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SEL3429 : Deep North: Modern Literature of the North East

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Alex Niven
  • Owning School: English Lit, Language & Linguistics
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
  • Capacity limit: 48 student places

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

Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System


This module will chart the development of a distinctive cultural imaginary in the North East of England from 1900 to the present, through study of its novels, poems, plays, films and political writings.

The North East is one of the historic birthplaces of literacy in the British Isles, though it has also often been marginalised from the centralised culture of the English literary establishment. This module will explore the fate of North East writing (in the broadest sense) from the post-Victorian era to the twenty-first century, a time when the region's slow industrial decline was offset by a series of experiments in imaginative idealism, energetic realism and countercultural eccentricity.

We will try to assess whether the modern history of North East cultural production offers any clues as to how the region and its people might move forward in the socially, environmentally and constitutionally vexed climate of the twenty-first century. We will also try to work out how such subjects affect our own status as temporary, putative or permanent citizens of Newcastle and its environs.

NB: For the purposes of this module, "the North East of England" is defined as the historic counties of Northumberland (plus Newcastle/Tyneside), County Durham (including modern Wearside and parts of modern Teesside) and the Teesside portion of Yorkshire (i.e. Middlesbrough and its environs).

Outline Of Syllabus

Authors for study may include Pat Barker, Basil Bunting, Peter Flannery, Lee Hall, Jessica Andrews, Barry MacSweeney, Richard Dawson and Jack Common, and topics of study may include suffragism, the stereotype of the kitchen-sink writer, de- and post-industrialisation, the Miners’ Strike, the Northumbrian Weird, the multi-racial experiment of World Headquarters nightclub, Viz magazine, the North-East millennial novel and the poetic counterculture of 1960s Newcastle.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion140:0040:00N/A
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials111:0011:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading180:0080:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching112:0022:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyStudent-led group activity111:0011:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery111:0011:00Online/in-person and optional
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study125:0025:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The lectures introduce students to textual, biographical and critical debates surrounding texts, providing introductory readings of relevant poems, crucial pieces of information and an overall map to guide students in their independent study. The seminars build on the lectures, independent study and study group discussions, allowing students to reflect on their reading in a participatory group environment and hone their analytical skills by way of group close reading exercises.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written exercise1A1004000-word comparative and critical essay
Formative Assessments

Formative Assessment is an assessment which develops your skills in being assessed, allows for you to receive feedback, and prepares you for being assessed. However, it does not count to your final mark.

Description Semester When Set Comment
Written exercise1MPreparation for final assessment
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The 4000-word essay encourages students to secure their knowledge and skills outcomes as outlined above, by way of a comparative reading of two or more primary texts.

The formative assessment will consist of a form of draft material (for example a detailed plan, draft or essay introduction); it will prepare students for the long final essay and allow them to receive feedback on their ideas as they are gestating.

Reading Lists