ENGL 730: Contemporary British Literature

Fall, 2013; MWF 11:30 a.m. - 12:20 p.m.

Schedule of Classes | Web Resources | Message Board

Class Discussion Schedule

Professor Karin Westman
108B English/Counseling Services
Office: 532-2171; Office Hours: M, W 9-10 a.m. and by app't.
Email: westmank@ksu.edu

Required Texts
Ishiguro, The Remains of the Day(1988)
Osborne, Look Back in Anger (1956)
Sillitoe, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning(1958; UK Edition)
Lodge, Changing Places (1975)
Fielding, Bridget Jones's Diary (1997)
Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea (1966) (Norton Critical Edition)
Fowles, The French Lieutenant's Woman (1969)
Winterson, Sexing the Cherry (1989)
Churchill, Cloud 9 (1978)
Smith, White Teeth (2000)
Rosoff, How I Live Now (2004)
Stoppard, Arcadia (1993)
Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1980)
Selected poetry, fiction, and critical readings [CP]
Selected films, t.v. shows, and music
Class Pack [available as of 8/20/13 at A&S Copy Center in Eisenhower Hall]

Course Description and Objectives

This course will be an introductory, but intensive, survey of representative contemporary British writers from about 1950 to the present. We will focus on writers' responses to earlier traditions of realism and modernism, exploring the techniques of narrative fiction, non-fiction, drama, and poetry offered by their work; we will also trace the themes that these authors raise as they both respond and contribute to the increasingly postmodern and postcolonial experience of British culture. Cultural, historical, and theoretical context will be integrated into discussion by means of lecture and secondary readings and resources, allowing us to situate our close readings of the texts within the historical moment of their production and reception.

Our objectives are as follows:


Readings and Class Participation: Given the course objectives and learning outcomes stated above, this class will foreground discussion. Class participation is therefore expected and will count for 20% of your final grade. This portion of your grade includes your contributions to our discussions in class (in large and small groups) and to our discussions on the online message board (further information below). To participate, you must complete the reading assigned for each class session, think carefully about what you have read, and be ready to share your ideas.

Attendance: Your attendance is important, but I recognize that the unexpected will happen. Therefore, you will not be penalized for your three absences. However, subsequent absences will lower your final course grade; excessive absences (nine or more) or excessive lateness/early departure may result in failure of the course. While I appreciate your offering explanations for your absence, the only way to excuse an absence is to provide me with an official letter from your Dean or the Graduate School or an official notice of illness from the Health Center or your doctor. If you are absent, it is your responsibility to find out from another class member any announcements or assignments.

Class Discussion Questions: As part of the class participation grade, students will sign up in groups of two or three to initiate discussion for one of our class sessions. (A sign-up sheet will be available at our second class meeting.) Questions for class discussion (4-5 in number) should highlight issues or themes or queries you think we should address in our class discussion of the reading assigned for that day. Critical commentaries or historical context assigned for that class session can be included, too, to help us explore the primary reading. After conferring about and drafting the questions, groups should email me their questions by 6 p.m. the night before; I will confirm receipt and offer any suggestions for the order or focus of the questions.

Online Message Board: To offer another venue for discussion, we'll be using an online message board in K-State Online. Each week, each student is required to post at least one paragraph-length comment about the materials we're reading and discussing in class. I will read these discussions and assess a grade (at the end of the semester) based on the thoughtfulness of your comments, their ability to foster discussion among your classmates, and their responsiveness both to our readings and to your classmates’ comments in class and on the board. I'll provide some weekly question prompts as I follow these conversations, and I may also participate, but I see the message board primarily as a way for you to raise issues we haven’t addressed – or addressed fully or to your satisfaction – during our regular class meetings. The work contributed to the message board can become source material for more formal writing assignments.

The weekly message board will run from Friday to Friday, but I encourage you to contribute your ideas throughout the week and to check the board for others' postings. Your postings do not need to be long, but they do need to be substantive: they must be long enough to convey clearly the problem you are taking up and your point of view, connecting your comment to others' comments whenever possible. I will offer models of successful comments early in the semester.

