Study Abroad and Exchanges



SEL3375 : Cultures of Decadence: From the Wilde 90s to the Jazz Age (Inactive)

Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


The period from the 1890s to the 1920s in Britain and America was characterised by artistic and social rebellion. The Decadents of the 1890s, led by Oscar Wilde, revolted against Victorian gentility in their endorsement of sexual and social transgression. Their art and hedonistic lifestyles exploited and heightened anxieties about the degeneration of Western culture. This revolt against Victorian values and ideals continued into the twentieth century up through the First World War, the consequence of which was another era of decadence and excess -- the 1920s.

In exploring the literature of this period, the module has four principal aims. First, it will consider the relationship between the subversive subject matter of the literature (sexual transgression, drug and alcohol abuse, challenges to gender roles) and the innovative and experimental styles being developed by writers at this time. Second, it will take up the treatment of the issues by canonical and non-canonical writers across a range of genres. Third, it will explore the complex relationship between these two periods: how, for example, 1890s Decadence anticipates and serves as an important influence on Jazz Age literature and culture. Fourth, in contrasting canonical and non-canonical writers and texts, the module will prompt students to engage with ongoing debates about notions of literary value, processes of canonisation, and the relationship between high and popular culture.

Some of the writers will be familiar to students, while others will not. Typical examples might include Oscar Wilde, Marie Corelli (a globally popular best-selling writer of this period), T. S. Eliot, James Joyce, Katherine Mansfield, Dorothy Parker, Virginia Woolf, Claude McKay, A. S. M. Hutchinson (best-selling author of the 1920s), and Cole Porter. Genres covered include Decadent poetry and fiction; high Modernist poetry and fiction; "middlebrow" fiction and "bestsellers"; "Jazz" poetry; "Tin Pan Alley" jazz and the Blues; "Harlem Renaissance" (African-American) literature; "little magazines" (avant-garde periodicals) and "slicks" (popular magazines).

Outline Of Syllabus

The material ion the module comes from the late-Victorian period and the Modernist period, canonical and non-canonical texts.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture121:0012:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion140:0040:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading180:0080:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching122:0024:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops12:002:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyStudent-led group activity110:0010:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study132:0032:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures provide students with an intellectual map of the the module, introduce contextual information, and guide their private study. In research groups and seminars, set tasks and questions help students deepen their understanding of the material, develop research skills, and work with others. Extensive private study is essential to allow students to undertake careful independent reading of the primary and secondary materials the module studies.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Research paper2A60Research essay or project. 2500 words or equivalent.
Research paper2M403 options: 1. Based on primary research on databases 2. Materiality of texts 3. presentation w ppt
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The distribution of assessment forms supports the School's overall assessment strategy and allows the students to demonstrate different strengths while balancing their workload over the course of the module. the mid-module assessment is an opportunity for students to engage with intensively with methodologies/approaches/material that is unfamiliar (history of the book, materiality of texts, periodical studies). The research essay or project allows for the development of a critical and independent understanding of the course material.

Reading Lists