English 3


First semester

English 3A: From Modernism to the Contemporary (32 credits). The course is made up of two separate modules of 16 credits each: ENGL301 and ENGL308.English majors must take both modules.

Second semester

English 3B: South/African Texts (32 credits). The course is made up of two separate modules of 16 credits each: ENGL306 and ENGL303. English majors must take both modules. Both E3A and E3B are designed to guide students towards an advanced understanding of contemporary English Studies. The courses blend three major areas of emphasis that have come to be associated with the discipline, namely, Literature, Culture and Writing.

The Literature emphasis considers the reading of literature and aspects of literary history.

The Culture emphasis situates literature in relation to film, art, autobiography, built environment and so on.

The Writing emphasis links the critical reading of texts with the skills of academic expression and creative writing.

ENGL301 Modernisms (16-credit course)

Lecturers: Prof I Dimitriu, Drs M Shum and Kobus Moolman, and Anand Naidoo

Prescribed Texts

  • Virginia Woolf: To the Lighthouse
  • William Faulkner: As I Lay Dying
  • Course Reader and Anthologies (Kafka’s short stories, Eliot’s poetry, and Reading for Writing: poetry )

This module explores different tendencies within ‘modernism’. It considers a number of texts usually classified as canonically ‘modernist’, and a range of related theoretical, philosophical and historical material. At the beginning of the twentieth century, many modernist writers and intellectuals shared a sense of disillusionment with the failed promises of ‘Enlightenment’ modernity: humanism, rationality, science, self-determination, the free market, private property, the nation state, and progress…all were felt to have failed.

We shall also attempt to understand modernism (which is not to be confused with modernity) in relation to processes of socioeconomic progress at the turn of the twentieth century. Modernisation – with its massive technological advances, industrial upheavals, as well as the vast urban expansions and mass movements within nation-states – left its mark on the visions and values of the time, visions that have come to be loosely grouped together under the name ‘modernism’.

While celebrating the impact on contemporary life of modernization – the sense of enlargement and exhilaration, the seemingly endless potential for material development and improvability – modernist thinkers at the same time drew attention to the price paid for machine-built civilisation: a brutally alienated and atomised society, profound individual disorientation and insecurity. In attempting to respond to the rapid rhythm of material change, including its social chaos and moral crisis, writers began to experiment boldly with language as maker of reality. This ‘Revolution of the Word’ prompts important questions about the nature of language – its psychology, its metaphorical significance – in its relation to the external world. Is the modernist concern with innovatory modes of aesthetic expression (e.g. complex, often disjunctive narrative structures, masks of ambiguity, symbols of the unconscious) a daring and imaginative ‘ordering’ of experience or an aggravation of moral and societal uncertainty? Is the modernist crisis of language a reflection of social crisis, and if so, is the modernist sense of experimentation an inevitable and legitimate cultural pursuit? Paradox became a defining characteristic of modernist conduct and art.

Through important modernist short stories, novels and poems – by Kafka, Woolf, Faulkner and Eliot – we are going to analyse the modernist dynamic of aesthetic renewal within the anxieties of social change. Throughout the module, students will be expected to develop their ability to read the work of established authors in a ‘writerly’ way so as to turn their reading skills towards the challenges of good writing. The written tasks include the academic essay, as well as creative writing in the genre of poetry.

ENGL301 Modernisms


Lectures in L1:Mon (6), Wed (1), Thu (8&9) & Fri (7) Texts/Topics Seminars in L1 Tue (4&5) Topics

Mon 6 February Business Meeting 7 Feb No seminar
Thu 9 Modernism/s (ID)

Friday 10 Kafka 1 (ID)

Monday 13 Kafka 2 Tue 14 Kafka
Thu 16 Kafka 3 & 4

Friday 17 Kafka 5

Monday 20 Lighthouse 1 (ID) Tue 21 Lighthouse
Thu 23 Lighthouse 2 & 3
Friday 24 Lighthouse 4
Monday 27 Lighthouse 5 Tue 28 Eliot (MS)
Thu 1 March Eliot 1 & 2 (MS)

Friday 2 Eliot 3

Monday 5 Eliot 4 6 March Eliot 5
Thu 8 As I Lay Dying 1 & 2 (AN)

