Contemporary Realisms ENGLIT5113

  • 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: No

Short Description

The course invites students to reflect on the question of realism in a specifically twenty-first century ('post-postmodern') context, in light of pressing social, environmental and geo-political events and in light of broad-scale literary and aesthetic trends. Students will also engage with earlier models of realism and associated literary, social, and theoretical concepts.


9 x 2 hour weekly seminars

1 x 2 hour lecture as scheduled on MyCampus

Requirements of Entry

Standard entry to Masters at College level


Seminar contribution 10%

Ten-minute oral presentation 10%

Essay (4000 words) 80%

Course Aims

This course will provide the opportunity to:

■ study in depth the ideological and philosophical issues surrounding the question of realism

■ encounter a range of contemporary critical-theoretical arguments

■ critically analyse the inter-relationship of formal, linguistic and thematic properties in a range of contemporary fictions

■ question the ongoing validity of traditional genre distinctions between realism and fantasy

■ think theoretically about contemporary society and the politics of form

■ develop advanced transferable skills in research and critical thinking

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

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


■ critically evaluate the ongoing suitability of realist / anti-realist distinctions to 20th and 21st century literature

■ conceptualise the broad epistemological and sociological changes surrounding the shift from postmodern irony, scepticism and anti-realism, to post-postmodern realism and "sincerity"

■ analytically discuss the inter-relation between formal and thematic traits within contemporary Anglophone fictions, with recourse to recent history and literary / critical theories of the late 20th and early 21st centuries

■ independently synthesise continuities and overlaps between literary-creative and literary-theoretical developments from the mid-twentieth century to the present day

■ demonstrate detailed knowledge of realism's relation to other literary movements and genres in the 20th century and today

■ communicate advanced responses to the material studied on the course both orally and in written form through coherent and sustained argument and apply these critical research skills elsewhere


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.