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Literature 6: Contemporary Literatures in English


Admission requirements

Successful completion of Literature 1A, 1B, 2 and 3 or 4, or equivalent.


This course offers a selection of texts from the various literatures in English of the period 1969-2010, with an emphasis on the last 15 years. We will study the work of authors like John Fowles, J.M. Coetzee, Derek Walcott, Jhumpa Lahiri, Ali Smith and Philip Roth in relation to the great shifts taking place within late 20th-century literature (e.g. Postmodernism and Postcolonialism), but also in relation to the social, political and cultural changes after World War II (with themes such as ‘feminism’, ‘race’, ‘migration and globalisation’, and ‘9/11’).

This course will extend and deepen the power of students’ literary critical analysis through in-depth consideration of texts. Students will explore critical debates central to the literature of the post-War period. The course will also aim to extend the students’ skills in the reading of narrative and the understanding of the relationship of a text to its cultural/social context. Students will be encouraged to share analytical and critical views on the texts ascribed in class discussion, including short presentations, and will focus research skills in the writing of a final essay. This essay will be on a relevant subject of their own choice within the parameters of the course, and will further extend the students’ critical skills and their ability to produce good, clear writing.

Course objectives

After having completed this course:

  • Students have insight in (the relationship between) the most important literary movements in contemporary literatures in English (1960s until the present).

  • Students can apply concepts such as postmodernism and postcolonialism and analyse contemporary texts in the light of these theories.

  • Students can analyze the texts under scrutiny within the context of relevant cultural issues and debates of the period.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

Two-hour seminar per week

Assessment method


  • Essay of 3000-3500 words; one needs to have a sufficient mark (6.0 or higher) in order to pass.

  • Mini-seminar (presentation).

  • Active classroom participation.

A sufficient grade (6.0 or higher) for classroom participation is required for completion of the course.

Attendance is compulsory. Missing more than two tutorials means that students will be excluded from the tutorials. Unauthorized absence also applies to being unprepared, not participating and/or not bringing the relevant course materials to class.


  • Essay (50%); one needs to have a sufficient mark (6.0 or higher) in order to pass.

  • Mini-seminar (presentation) (40%)

  • Active classroom participation (10%)


If the final grade is 5 or less students may only resit the insufficient course component(s). Students may not resit the participation (10%) component.

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list

  • John Fowles, The French Lieutenant’s Woman;

  • Salman Rushdie, Midnight’s Children;

  • Chimamanda Ngozi Adizhie, Americanah;

  • Derek Walcott, Omeros;

  • Margaret Atwood, Alias Grace;

  • Seamus Heaney, Seeing Things;

  • J.M. Coetzee, Disgrace;

  • Zadie Smith, White Teeth;

  • Jhumpa Lahiri, The Namesake;

  • Philip Roth, The Plot Against America;

  • Ali Smith, Autumn.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.

General information about uSis is available on the website

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Registration Studeren à la carte

Registration Contractonderwijs


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Student administration Arsenaal