Decadence And The Modern ENGLIT5012

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Critical Studies
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Either Semester 1 or Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

This course examines the particular values associated with being 'modern' from the middle of the nineteenth century to the first decades of the twentieth century and the role played by the concept of decadence in shaping literary understandings of modern art and modern experience. The course starts with Matthew Arnold's 'On the Modern Element in Literature', examines the emergence of decadence in the UK and on the European continent during the fin de siècle and concludes by asking whether the Modernist writings of T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound and others was really the decisive break with the nineteenth century that some have thought.


1.5 hour seminars for 10 weeks

Requirements of Entry

Standard entry into Masters at College Level

Excluded Courses





Report on two critical sources (1500 words) due after reading week - 10%

Final Essay (3000 words) due after teaching finishes - 90%

Course Aims

The course will take an interdisciplinary approach, encouraging students to engage with a range of texts from different genres, as well as works of art and musical works. Students will be invited to consider the differences between these forms and genres, whilst also making broader connections to broader literary movements and discourses, specifically Decadence and its relation to writers' commitment to the idea of the modern. The course also explores important connections between the works of English writers and broader nineteenth century European literary and artistic movements.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of the course, students will be able to:

■ Express a critical understanding of the key concepts of the Modern and Decadence and their role within Victorian and early Modernist culture

■ Analyse literary texts, paying close attention to form

■ Engage with the historical and cultural contexts of literary texts, including late Victorian scientific theory

■ Demonstrate an awareness of different literary genres (including poems, critical essays, novels and fantastic texts) and the connections between them

■ Place their readings of English literary texts in wider European contexts.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.