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SEL3449 : Devolutionary Fictions: Literature, Politics, and the British State since 1960

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Chloe Ashbridge
  • 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 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System


This module traces the relationship between the British state and literary production since 1960. Placing an emphasis on ideological contexts of literary publication, marketisation, and reception, Devolutionary Fictions considers the political function of literary texts during a period of national instability. The module will therefore ask how challenges to the British state have been registered culturally. Students will pay close attention to developments in narrative style and form - including social realism, the demotic mode, the historical novel – as well as the ways in which the cultural industries have been inflected with government agendas. In doing so, students will gain in-depth knowledge of the intertwining of literature and politics in Britain since 1960. Topics may include but are not limited to: Scottish devolution and the post-Thatcher novel; multiculturalism and Black British writing; English regionalism and book prize culture; and the cultural and creative industries (particularly Northern publishing).

Outline Of Syllabus

The module may include texts by Irvine Welsh, Janice Galloway, Sarah Hall, Caryl Phillips, Ben Myers, and Fiona Mozley, among others. Owing to the module’s focus on cultural institutions, key ‘texts’ may also include short fiction anthologies, literary festivals, and archival material pertaining to book prizes.
Indicative critical frameworks include Marxist cultural materialism, cultural geography, publishing and the creative economy, and literary devolution.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion130:0030:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture111:0011:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching112:0022:00N/A
Structured Guided LearningStructured research and reading activities184:0084:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery13:003:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyStudent-led group activity120:0020:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study130:0030:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Eleven lectures introduce students to the historical context and theoretical perspectives needed to interpret each of the texts or sources.

Small group seminars enable a detailed focus on these sources that support students in developing their understanding and interpretations of those texts.

Student-led group activities allow students to share their findings from lectures and reading with their peers and build a strong foundation for seminar discussion.

One three-hour drop in session will be scheduled to deliver additional consultation hours for students at assessment times.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Oral Presentation2M1525 minute group activity / presentation (to be delivered in class) Alternative assessment (in case of PEC): 5 minutes individual recorded activity / presentation.
Essay2A853,500-word comparative essay
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

In-class group activity / presentation

This mid-module assessment component asks students to work in groups to develop a 25 minute in-class presentation on a text and/or topic of their choice. All presentations should include an interactive component in which students actively facilitate the learning of their peers by designing and leading a learning activity.
This assessment will enable students to develop their expertise as independent researchers by asking them to choose and develop a focus which reflects their interests. They will also develop their skills in group work and oral communication, which are particularly relevant to possible future careers.

Where students are unable to participate in the group activity (in case of PEC only) they will practice similar skills but on an individual basis. In place of skills in group work, this alternative assessment will develop students' ability to disseminate information to other through audio or video communication.

Comparative essay

The end-of-module assessment enables students to build on their learning via a comparative essay on two module texts, including the opportunity to design their own research question. Students will extend their close reading skills into a broader argument placing two literary works within their cultural and political contexts of production and reception. Students will also develop skills in independent research by creating an essay question which reflects their interests.

Reading Lists