In this course students will:
· apply and further develop the knowledge that you previously acquired about textual analysis and literary theory;
· acquire the critical and theoretical tools to analyse works of contemporary British fiction from a variety of thematic angles;
· gain a solid understanding of the workings of the British literary field and the role that institutions like the Man Booker Prize play;
· form critical opinions about the supposed demise of the British novel and contribute to the current debate about this topic;
· participate actively in group discussions in class and on Brightspace;
· independently apply the knowledge gained during the course in a take home exam.
On May 2 of 2014 author Will Self published an article in The Guardian which contained the following ominous statement: "The novel is dead (this time it's for real). Literary fiction used to be central to the culture. No more: in the digital age, not only is the physical book in decline, but the very idea of 'difficult' reading is being challenged. The future of the serious novel ... is as a specialised interest." Self is not the only person to proclaim the demise of the novel form, nor is he the first: pessimistic pronouncements like these go back many decades. At the same time, there appears to be plenty of evidence to support the claim that British fiction is vibrant and alive. The publicity circus generated every year by the Man Booker Prize would, for instance, definitely seem to suggest as much.|
In this course we will join the debate about the state of British fiction today by analysing a selection of novels from a variety of thematic angles. In the analysis of these texts we will build on the skills of textual analysis and literary theory that you acquired and developed in the courses Reading Literature and British Literature and Culture of the 19th and 20th Century. We will try and take the pulse of current British fiction by asking such questions as: which themes are contemporary authors concerned with, and why? In what narratological forms do they express them? What can the investigation of their critical reception tell us about their status and relevance, and the state of British fiction in general?