Friday 9 As I Lay Dying 3

Monday 12 As I Lay Dying 4 Tue 13 As I Lay Dying
Thu 15 As I Lay Dying 5

Friday 16 Reading for Writing: poetry 1 (KM) Tue 20 Poetry
Monday 19 Reading for Writing: poetry 2

Thu 22 Reading for Writing: poetry 3&4

Friday 23 Reading for Writing: poetry 5

Monday 26 Tue 27 Test


1 Kafka 20%
2 Woolf 20%
3 Eliot 20%
Exam As I Lay Dying and Reading for Writing: poetry 40%

ENGL308 Contemporary Literature & Culture (16-credit course)

Lecturers: Prof Judith Coullie, Dr M Shum, Dr E Mkhatshwa and Anand Naidoo

Prescribed Texts

  • Film Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang
  • Cormac McCarthy The Road
  • Roland Barthes Roland Barthes by Roland Barthes
  • Dambudzo Marechera House of Hunger
  • Course Reader (supplied on registration)

In the first section of the course, we examine the phenomenon of the postmodern, using its most typical form: the visual. We look at the film, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, which collages mainstream Hollywood film with consumer culture, using narrative constructions and directorial techniques reminiscent of avant-garde film directors of the 1960s. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang’s combination of the ‘radical’ and the popular, its endless referentiality, its deliberate and playful contrivance and its obsession with surface and image mark the film as typically postmodern.

A further aspect of the contemporary is addressed in The Road. This 2006 novel by American writer Cormac McCarthy offers a post-apocalyptic reading of the present. The narrative follows the journey of a father and his young son over a period of several months, as they cross a landscape blasted by an unnamed cataclysm that has destroyed all civilization and, apparently, almost all life on earth.

In such an environment, what space might be claimed for the writer, and the writing of ‘the self’? We tackle this question using the conceptually and formally provocative work of Roland Barthes. Having announced “The Death of the Author” (1968), Roland Barthes then set out to write an autobiography – by definition, an author-centred genre. In Roland Barthes by Roland Barthes we encounter self-representation through the blind-spot, as im/possible project.

Dambudzo Marechera, (1952-1987), was a Zimbabwean novelist who won critical acclaim for his collection of stories entitled The House of Hunger (1978) a powerful account of life in his country under white rule.

ENGL308 Contemporary Literature & Culture


Lectures in L1:Mon (6), Wed (1), Thu (8&9) & Fri (7) Texts/Topics Seminars in L1 Tue (4&5) Topics
Monday 26 Kiss Kiss Bang Bang 1 (AN)

Thursday 29 Screening
Friday 30 Kiss Kiss … 2
Thursday 12=Mon Kiss Kiss … 3 10 April Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
Friday 13 April Kiss Kiss … 4

Monday 16 Kiss Kiss … 5
Thursday 19 The Road 1 (MS) 17 April TEST: Kiss, Kiss
Friday 20 The Road 2
Monday 23 The Road 3
Thursday 26 The Road 4 & 5 24 April The Road
Thursday 3 May Roland Barthes 1 & 2 (JC)
Monday 7 Roland Barthes 3

Thu 10 Roland Barthes 4 & 5 8 May Roland Barthes
Friday 11 House of Hunger 1 (EM)

Monday 14 House of Hunger 2
Thu 17 House of Hunger 3 & 4 15 May House of Hunger
Friday 18 House of Hunger 5


1: Test: Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang 17 April 25%
2: Essay: The Road due 3 May 25%
3: Exam: Roland Barthes and The House of Hunger 50%

ENGL306 South/African Literatures (16-credit course)

Lecturers: Profs P Narismulu, Lindy Stiebel and Dr E Mkhatshwa

Prescribed Texts

  • Joseph Conrad Heart of Darkness
  • Zakes Mda Heart of Redness
  • Chinua Achebe Anthills of the Savannah
  • Course Reader Reading for Writing (short fiction), and Women’s Poetry

This module places the fictional representation of Africa within the political and cultural phenomenon known, in its various phases, as colonialism, anti-colonialism, post-colonialism and neo-colonialism. In following the history of this phenomenon, the module begins with late 19th century writings about Africa which express the European colonizers’ view of the continent. Then, Joseph Conrad’s fictional representation of his experiences in central Africa, Heart of Darkness, will be read both for his disgust at what he saw of colonization and for the ways in which traces of self-justifying concepts such as the ‘primitive other’ and ‘modernity, civilization and progress’ nevertheless had a hold on his imagination.

