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Thompson Rivers University
Thompson Rivers University

ENGL 4241: Modern British Fiction

This course provides a survey of modern British fiction from its development early in the twentieth century, to its current achievements and trends. The course focuses on the work of six representative novelists and examines the way these writers perceive the world around them and how they construct their fiction. A close critical reading of six novels allows students to understand each work on its own terms, to place it in the context of each writer's full body of work, and, finally, to see in it reflections of the major themes of modern British fiction.

Learning outcomes

The primary response to a work of literature is the direct experience of it. Analysis and criticism serve to provide the tools and the information necessary to make that experience more complete. In specific terms, after completion of this course, students should be able to:

  • Trace the broad developments in the British novel during the twentieth century.
  • Identify and account for some of the concerns of modern novelists.
  • Identify some of the changes in the forms of modern fiction.
  • Demonstrate a capacity for a close critical reading of a literary text.
  • Communicate clearly, in writing, an informed response to that text.

Course topics

  • Unit 1: Sons and Lovers
  • Unit 2: A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
  • Unit 3: To the Lighthouse
  • Unit 4: The French Lieutenant's Woman
  • Unit 5: London Fields
  • Unit 6: White Teeth

Required text and materials

The following materials are required for this course:

  1. Amis, Martin. London Fields. New York: Vintage International, 1991.
    Type: Novel ISBN: 9780679730347

  2. Fowles, John.  The French Lieutenant's Woman. Back Bay Books Edition, 1998.
    Type: Novel ISBN: 9780316291163

  3. Lawrence, D. H. Sons and Lovers. Eds. Helen Baron and Carl Baron. London: Penguin Classics, 2006.
    Type: Novel ISBN: 9780141441443

  4. Woolf, Virginia. To the Lighthouse. Ed. David Bradshaw. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.
    Type: Novel ISBN: 978-0-19-953661-0

  5. Joyce, James. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Ed. John Paul Riquelme. New York: W. W. Norton, 2022.
    Type: Novel. ISBN: 978-0-393-64394-7

  6. Smith, Zadie. White Teeth. London: Penguin Books, 2017.
    Type: Novel ISBN: 978-0-241-98139-9

Optional materials

Two audio CD's are recommended for this course. They are not required, but students may find them helpful and interesting. The CD's, which are readings from James Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and from Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse, are available to borrow from TRU Library.


Please be aware that should your course have a final exam, you are responsible for the fee to the online proctoring service, ProctorU, or to the in-person approved Testing Centre. Please contact with any questions about this.

To successfully complete this course, students must achieve a passing grade of 50% or higher on the overall course, and 50% or higher on the final mandatory exam.

Assignment 1 10%
Assignment 2 15%
Assignment 3 15%
Assignment 4 20%
Final examination (mandatory) 40%
Total 100%

Open Learning Faculty Member Information

An Open Learning Faculty Member is available to assist students. Students will receive the necessary contact information at the start of the course.

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