novels by the authors on the module, authors such as Anthony Burgess, Muriel Spark, BS Johnson, Angela Carter.

The best preparation in terms of vacation reading if you are on campus is to read Sebastian Groes, British Fiction of the 1960s (2015) - it's expensive to buy, but there are new paperback copies in the QM library. This book is an almost perfect guide to the module.

Or, if you want something to buy, you could get the acclaimed recent paperback reprint of Nell Dunn's Talking to Women - originally published in 1965 - a collection of conversations with a diverse range of women writers, painters, poets, shop workers and factory workers. You could also buy the fairly cheap paperback: Jonathan Coe, Like A Fiery Elephant: The Story of BS Johnson (2005) a popular award-winning book, very readable and which will give you a sense, not only of BS Johnson, but of the whole literary scene in the 1960s.

For general background and context, there are many recent popular (if often 'revisionist') cultural histories of the decade in QM library, such as Dominic Sandbrook, White Heat: A History of Britain in the Swinging Sixties 1964-1970

Please note that all the primary novels on the course are currently in print at reasonable prices but you are advised to purchase them well in advance online at a cheaper price

The approximate costs that students will incur if they take this module will be around £45 - this is the cost of the dozen or so primary novels on the course. Almost all of these novels are in print and are available in cheap paperback editions and can be found even cheaper if bought in advance online.

Unfortunately most of the good books of criticism and the author monographs for this module tend to be quite expensive and you are not obliged to buy any, but they are available in the QM library and at Senate House.

Learning Context Long Seminar
Semester 1 or 2

1. Essay (1,500 words), 30%
2. Final Essay (3,000 words), 70%

Mode of reassessment Standard
Contact Howard Finn