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SEL1035 : Revolutions

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Robbie McLaughlan
  • Owning School: English Lit, Language & Linguistics
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
  • Capacity limit: 360 student places

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System


This module builds upon the introductory work undertaken on ‘Beginnings’ to think about the developmental history of Literatures in English in an age of modernity. Beginning in the late 18th century, this module looks at how literature shapes and registers revolutionary moments and returns to the work undertaken in the first semester as we think of the term revolution as a return of sorts (the developmental history of the novel, the essay, the manifesto, etc). Revolutions asks students to be alert to the socio-economic and historical conditions from which literary production emerges and engages with, and disrupts preconceived ideas of twentieth-century writing as being the only? time of radical/formal experimentation. Students are introduced to foundational critical and methodological approaches to the study of Literatures in English that are developed further at Stages 2 and 3.

Outline Of Syllabus

The module is organised in terms of a tripartite structure (Revolutionary Forms, Industrial Revolution, Modernity as an Incomplete Project) and engages with the themes/texts taught in semester one.

Revolutionary Forms (1780-1850): This first section thinks about radical forms of writing: both the revolution in poetry introduced by William Wordsworth’s Lyrical Ballads (1800), and the rise of the novel as a form that develops alongside capitalist development and which introduces a new social class: the middle-classes.

Industrial Revolution (1850-1900): This section builds upon Lyrical Ballads and the rise of the novel to examine how the Mechanisation of the Means of Production produced new relations of production that were documented in the literature of the period in novels such as Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South, or George Eliot’s The Mill on the Floss (texts are purely indicative). This section will introduce students to critical approaches on the move from rural to urban life (Raymond Williams), the material history of the book and the impact of mass reading and growing literacy on literary production.

Modernity: An Incomplete Project (1900-Now): This final section develops the idea of modernity as an unfinished project (Habermas) in relation to modernist and post-1945 literary production. It does so in order to create a more coherent follow-through from the first module and to disrupt a sense that the twentieth century is a singular time of specifically radical forms of writing. This section also picks up the theme of ‘linguistic diversity at the heart of early writing in English’ introduced in SEL1034, by introducing students to a range of postcolonial and Black British literary texts.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture221:0022:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion135:0035:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading185:0085:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching111:0011:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyStudent-led group activity110:0010:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study137:0037:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Students will arrive to the module with a nascent understanding of University level teaching and this module builds upon the work undertaken in SEL 1034 to develop this further. Each week of teaching consists of two lectures: the first focusing on context, and the second offering a close reading/textual analysis of the primary text under discussion that week. The former situates texts in and alongside the developmental history of English Literature from 1780 to the present day, with the close reading lecture showcasing for the students on the module how to undertake high-level analytical readings of a text. Seminars provide an opportunity to reflect upon lecture and secondary material, as well as developing interpersonal and communication skills. The final lecture of the semester will be dedicated to writing skills and will be bespoke to SEL1035, while also providing paradigms which can be ported across the later stages of their degree programme.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay2M401500 words
Essay2A602500 words
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Summative Essay 1 is designed to assess students' ability to structure an argument, as well as their ability to engage with secondary material.

Summative Essay 2 is designed to assess students' ability to write a critical essay that makes an argument about the text, uses secondary criticism, and that, as part of its argument, engages with aspects of literary form and style.

Together these essays enable students to develop written communication skills and to develop their ideas about and understanding of the subject and the core academic skills of research and analysis associated with it.

Reading Lists