World Literature in London
This course allows students to experience the literature of the modern world. Through extensive reading and critical writing, students will gain insight into the forces that continue to shape literature and culture around the world. An essay, reflections, discussions and projects will be required.
The period covered will extend from 1789 to present-day literature. A selection of prose works and poetry from various countries and traditions will form the core of the course. Representative texts by key writers such as Charles Dickens, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Virginia Woolf, Haruki Murakami, Walt Whitman and Salman Rushdie will feature on the syllabus. The range of work aims at uncovering themes and concepts which recur across a wide range of cultures and extend across various historical time frames. London as a great world city and London’s impact on world literature will feature at various points during the course. Students will be encouraged to take advantage of London’s literary heritage and museums as part of their research.
Students will be required to undertake online and library research in order to offer each other necessary context for the regions we are focusing on during a particular seminar. This will include historical background on authors and brief summaries of important social and cultural contexts.
Students will have to prepare and deliver a presentation on a specific author or literary movement chosen in consultation with their tutor.
Click on the structure tab for more details and to see what structure the lectures will follow
Week One: Empires and Revolutions
Lecture One. Empire and Revolution
The impact of European Empires on global cultures
19th century nationalism and revolution
Extracts from: Joseph Conrad: Heart of Darkness; W.B. Yeats, ‘September 1913’; ‘Easter 1916’; Ian Sinclair.
Lecture Two. End of Empire: the transition from the imperial to the post-imperial world.
Colonial and Post-colonial literatures
Extracts from Washington Irving: Rip Van Winkle; Salman Rushdie: Midnight's Children; Chinua Achebe; Things Fall Apart;
Week Two: World Literature and World Cities
Lecture One. Great Expectations I: London - the modern self in the modern city.
The impact of industrialisation on society and culture
The growth and influence of global cities such as London, New York, Bombay and Tokyo
Literature of the city
The city and the self
Extracts from Charles Dickens, Edgar Allen Poe, Virginia Woolf and T.S. Eliot
Lecture Two. Great Expectations II: The Global City
Hybridity and subjectivity
The growth and influence of global cities such as London, Cairo and Bombay
Extracts from Salman Rushdie: Midnight's Children (see Rushdie extracts from Week One); Junot Diaz, Alaa Al Aswany (The Yacoubian Building); Julia Alvarez and Amy Tan.
Week Three: Popular Culture and World Literature
Lecture One. Cowboys and Detectives: Modernity, Masculinity and Consumption
The relationship between high-brow and low-brow culture in the modern world
Modernism and Postmodernism in popular culture
Gender and popular fiction
Global literature and genre fiction
Extracts from F. Scott Fitzgerald: The Great Gatsby; Owen Wister: The Virginian; Raymond Chandler.
Lecture Two. Pulp Poetry: democratic poetics: remaking the modern world
Modernism and Poetry
Poetry and politics in the 19th and 20th Centuries
Imagism and modernism
The city and the poem
Extracts from Walt Whitman, William Carlos Williams, and Frank O'Hara
How to Apply
Tuition per 3-week course £ 1150
Accommodation per 3 week course (room only, self catering) £700
We recommend you apply early if you want accommodation in SOAS Halls of Residence.
You must complete and send back the acceptance form, and pay online as soon possible. An online receipt will be produced when you use the online payment system.
Refunds of accommodation and course fees are made only at the discretion of SOAS.
Head of Department International Foundation Courses & English Language Studies (IFCELS)
SOAS (University of London)
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A Student's Perspective
When I actually started my studies on the foundation course at SOAS, it confirmed in my mind that I had made a very good choice.