Following this, we read Heart of Redness by Zakes Mda. This novel is based on the ‘killing of the cattle’ in the 19th century Eastern Cape, yet Mda extends the reach of the historical occurrence into imagined events in the present, neo-colonial Eastern Cape. Themes of power, loyalty, ‘othering’, gender and spiritual belief are central to the study, yet the text is also marked by a robust humour. Thereafter, we turn to Chinua Achebe’s Anthills of the Savannah. Set in Nigeria, this novel represents the country some four decades after independence, and we will examine the representation of political power and of corruption, as well as the role of women as both social agents and as fictional devices.

This interest in women is extended in the section on African Women’s Poetry. A range of poems from countries as diverse as Ghana, Algeria, Mozambique, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Tunisia and South Africa will be used to examine themes such as postcolonialism, experiments with agency, and traditional systems of patriarchy.

Throughout the course, the extensive emphasis on critical reading informed by an awareness of literary technique is intended to train students in developing their ability to read the work of established authors in a writerly way. Students will be expected to produce several written tasks, among them the academic essay and creative writing in the genre of short fiction.


The first class meeting is on 23 July at 12h20 in L1

Lectures in L1:Mon (6) Thu (8&9) & Fri (7) Texts/Topics Seminars in L1 Tue (4&5) Topics
Mon 23 July Business Meeting 24 July Heart of Darkness 1 & 2
Thursday 26 Heart of Darkness 3 & 4

Friday 27 Heart of Darkness 5

Monday 30 Heart of Redness 1 31 July Heart of Darkness
Thursday 2 August Heart of Redness 2 & 3

Friday 3 Heart of Redness 4

Monday 6 Heart of Redness 5 7 August Heart of Redness
Friday 10 Anthills 1

Monday 13 Anthills 2 14 August Anthills of the Savannah
Thursday 16 Anthills 3 & 4

Friday 17 Anthills 5
Monday 20 Women’s Poetry 1 22 August Women’s Poetry
Thursday 23 Women’s Poetry 2 & 3

Friday 24 Women’s Poetry 4

Monday 27 Women’s Poetry 5 28 August TEST
Thursday 30 Short Fiction 1/ 2
Friday 31 Short Fiction 3
Monday 3 Sept Short Fiction 4 4 Sept Short Fiction
Thursday 6 Short Fiction 5


1: Heart of Darkness 20%
2: The Heart of Redness 20%
3: Anthills of the Savannah 20%
4: Reading for Writing: short fiction 20%
5: African Women’s Poetry 20%

ENGL303 Literature and Journalism (16-credit course)

Lecturers: Profs L Stiebel, I Dimitriu, S Murray, Drs C Sandwith and K Moolman

Prescribed Texts

  • Nadine Gordimer A World of Strangers
  • Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Half of a Yellow Sun
  • Antjie Krog Country of My Skull
  • Course Reader Reading for Writing: Drama

Whether in newspapers, magazines, books or television coverage, journalism influences much of what we think and know about our societies and ourselves. In shaping their ‘stories’, in conveying their ‘facts’, journalists use many of the techniques of literary discourse. At the same time, some of the most challenging contemporary developments in literature have involved journalistic techniques and principles. In this module, we encourage students to think, speak and write in informed ways about the ‘sociological’, the ‘literary’, the ‘creative’ and the ‘documentary’.
Throughout the course, the extensive emphasis on critical reading informed by an awareness of expressive technique is intended to train students in developing their ability to read the work of established authors in a writerly way. Students will be expected to produce several written tasks, among them an academic essay and a piece of creative writing.

Duly Performed Requirements for 2012

In order to be permitted to write the final exam, a student must be considered by the Department of English to have ‘duly performed’ (DP) in the English Studies module for which s/he is registered.

You secure your DP by submitting, on time, all the written work required for the module.

If you fail to meet these requirements:

  • your DP will be refused
  • your name will appear on the DP Refusal list as DPR
  • you will be denied entrance to the exam.

Concerning attendance

Poor attendance at classes may influence your final result, as your attendance record may be taken into consideration by examiners. For instance, if your overall mark for the course is 48% and the department finds that you have very irregular attendance, it is highly unlikely that a pass will be condoned.

Clearly, it is important to attend classes, and to sign the attendance register.

In addition, note that your overall course profile is referred for further assessment to the internal moderator and/or external examiner.

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