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ENGL1041 Modernity and Literary

Instructor: Dr. Jennifer McMahon

Second semester, 2017-18

6 credits
Form of assessment: 100% coursework
Thursday, 1:30-3:20pm and 3:30-4:20pm tutorial
Classroom: MB 237
Office: CRT-7.48
Office Hours: Thursdays, 11:00pm-12:00pm (or by appointment)
Prerequisite: A minimum Level 5 in English Language HKDSE exam, alternatively a C
grade in the Use of English AS-level exam, or an equivalent score in another
recognized English proficiency test.

Literary Modernism has often been characterized as an inward turn: as a growing preoccupation with

the workings of consciousness; the nature of subjective experience; and the constitution and definition

of the self. In this introductory course, we will examine notions of selfhood in modernist literature,

discussing topics such as the nature of consciousness, the unconscious and psychic conflict, subjective

perceptions of time, and changing understandings of the definition of truth. We will contextualize our

close readings in contemporary psychological and scientific research, theories of language, the rise of

urbanism and cosmopolitanism, and technological advancements. Through writing and active class

discussions, students will learn the tools of literary analysis and the skills necessary to organize their

observations into cogent analytical arguments.


 The fundamentals of narrative analysis: perspective/narration, imagery, structure,

and style

 The fundamentals of analytical essay writing

 Modernist interpretations and explorations of consciousness, language, identity,

social relations, political relations, gender relations, time and truth

 Confident ability to write an analytical essay

 Solid understanding of all of the tools of literary analysis

 Effective organization of ideas and ability to build cogent written and oral arguments

 Fluently conversant in the major ideas and predominant literary conventions of the
Modernist period


The class will meet for lecture, general discussion, and group workshops on Thursdays from 1:30 to

4:20pm. Tutorial groups will meet in the third hour. The class will be split into 2 tutorial groups (Groups

A & B). I will post group assignments after the first class with a schedule of the 4 meeting dates for each

group. Tutorial sessions will begin in the second week of the semester. In order to keep the tutorial class

size small, you may not switch groups or attend the other group’s session. We will focus on essay writing
and literary analytical skills in these tutorial sessions. A writing assignment based on the tutorial session
will be assigned after each session to reinforce skills learned and to identify areas of struggle.


Assessment is by 100% coursework, consisting of:

50% tutorial writing assignments (10% / 20% / 10% / 10%)

30% final essay

20% class work: attendance, evidence of preparation, class participation, tutorial participation, evidence
of intellectual curiosity

Kate Chopin, “Desiree’s Baby” (1893)

T.S. Eliot, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” (1915)

James Joyce, “The Dead” (1914)

Course Practices


Students are expected to arrive on time. I will start promptly at 1:30pm. If you are late, please see me

after the lecture so that I can record you as late instead of as absent. Please turn your mobile phone to

silent during the lecture. You are welcome to take notes on your computer but please do not use it for

other purposes – it’s distracting for everyone. Thoughtful and active participation during the lecture is
expected during class discussions and small group workshops.


We will use tutorials as an opportunity to clarify any concepts that need more attention and to focus on

building strong writing skills. Full attendance and participation are expected. You must attend the
tutorial session that you have been assigned.


I will post all relevant information and supplementary readings for the course on Moodle. Please check
it regularly.

Final Essay

The final essay is due May 7, 2018. If your paper is late, your grade will go down one mark per day. If
you need an extension, please email me. I will give you extra time if I can.


Plagiarism is “the unacknowledged use, as one’s own, of the work of another person, whether or not

such work has been published.” (Regulations Governing Conduct at Examinations). You cannot use
another scholar’s words or ideas or examples without giving them attribution. If you are caught

plagiarizing, you will receive an F for that assignment and may well receive an F for the class. You are

also liable to disciplinary action by the Faculty of Arts. It is a serious offense and will be treated
seriously. For more information, please see: