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SEL3439 : North by North East

  • Offered for Year: 2022/23
  • Module Leader(s):
  • Owning School: English Lit, Language & Linguistics
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


This module charts the literary and cultural identity of Northern England in the modern and contemporary period. By placing a range of novels, plays, poetry, and music in their political contexts, we will examine the ways in which writers across the North have imaginatively engaged with the socially, environmentally and constitutionally vexed climate of twentieth and twenty-first century Britain.

While composed of several internal regions, Northern England has long occupied a position as England's 'geography of discontent', from the industrial revolution, the Jarrow March and the Miners’ Strike, to the politicised representation of Northern regions during the EU Referendum. At the same time, 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.

The module is split into two distinct halves. The first section of the module establishes the wider cultural construction of ‘the North’ as a concept, and examines various ways in which it has been mobilised in Britain's political consciousness. We will read Northern literary production in dialogue with a range of socio-political shifts, paying particular attention to: Thatcherism and deindustrialisation, gender and class politics, race and migration, land ownership and regional devolution. The second half of the module concentrates on the North-East of England in particular. We will try to assess whether North East cultural production indicates the potential for positive democratic change. 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.

Outline Of Syllabus

Authors for study may include Pat Barker, Basil Bunting, Peter Flannery, Lee Hall, Jessica Andrews, Barry MacSweeney, Sarah Hall, Sunjeev Sahota, 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 completion501:0050:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture111:0011:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching112:0022:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesFieldwork12:002:00Walking tour of central Newcastle
Guided Independent StudyStudent-led group activity91:009:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1106:00106:00N/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
Essay2M401,500 words
Essay2A602,500 words
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

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

Reading Lists