To post to the message board, follow these directions:

1. Go to my homepage at http://www.ksu.edu/english/westmank/ and click on our course (ENGL 730), and then "Message Board" to login to K-State Online and go directly to the "Message Board." (You may also login to the K-State Online course page for ENGL 730, click on "Collaboration" and then select "Message Board.")
2. You should see all the messages posted to date and the newest threads ones first.
3. To post, choose to "reply," so you can engage directly in the conversation and your message can "thread" beneath the one you’re responding to. Please change the subject line so it reflects the content of your message.

Critical Writing : During the semester, you will be doing different kinds of critical writing: not only informal postings to the message board, but also more formal papers. All students will write one shorter paper (4-5 pages in length); undergraduates will also write a longer paper (7-8 pages in length), while graduate students will also write a longer paper with secondary sources (8-10 pages in length), an abstract of that paper, and an essay review of four articles or a book-length study about one of our authors on the syllabus. All papers will be on topics of your choosing in connection with our assigned readings. Both papers should follow the general rules of composition and be typed or word-processed with standard double-spacing, 1-inch margins, and either 11- or 12-point typeface. Title pages and cover sheets are unnecessary. Pages should be numbered, stapled together, proof-read, and spell-checked. Papers are due by the date and time on the syllabus; late papers will be penalized one grade (i.e.: A to B) for each day late.

You will also write four response papers (2 pages in length) in response to our readings. Response papers are designed to ready you for class discussion and to explore ideas you could develop further in your longer paper. You can choose when to complete your four responses, with the following guidelines in mind: 1) you can only write a response for a day when we have reading or viewing due, 2) one (and only one) response must be for a critical essay or critical reading, 3) two responses should be completed before October 18, with the first being due for everyone on Friday, August 30. In your response paper, you should not repeat previous class discussions or provide a mere summary of the reading. Instead, your response should begin to analyze the primary and secondary reading assigned for that class session, selecting an issue or theme or question you feel to be significant. I recommend that you select a word, phrase, or short quotation from the reading to initiate your response. (See sample response distributed in class.) Responses will be graded on a 1-5 scale: 5=A, 4=B, 3=C, 2=D, 1=F. I do not accept late response papers.

A note on sources: a “Works Cited” page should accompany any assignment that cites books and other outside sources, and you should use the MLA method for documenting sources. When you turn in a paper, you pledge that the work is your own and that you have faithfully abided by the guidelines for documenting sources. The University’s Honor Code obliges you to cite the source of any idea that is not your own. If you quote, paraphrase, or use another’s ideas, you must give credit to the person whose ideas you are using. Otherwise, you have plagiarized. If you have any questions, please ask. If you do plagiarize, you will fail this course.

Multi-Media Project: You will choose one of four possible multi-media projects to complete during the semester. Your multi-media project can be submitted on any class day but must be turned in no later than Wednesday, December 11. Each project should demonstrate insight and understanding of the text with which it connects, should be thoughtfully constructed, and should be presented professionally with attention to detail.  Refer to the grading rubrics (posted in K-State Online as of August 30) for detailed grading criteria. The assignment will be distributed next week, but here are brief descriptions:


Examination: You will have a cumulative final exam.

Online and video resources: Along with some required viewing (two episodes of the t.v. show The Prisoner, Sherlock Series 1, and Jordan's The Crying Game), I will refer you to resources available online or on video to complement our readings and discussions. A "Web Resources" link from our course homepage will take you to a page of links devoted to contemporary British culture and literature. From there, you can, for instance, peruse current and back issues of the Guardian's Book pages (an excellent way to keep up with the most recent literary news), learn about postcolonial literature or the partition of India, or find biographies and web resources on our authors. I will add and update these resources as the semester progresses; if you locate a site or page which you find valuable, please let me know, and I'll consider adding it to the existing resource links. On television and online, the daily broadcast of the "BBC World News" (M-Sat, 10p.m.) on PBS and "Prime Minister's Questions" (Sun, 8 p.m. & 11p.m.) on C-SPAN can provide some further insight into contemporary British culture.

Email: I highly recommend email as a way of touching base with me about your work for the class -- a kind of virtual office hours. You can send me queries about reading or writing assignments, your thesis statement for an essay, or anything else that could be handled with a quick exchange of messages. I check my email throughout the day, but please remember that I am not perpetually online.

