ENGL 635 "Contemporary British Literature"
England, as the seat of power for the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, has been a center for art and commerce for centuries. It has also been a country of immigrants, especially with the arrival in 1948 of the Empire Windrush. Traveling from the far reaches of a fading Empire, this ship’s passengers hoped for a better life in the mother country but arrived in a nation whose doors were often closed to people of color, its cities and countryside ravaged by the bombs and rationing of World War II. What kind of England emerged from the rubble of war? What is the legacy of this immigration in contemporary British culture?During the next few months, we will explore answers to these questions as we study the literature and culture of post-WWII Britain through 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, drama, poetry, and film/television offered by their work. We will also trace the themes that these authors raise as they both respond and contribute to the post-WWII, post-Windrush, and post-Brexit experience of British culture. Cultural, historical, and theoretical context will be integrated into discussion through secondary readings and resources, allowing us to situate our close readings of the texts within the historical moment of their production and reception.
Course Modality: We will meet in a HyFlex modality, with some enrolled in person and some enrolled online -- pending the need to go fully online for COVID or weather. (See Canvas for Zoom link.) On selected weeks (noted below on the schedule of classes with [A]), we will meet for a portion of our scheduled time, and you will complete an asynchronous activity (shared on Wednesday, due by 11:59pm on Friday) which will represent the balance of your weekly time in class.
Readings and Class Participation: Given the course objectives 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 (10%, in large and small groups) and to our discussions on the online message board (10%, further information below). Your goal is to be an active presence in the class: you should complete the reading or viewing assigned for each class session, think carefully about that material, and be ready to share your ideas -- in class and online, synchronously and asynchronously.
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, their responsiveness to our readings, and their ability to "translate" scholarly discussions for a general audience. I'll provide weekly question prompts as I follow these conversations, and I may also participate, but I see the online discussion 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 Saturday to Friday, to encourage you to post right after as well as before our weekly class discussions, but I encourage you to contribute your ideas throughout the week and to check the board for others' postings. Postings will count for half (10%) of your class participation grade (20%). If you would like to know your message board grade to date at any point in the semester, please ask. I will offer models of successful comments early in the semester.
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 assignments are due, or if you have questions about material we discuss in class. Please feel free to set up an appointment 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.
Students with Disabilities: At K-State it is important that every student has access to course content and the means to demonstrate course mastery. Students with disabilities may benefit from services including accommodations provided by the Student Access Center. Disabilities can include physical, learning, executive functions, and mental health. You may register at the Student Access Center (k-state.edu/accesscenter) or to learn more contact. If you are a student enrolled in campus/online courses through the Manhattan, Olathe, or Global campuses, contact the Student Access Center at email@example.com, 785-532-6441; for K-State Polytechnic campus, contact Academic and Student Services at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 785-826-2974. Students already registered with the Student Access Center: please request your Letters of Accommodation early in the semester to provide adequate time to arrange your approved academic accommodations. Once SAC approves your Letter of Accommodation it will be e-mailed to you, and your instructor(s) for this course. Please follow up with your instructor to discuss how best to implement the approved accommodations.
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.
Mutual Respect and Inclusion in K-State Teaching and Learning Spaces: At K-State, faculty and staff are committed to creating and maintaining an inclusive and supportive learning environment for students from diverse backgrounds and perspectives. K-State courses, labs, and other virtual and physical learning spaces promote equitable opportunity to learn, participate, contribute, and succeed, regardless of age, race, color, ethnicity, nationality, genetic information, ancestry, disability, socioeconomic status, military or veteran status, immigration status, Indigenous identity, gender identity, gender expression, sexuality, religion, culture, as well as other social identities.
Faculty and staff are committed to promoting equity and believe the success of an inclusive learning environment relies on the participation, support, and understanding of all students. Students are encouraged to share their views and lived experiences as they relate to the course or their course experience, while recognizing they are doing so in a learning environment in which all are expected to engage with respect to honor the rights, safety, and dignity of others in keeping with the K-State Principles of Community at https://www.k-state.edu/about/values/community/.If you feel uncomfortable because of comments or behavior encountered in this class, you may bring it to the attention of your instructor, advisors, and/or mentors. If you have questions about how to proceed with a confidential process to resolve concerns, please contact the Student Ombudsperson Office. Violations of the student code of conduct can be reported here https://www.k-state.edu/sga/judicial/student-code-of-conduct.html. If you experience bias or discrimination, it can be reported here https://www.k-state.edu/report/discrimination/.
Conceal Carry Statement: In this class, students will be asked on a regular basis to participate in activities (i.e., engaging in group work) that may require students to either be separated from their bags or be prepared to keep their bags with them at all times during such activities. Students are encouraged to take the online weapons policy education module <http://www.k-state.edu/police/weapons/index.html> to ensure they understand the requirements related to concealed carry.
