ENG329H1F - L5101

Contemporary British Fiction


Monday 6 pm - 9 pm


S. Salih

Brief Description of Course

During this half-year course we will be studying novels by writers based in Britain whose work addresses notions of ‘Britishness’ through the medium of fictional history and, in the case of Sebald, via investigations into memory and memorializing. All of the novels on the syllabus are to some extent preoccupied with one or both of the world wars and the ways in which these events shaped ideas about nationality, national belonging and nationalism, preoccupations which continue into the present-day. In their fictionalizations of the past, each of these novels engages with questions of nationality, ethnicity, gender, class and sexuality, and these in turn press upon notions of Britishness. In our discussions, we will think about the unstable nature of ideas of nationality and the ways in which they may shift over time. We will also consider why representations of the past continue to be so popular in contemporary British fiction and the culture more broadly, and we will discuss the ways such representations may or may not hold a mirror up to the present.

Required Reading(s)

Pat Barker, Regeneration; Andrea Levy, Small Island;  Ian McEwan, Atonement; Kazuo Ishiguro, The Remains of the Day; W.G. Sebald, The Rings of Saturn. (READINGS SUBJECT TO CHANGE).

First Three Authors/Texts

Barker, Levy, McEwan

Method of Evaluation

  • Essay abstract (25%)
  • Abstract workshop (5%)
  • Mid-term essay (45%)
  • In-class essay (25%)