Conferences: I want you to succeed in this course, and I am happy to meet with you about your work and your progress. I encourage you to see me before exams or papers are due, or if you have questions about material we discuss in class. Please feel free to stop by during office hours (M, W 9:00-10:00 a.m.), or contact me by phone or email to arrange a more convenient time to meet.

Note: If you have any condition such as a physical or learning disability that will make it difficult for you to carry out the work as I have outlined it or which will require academic accommodations, please notify me in the first two days of the course. Any student with a disability who needs a classroom accommodation, access to technology, assistance during an emergency evacuation, or other assistance in this course should contact Disability Support Services and/or me. DSS serves students with a wide range of disabilities including, but not limited to, physical disabilities, sensory impairments, learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder, depression, and anxiety.

Academic Honesty: Kansas State University has an Honor System based on personal integrity, which is presumed to be sufficient assurance that, in academic matters, one’s work is performed honestly and without unauthorized assistance. Undergraduate and graduate students, by registration, acknowledge the jurisdiction of the Honor System. The policies and procedures of the Honor System apply to all full and part-time students enrolled in undergraduate and graduate courses on-campus, off-campus, and via distance learning. The honor system website can be reached <http://www.k-state.edu/honor/>. A component vital to the Honor System is the inclusion of the Honor Pledge which applies to all assignments, examinations, or other course work undertaken by students. The Honor Pledge is implied, whether or not it is stated: “On my honor, as a student, I have neither given nor received unauthorized aid on this academic work.” If you have any questions about your work in relation to the Honor System, please ask.

Expectations for Student Conduct: All student activities in the University, including this course, are governed by the Student Judicial Conduct Code as outlined in the Student Governing Association By Laws, Article VI, Section 3, number 2. Students who engage in behavior that disrupts the learning environment may be asked to leave the class.

Grading: Undergraduate Students: The two papers will count for 35% of your final grade (15% and 20% respectively); the response papers will count for 15% of your final grade; the multi-media project will count for 10% of your final grade. Class participation (20%) and a final exam (20%) complete the requirements.

Graduate Students: The shorter paper will count for 10%, the essay review will count for 10%, and the longer paper and its abstract will count for 20% of your final grade. The response papers will count for 15% of your final grade, and the multi-media project will count for 10% of your final grade. Class participation (20%) and a final exam (15%) complete the requirements.

Schedule of Classes

[CP] = Class Pack; [X]=items distributed as xeroxes

August M 26 Introduction: England, c. 1950

"I know this is paradise" - Larkin, "High Windows" (1967)

W 28 Ishiguro, The Remains of the Day (1988) (1-141); Background reading: Davies, "From Imperial to Post-Imperial Britain" (1-8) and Morley and Robins, "Chronology" (504-10); Cockin and Morrison, "Timeline" (25-31)[CP]
F 30 The Remains of the Day (143-245); Connor, from "Outside In," The English Novel In History, 1950-1990 (83-89, 104-112), Shafer, "Kazuo Ishiguro's The Remains of the Day" (1157-174) [CP]; Response Paper #1 due (2 pp.)
September M 2 No Class -- Labour Day
  W 4 Osborne, Look Back in Anger (1956) (1-96)
F6 Look Back in Anger; critical readings on Osborne [CP]; Discussion #1
  M 9 Selected poems: Larkin [CP]
W 11 Selected poems: Larkin [CP]
F 13 Sillitoe, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1958) (5-176)
M 16 Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (177-219)
W 18 Selected Poems: Raine; Harrison; Hughes [CP]
F 20 Selected poems: Hughes [CP]

