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module specification

SJ5003 - Victorians to Moderns (2022/23)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2022/23
Module title Victorians to Moderns
Module level Intermediate (05)
Credit rating for module 30
School School of Art, Architecture and Design
Total study hours 300
90 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
210 hours Guided independent study
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 20%   1000-word coursework
Coursework 30%   1500-word coursework
Coursework 50%   2500-word coursework
Running in 2022/23

(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Year North Friday Afternoon

Module summary

Victorians to Moderns forms the central section of the chronological spine of English Literature modules that also includes Romantics to Victorians and Moderns to Contemporaries. It examines the transformations of English literature and culture from the late 19th to the mid-20th century. Through the study of literature, philosophy, criticism and the arts, the module develops students’ critical understanding of cultural context and formal innovation in the English literary tradition. The module develops and extends debates encountered in Romantics to Victorians and introduces intellectual and critical debates proper to Modernism. The module is taught by weekly sessions comprising lecture and seminar, supplemented by tutorials, and is assessed by a variety of written coursework.

Victorians to Moderns aims to: develop students’ skills of critical analysis through the study of exemplary works from the period 1880-1940; enhance students’ competency in using academic criticism to develop their own critical practice; provide a critical account of social, political and cultural developments in the period as a framework for students’ understanding of the role of the imaginative writer in the period; engage students in complex critical and cultural debates that were central to the development of both literature and other art-forms during the period, in Britain and internationally.

Prior learning requirements

Completion and pass (120 credits) of previous level.


The module will broadly follow the chronological development of literary and artistic culture from the 1880s to WWII. The discussion of socio-historical, intellectual and aesthetic developments will be conducted through close study of primary texts as well as related academic criticism. Texts studied will include fiction, poetry and drama as well as examples of other artforms, such as painting and music. Topics will typically include Naturalism and the Social Sciences; Psychoanalysis; Spiritualism and the Occult; Decadence and Aestheticism; Technology and the City; Art, Manifesto and Revolt; the New Woman; War. Major authors to be studied will typically include Thomas Hardy, Oscar Wilde, James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, Katherine Mansfield, D.H. Lawrence, T.S. Eliot, W. B. Yeats, as well representatives of American and European modernism. LO1 - LO4

Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity

Scheduled teaching ensures that independent study is effective and addresses the learning outcomes and assessment tasks. Students are expected to, and have the opportunity to, continue with their studies outside of scheduled classes. There will be a range of learning strategies deployed and individual learning styles will be accommodated. The module’s learning outcomes, its contents and delivery, have been scrutinised and will be regularly reviewed to ensure an inclusive approach to pedagogic practice.

The module and course utilise the University’s blended learning platform to support and reinforce learning, to foster peer-to-peer communication and to facilitate tutorial support for students. Reflective learning is promoted through assessment items and interim formative feedback points that ask students to reflect on their progress, seek help where they identify the opportunity for improvement in learning strategies and outcomes, and make recommendations to themselves for future development. Throughout the module, students build a body of work, including reflections on progress and achievement.

The School’s programme of employability events and embedded work-related learning within the curriculum supports students’ personal development planning. Through these initiatives, students are increasingly able, as they progress from year to year, to understand the professional environment of their disciplines, the various opportunities available to them, and how to shape their learning according to their ambitions.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module students will be able to:

Subject specific skills
LO1 demonstrate skills of close formal textual analysis across a variety of genres;

LO2 apply argumentative structure to the analysis of primary and secondary texts;

Knowledge and understanding
LO3 identify and analyse major themes and debates of the literature of the period 1880 to 1940 in relation to historical contexts;

Cognitive intellectual abilities
LO4 critically evaluate or creatively respond to cultural production in the period across literary and artistic genres.

Assessment strategy

Assessment consists of 3 pieces of written coursework spaced across the module:

● 1000-word outline structure for academic essay (LO2)
● 1500-word thematic commentary on a set literary text (LO3)
● 2500-word critical essay or creative piece, responding to set texts and syllabus topics (LO1, LO4)


Where possible, the most current version of reading materials is used during the delivery of this module.  Comprehensive reading lists are provided to students in their handbooks.  Reading Lists will be updated annually.

Primary texts will include a wide range of literary works from the period.

Core textbooks:
Howarth, P., (2012) The Cambridge Introduction to Modernist Poetry, Cambridge University Press
Kern, S., (2011) The Modernist Novel: A Critical Introduction, Cambridge University Press
Levenson, M., (ed.), (2011) The Cambridge Companion to Modernism, Cambridge University Press

Other textbooks:
Alexander, N. and Moran, J., (eds), (2013) Regional Modernisms, Edinburgh University Press
Castle, G., (2015) A History of the Modernist Novel, Cambridge University Press
Cleary, J., (ed.), (2014) The Cambridge Companion to Irish Modernism, Cambridge University Press
Ellman, M., (2010) The Nets of Modernism: Henry James, Virginia Woolf, James Joyce, and Sigmund Freud, Cambridge University Press
Hunter, A., (2007) The Cambridge Introduction to the Short Story in English, Cambridge University Press
Hutchinson, G., (2007) The Cambridge Companion to the Harlem Renaissance, Cambridge University Press
Marshall, G., (ed.), (2007) The Cambridge Companion to the Fin de Siecle, Cambridge University Press
Marshik, C., (ed.), (2014) The Cambridge Companion to Modernist Culture, Cambridge University Press
Sherry, V., (2015) Modernism and the Reinvention of Decadence, Cambridge University Press
Tucker, H. F., (2014) A New Companion to Victorian Literature and Culture, Wiley
Van Wienen, M. W., (ed.), (2018) American Literature in Transition 1910-1920, Cambridge University Press
Wilson, L., (2013) Modernism and Magic: Experiments with Spiritualism, Theosophy and the Occult, Edinburgh University Press

Modernism/Modernity (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press)
Victorian Studies (Bloomington: Indiana University Press)

The Modernist Journals Project

Electronic Databases:
Academic Search Complete