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Literature 6A: Contemporary Literature


Admission requirements

Successful completion of Literature 1A, 1B, 2 and 3 or equivalent.


This course offers a selection of texts from the various literatures in English of the period 1969-2010, with an emphasis on the last 15 years. We will study the work of authors like John Fowles, J.M. Coetzee, A.S. Byatt, Derek Walcott, Jhumpa Lahiri and Philip Roth 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’).
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.

Course objectives

Having completed this course: – Students have insight in (the relationship between) the most important literary movements in contemporary literatures in English (1960s until the present). – Students can apply concepts such as postmodernism and postcolonialism and analyse contemporary texts in the light of these theories. – Students can analyze the texts under scrutiny within the context of relevant cultural issues and debates of the period.


The timetable will be available by June 1st on the website

Mode of instruction


Assessment method

Essay of 3000-3500 words (50%), mini-seminar (presentation) + classroom participation (50%).


At least two weeks before the course starts, the Blackboard site will be open for self-enrolment. There you can find the course syllabus. See Blackboard

Reading list

  • John Fowles, The French Lieutenant’s Woman

  • Salman Rushdie, Midnight’s Children

  • A.S. Byatt, Possession

  • Derek Walcott, Omeros

  • Margaret Atwood, Alias Grace

  • J.M. Coetzee, Disgrace

  • Zadie Smith, White Teeth

  • Jhumpa Lahiri, The Namesake

  • Ian McEwan, Atonement

  • Philip Roth, The Plot Against America


Students should register through uSis. Exchange students cannot register through uSis, but must see the director of studies and register with her. If you have any questions, please contact the departmental office, tel. 071 5272144 or mail:
Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Study in Leiden website for information on how to apply

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Registration Studeren à la carte
Registration Contractonderwijs


Departmental Office English Language and Culture, P.N. van Eyckhof 4, room 102C. Tel. 071 5272144; mail:
Co-ordinator of Studies: Ms T.D. Obbens, MA, P.N. van Eyckhof 4, room 103C.