ENGL315-23S2 (C) Semester Two 2023

The Twentieth Century Novel

30 points

Start Date: Monday, 17 July 2023
End Date: Sunday, 12 November 2023
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Sunday, 30 July 2023
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Sunday, 1 October 2023


A comparative study of eight novels in English that reflect or have helped to shape our sense of what Isaiah Berlin called "this most terrible century in Western history". The course will examine the notion that the breakdown of families, hierarchies and nineteenth century imperial certainties contributed to the proliferation of parodic, subversive, and dystopian novels as the twentieth century progressed.

In its investigation of the novels the course will also attend to the various critical contexts – modernism, Marxism, humanism, postmodernism, post-structuralism, feminism and post-colonialism – that have helped shaped the contemporary imagination.

This course can be used towards an English major or minor. BA students who major in English would normally take at least two 100-level 15 point ENGL courses (which must include at least one of the following: ENGL117, ENGL102 or ENGL103), at least three 200-level 15 point ENGL courses, and at least two 300-level 30 point ENGL courses. Please see the BA regulations  or a student advisor for more information.

Learning Outcomes

  • In this course you will:
  • develop an ability to consider both literary and cultural ways of reading a selection of past and contemporary fiction;
  • engage with key ideas in the history and development of the novel form (as written in English);
  • become familiar with a range of novels and the conditions of their production;
  • develop an understanding of some of the historical and cultural movements that have shaped literature and literary criticism;
  • further enhance your skills as an accurate, critical, and imaginative reader of texts
  • further enhance your writing skills by constructing critical arguments, with a focus on the comparative literary analysis essay


Any 30 points at 200 level from ENGL, or
any 60 points at 200 level from the Schedule V of the BA.

Course Coordinator / Lecturer

Paul Millar


Nicholas Wright


Assessment Due Date Percentage 
Attendance and participation 20%
Essay 30%
In-Class Test 20%
Take Home Test 30%

Textbooks / Resources

Because of the substantial reading load, students are strongly advised to read as many novels as possible before classes commence. Class discussions will proceed on the assumption that all students have read the text.

Text books (in order of study):

• F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby (1925)
• Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse (1927)
• Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited  (1945)  
• George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949)
• Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea (1966)
• Keri Hulme, The Bone People (1983)
• Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale (1985)
• Toni Morrison, Beloved (1987)

(Image: "Clockwork Orange eye scene" by Gwendal Uguen, licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.)

Course links

Library portal

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $1,641.00

International fee $7,500.00

* All fees are inclusive of NZ GST or any equivalent overseas tax, and do not include any programme level discount or additional course-related expenses.

For further information see Humanities .

All ENGL315 Occurrences

  • ENGL315-23S2 (C) Semester Two 2023