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SEL3404 : High-toned, Middlebrow, and Lowdown: Jazz-Age Literature in the Magazines

  • Offered for Year: 2020/21
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Kirsten MacLeod
  • Owning School: English Lit, Language & Linguistics
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


This module introduces students to the study of literary texts within the contexts of their publications in magazines. It also invites students to consider the magazine as a literary genre in its own right that can be read and analysed similarly to a conventional literary text. The module focuses on American literature and magazines of the 1920s, a period in which most writers published in and derived significant income from magazines (including F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Dorothy Parker, and T. S. Eliot). In magazines, these writers’ works appeared alongside an array of other material – other literary content by writers known and unknown to us now; advertisements; political manifestoes; illustrations and art work; shopping and fashion tips; non-fiction material on popular fads of the day; etc. Students will be introduced to methodologies, theoretical approaches, and case studies from the disciplines of book history and periodical studies for engaging with literary texts in magazine contexts and with magazines as literary texts. Students will learn how the magazine served as a key medium for literature in this period and how reading literature in magazines is a different form of close reading and allows for different interpretations of literary texts than analysing them in isolation. They will encounter familiar canonical authors in these magazines as well as authors who were extremely popular or important to literary culture in the 1920s but are now lesser known, thereby gaining a broad understanding of the literary field of popular and “high” culture. They will explore the representation of key movements and themes through these authors and the magazines in which they appeared.

Outline Of Syllabus

In the first weeks, students will be introduced through lectures to the relevant theories and methodologies. There will also be “practical” sessions in a computer lab, learning to access and search the magazines through the various databases in which the material is held. The module will begin with a defined set of literary texts and/or themes to be read in magazine context. Later the core texts will consists of critical material which will serve as the basis for a freer and individual student-defined survey of magazine content. Set texts will include at least one canonical and one non-canonical author; set themes may include flappers, jazz, queer modernism, Harlem Renaissance, celebrity culture, consumer culture, the city; magazines studied will include popular mass-market magazines, avant-garde literary magazines, pulp magazines, and fashion and society magazines.

Teaching Methods

Module leaders are revising this content in light of the Covid 19 restrictions.
Revised and approved detail information will be available by 17 August.

Assessment Methods

Module leaders are revising this content in light of the Covid 19 restrictions.
Revised and approved detail information will be available by 17 August.

Reading Lists