Course Instructor Days Times Room
ENGL4675 PARKES, ADAM MW 1 :25 PM 0145


This course offers an introduction to some of the most beautiful and powerful works of fiction written by contemporary British writers.  Reading works written in the realist tradition together with experimental texts, our primary goal will be to explore ways in which novelists of the twenty?first century have engaged with our historical moment.  We will consider how far themes of class, money, status, family, and marriage continue to shape the English novel as an artistic form, as well as discussing the literary consequences of issues that loom large in the contemporary world, such as global finance, immigration, multiculturalism, and national and international identity.  We will also think about how fiction strives to reshape these materials and sometimes to resist them.  Another recurrent theme will be the question of how twenty-first-century fiction responds to the historical and aesthetic legacies of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.  Secondary readings will be introduced at various junctures.  Detailed attention will also be paid to student writing.  

Students planning to take the course are encouraged to read ahead during the winter break.  Especially recommended for pre-semester perusal are the first three books (and three of the longest) that we will study -- Atonement, The Line of Beauty, and On Beauty -- as well as the last (and longest of all), Lanchester's Capital.


1.  Preparation, participation, and sundry informal assignments.  

2.  Formal writing assignments (see below).  


1.  Two 2-page papers, one 3-page paper, and a 5-page paper, all on assigned topics.

2.  A final research paper of 8-10 pages on a topic of your own devising.  This will require reading a second novel by your primary author together with relevant critical literature.


Short essays: 60%.  Final paper: 40%.  Participation will affect final grades at the instructor's discretion.




Alan Hollinghurst, The Line of Beauty (Bloomsbury, 2005).

Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go (Vintage, 2006).

Pat Barker, Border Crossing (Picador, 2017).

John Lanchester, Capital (Norton, 2012).

Tom McCarthy, Remainder (Vintage, 2007).

Ian McEwan, Atonement (Anchor, 2003).

Zadie Smith, On Beauty (Penguin, 2006).

Recommended: M.H. Abrams, A Glossary of Literary Terms (Wadsworth, 2011).