nl en

Literature 6A: Contemporary Literatures in English



This course offers a selection of texts from the various literatures in English of the last 50 years, with an emphasis on the last 25 years. We will study the work of novelists like John Fowles, J.M. Coetzee, A.S. Byatt and Jhumpa Lahiri, and of poets like Seamus Heaney and Derek Walcott. These texts will be studied 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’).

Teaching method

Two hour seminar per week.

Course objectives

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.

Required reading

  • Thomas Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49.

  • Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea.

  • John Fowles, The French Lieutenant’s Woman

  • Salman Rushdie, Midnight’s Children

  • A.S. Byatt, Possession

  • Derek Walcott, Omeros.

  • Seamus Heaney, Seeing Things.

  • J.M. Coetzee, Disgrace.

  • Zadie Smith, White Teeth.

  • Jhumpa Lahiri, The Namesake

  • Ian McEwan, Saturday

  • Don DeLillo, Falling Man.

Test method

Oral presentation (30%); Final essay (70%).

Time table

The timetable will be available from June 1st on the Internet.


English Department, P.N. van Eyckhof 4, room 102c. Phone: 071 527 2144, or by mail:


Students can register through U-twist before 15 July. After 15 July students can only register through the Departmental Office.


There will be no Blackboard site available.