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Literature 6A: Contemporary Literatures in English


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.

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. 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.


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

Mode of instruction

Two-hour seminar per week.

Course Load

The course load of this course is 280 hours.

  • hours spent on attending lectures and seminars: 26

  • time for studying the compulsory literature: 190

  • time to prepare for the presentation and the writing of a paper (including reading / research): 64

Assessment method

Essay of 3000-3500 words (60%), presentation + classroom participation (40%).


This course is supported by 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, Saturday

  • Philip Roth, The Plot Against America

  • Teksten in Blackboard


Students should register through uSis. Exchange students cannot register through uSis, but must see the coordinator of studies and register with her. If you have any questions, please contact the departmental office, tel. 071 5272144 or mail: english@hum.leidenuniv.nl.

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 via Studeren à la carte
Registration via Contractonderwijs


Registration via Studeren à la carte
Registration via Contractonderwijs