The University of Sheffield, Western Bank, Sheffield, S10 2TN, UK
LIT287 : Terrorism and Modern Literature
Dr Alex Houen
Please note: This module may or may not run in any given semester. Please check with the tutor.
'What terrorists gain, novelists lose. The degree to which they influence mass consciousness is the extent of [novelists'] decline as shapers of sensibility'
(Don DeLillo, Mao II).
After the September 11 attacks, a number of writers voiced their dismay as to what literature could do and say in response to such events. Yet the literary engagement with terrorism goes back a long way. In this module, we’ll be looking at a range of responses to terrorists and terrorism starting with the late Victorian period and ending with the recent terrorist attacks of 11 Sept 2001 in NYC and those of 11 July 2005 in London. The aim is to examine the diversity
of responses. Topics will include: Joseph Conrad on Victorian anarchism; George Orwell on state terror; Don DeLillo on postmodernism and hostage taking; Seamus Heaney on the 'Troubles'; in Northern Ireland; ‘suicide bombers’; and recent fictions and poetry responding to the September 11 attacks. We'll also be exploring more general literary questions: how have modern writers engaged with politics and violence; can violence be a form of communication itself? Questioning the literary texts in relation to historical contexts is specifically intended to consolidate research skills needed for your other core (period) modules.
Teaching will consist of two one-hour seminars per week. The first will consist of a minilecture and/or group-work. The second will be focused on close-reading of the text, building on discussions from the first seminar.
- Assessment 1 is worth 10% of your total module mark and is based on short written responses to the weekly readings. In advance of the second seminar each week you must post a response to the set reading on the module's WebCT Bulletin Board (on the home page). The response should be around 200 words, can be in good note form, and should explore a particular issue that interests you. You should also include reference to at least a couple of sections of the text(s) (giving page nos.). The responses will be used to build discussion in the second seminar, so do bring a copy of your response along to the class. Responses will be returned in class the following week with brief comments. You must post at least 9 responses in total over the course of the semester. The mark for this assessment will be calculated in Week 12 from your best 7 responses overall.
- Assessment 2 counts for 40% of the whole module mark and is an essay/research exercise of 2000 words.
- Assessment 3 counts for 50% of the total mark and is an essay of 3000 words. The essay will require you to discuss at least two authors and two texts in relation to the terrorism with which they are engaging.
Assessment deadlines will be issued at the start of the semester.
Dr Alex Houen, tel: +44 (0)114-222-8476
Information last changed: Monday 10th of August 2015 :: 12:40:20 PM (BST)