Wearing of Face Coverings: Kansas State University strongly encourages, but does not require, that everyone wear masks while indoors on university property, including while attending in-person classes. For additional information and the latest on K-State’s face covering policy, see https://www.k-state.edu/covid-19/guidance/health/face-covering.html.
Note: All assigned reading/viewing should be completed by the date listed.
[CP] = Online Class Pack. [W] = Web.
|January||17||McLeod, from Postcolonial London (1-9); Bennett, "Colonisation in Reverse" (1966); Soyinka, "Telephone Conversation" (1960); Larkin, "Church Going" (1955); Adcock, "Instead of an Interview" (1979) [readings distributed by email in advance of class]|
“How come England did not know me?”: Isolation, Rebellion, Integration
|26||Levy, Small Island (2003) (1-278)
Historical background: Phillips, from A New World Order (241-46, 264-282); Phillips and Phillips, from Windrush (26-103) [CP]
Response Paper #1 due (2 pages) on Levy due to Canvas by start of class
|31||• Levy, Small Island (281-438)
Selected reviews for Levy's Small Island [CP]; "Recording Andrea Levy for Authors’ Lives" [W]
Discussion Questions: Levy, Small Island
• Selvon, from Ways of Sunlight (1957) (125-138; 161-166; 175-188); Ball, “Immigration and Postwar London Literature” (222-40); McLeod, from Postcolonial London (1-40); Phillips and Phillips, from Windrush (158-180) [CP]
|February||7 [A]||• Sillitoe, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1958)
• Selected poems: Larkin, Harrison [CP]
|14||Selected poems: Raine, Heaney, Hughes, Adcock, and Cope [CP]
Response Paper #2 due (2 pages) on your choice of an assigned poem due to Canvas by start of class
|21||• The Prisoner (1967-8, selected episodes); critical reading on The Prisoner [CP]|
Paper #1 due (4 pages) by 11:59 p.m. M.L.A. documentation format.
|28||• A Riot of One's Own: Punk and Protest, with guest speakers Phil Nel and Tim Dayton; Marcus, "Anarchy in U.K." (1980); selected songs [CP]; optional: We are Lady Parts (2021, Season 1)
• Churchill, Cloud 9 (1978)
Selected reviews for Churchill's Cloud 9 [CP]
(Re)Writing the Past, Imagining the Future
|March||7||Winterson, Sexing the Cherry (1989)
Selected reviews for Winterson's Sexing the Cherry; Winterson, from Art Objects (26-44); "Interview with Jeanette Winterson" (11-29); Wasserstrom, "Are You Now or Have You Ever Been ... Postmodern?"; Hutcheon, from The Politics of Postmodernism (1-7, 47-54, 71-78) [CP]
Response Paper #3 due (2 pages) on Winterson due to Canvas by start of class
Class Discussion Questions: Winterson, Sexing the Cherry
|21 [A]||Smith, White Teeth (2000) (1-256)|
|28||Smith, White Teeth (257-448)
Selected reviews for Smith's White Teeth; Head, "Zadie Smith's White Teeth: Multiculturalism for the Millennium" (106-119) [CP]
Response Paper #4 due (2 pages) on Smith
Class Discussion Questions: Smith, White Teeth
|April||4||• Bend it Like Beckham (2002)
• Heartstopper (2022)
Discussion Questions: Heartstopper
|F 7||Prospectus (1 p.) for Paper #2 due by 11:59 p.m.|
|11||• Sherlock (Season 1: 2010)
Discussion Questions: Sherlock
• Bartlett, King Charles III (2014)
|18||• Stoppard, Arcadia (1993) (1-97)
• Bring to class your draft thesis claim for Paper #2
|25||• Rosoff, How I Live Now (2004); reviews, interviews, critical readings on Rosoff [CP]
• Wheatle, Crongton Knights (2017); optional: Alex Wheatle (2020), from the Small Axe film series
Selected interviews with Wheatle by Claire Armitstead (17 Nov 2016) and with Homa Khaleeli (18 Nov 2016); Wheatle on Tolkien's influence (15 March 2016) and creating the world of Crongton (25 Oct 2016) [W]
Class Discussion Questions: Wheatle, Crongton Knights.
|May||2||• Paddington (2015)
Selected reviews and critical readings [CP]
• Selected poems: John Agard, "Windrush Welcome" (1998), "Uncle Mo Steps Out" (1998), "Remember the Ship" (1998); Benjamin Zephaniah, "What Stephen Lawrence Has Taught Us" (1998); Fleur Adcock, "Immigrant" (1979) and "Instead of an Interview" (1979); Jackie Kay, "In My Country" (1993); Moniza Alvi, "Arrival 1946"(1993); Merle Collins, "Visiting Yorkshire -- Again" (1992) and "When Britain Had Its GREAT" (1992); Childs, from The Twentieth Century in Poetry (180-204) [CP]
• Coda: McLeod, from Postcolonial London (189-194); Phillips, from A New World Order (303-309) [CP]
|9||Final Reflection due by 9:00 p.m.|