Outside, Looking In: Nation, Rebellion, Obsession

Su 22 Evening viewing of The Prisoner
M 23 Two episodes of The Prisoner(1967-68); critical readings on The Prisoner [CP]
T 24 Paper #1 due (4-5 pp.) to my mailbox in ECS 119 by 5 p.m.
W 25 Selected poems: Adcock and Cope [CP]
F 27 Phillips, from A New World Order (2001); Selected poems: Soyinka, Walcott, Agard, Zephaniah, Kay, Alvi, Collins; Childs, "Anti- and Post-Colonial Writing" [CP]
M 30 Lodge, Changing Places (1975) (7-151)
October W 2 Changing Places (153-251); Connor, from "Conditions of England" (44-50, 69-74); Davies, "Britain, Europe, and Americanisation" (103-109) [CP]; Discussion #2
  F 4 A Riot of One's Own: Punk and Protest, with guest speakers Phil Nel and Tim Dayton; Marcus, "Anarchy in U.K." (1980) [CP]; selected lyrics [K-State Online]

M 7 Hornby, from Fever Pitch [CP]; Phillips, from A New World Order [CP]
W 9 Fielding, Bridget Jones's Diary (1997) (1-153); Connor, from "The Novel in Contemporary History" (13-27) [CP]
  F 11 Bridget Jones's Diary (157-271); readers' comments at Amazon.com; interview with Fielding; critical commentaries [CP]; Discussion #3


(Re)Writing the Past . . .

M 14 Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea (1966) (9-64)
W 16 Wide Sargasso Sea (64-112)
F 18 Wide Sargasso Sea; excerpts from Bronte's Jane Eyre (119-132 ); excerpts from Rhys' letters & facsimile of mss. (135-147); and Rody, "Burning Down the House..." (217-225); Discussion #4

M 21 Fowles, The French Lieutenant's Woman (1969) (1-103/Chps1-16)
W 23 The French Lieutenant's Woman (104-195/Chps17-30)
F 25 The French Lieutenant's Woman (196-279/Chps 31-47). Online discussion.

M 28 The French Lieutenant's Woman (280-366/Chps 48-end); Michael, "'Who is Sarah?': A Critique of The French Lieutenant's Woman's Feminism" [CP]
W 30 Winterson, Sexing the Cherry (1989) (1-77)
R 31 Essay Review due (4-5 pages) to my mailbox in ECS 119 by 5 p.m.
November F 1 Sexing the Cherry (78-167);Winterson, from Art Objects; interview, reviews of Sexing the Cherry [CP]
  M 4 Sexing the Cherry; Winterson, from "Reader, Writer, Words" from Art Objects [CP]; Wasserstrom, "Are You Now or Have You Ever Been ... Postmodern?"; Hutcheon, The Politics of Postmodernism (1-7, 47-54, 71-78); Doan, "Sexing the Postmodern" [CP]
W 6 Churchill, Cloud 9 (1978) (1-92); critical reviews of Churchill [CP]
F 8 Cloud 9; Jordan, The Crying Game (1992); Jordan, "Introduction to The Crying Game"

  M 11 Jordan, The Crying Game; Giles, from The Crying Game; Chumo, "The Crying Game, Hitchcockian Romance, and the Quest for Identity"; Daly, "Post-Colonial Carnival (?): Neil Jordan's The Crying Game" [CP]; Discussion #5
W 13 Selected poems: Heaney [CP]; Childs, from The Twentieth-Century in Poetry (182-189) [CP]
R 14 Prospectus/Abstract for Paper #2 due (1 page) to my mailbox in ECS 119 by 5 p.m.
F 15 Selected poems: Heaney [CP]

M 18 Smith, White Teeth (4-152)
W 20 White Teeth (153-339)
F 22 Smith (343-448); reader comments and critical reviews/reading(s) on Smith [CP]; Discussion #6

M 25 No Class --
W 27 Thanksgiving
F 29 Break
December M 2 Sherlock Series 1


. . . and Imagining the Future

  W 4 Rosoff, How I Live Now (2004); reviews, interviews, critical readings on Rosoff [CP]
R 5 Paper #2 (and abstract) due to my mailbox in ECS 119 by 5 p.m. (graded paper returned by Friday, Dec 13)
F 6

Stoppard, Arcadia (1993) (1-97)

M 9 Arcadia; Paper #2 (and abstract) due to my mailbox in ECS 119 by 5 p.m. (graded paper returned by Thursday, Dec 19)
W 11 Adams, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1980); Discussion #7
F 13 Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy; Review for Final Exam

R 19 Final Exam, 11:50 a.m. - 1:40 p.m.