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.


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 outline

In addition to a brief introduction and summary, the course is organized into six instructional units:

  • 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

Students will receive all course materials in their course package.

  1. Amis, Martin. London Fields. New York: Vintage International, 1991.
    Type: Novel ISBN: 9780679730347
  1. Fowles, John. The French Lieutenant's Woman. Back Bay Books Edition, 1998.
    Type: Novel ISBN: 9780316291163
  1. Joyce, James. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Ed. John Paul Riquelme. New York: W. W. Norton, 2007.
    Type: Novel ISBN: 9780393926798
  1. Lawrence, D. H. Sons and Lovers. Eds. Helen Baron and Carl Baron. London: Penguin Classics, 2006.
    Type: Novel ISBN: 9780141441443
  1. Smith, Zadie. White Teeth. London: Penguin Books, 2001.
    Type: Novel ISBN: 978-0-241-98139-9
  1. Woolf, Virginia. To the Lighthouse. Ed. David Bradshaw. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006.
    Type: Novel ISBN: 9780192805607

Additional requirements

Computer with Internet is required for this course. Refer to pages 104-105 or the TRU-OL website.

CD player is recommended.

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 due to COVID-19 safety guidelines all in-person exams have been suspended. As such, all final exams are currently being delivered through ProctorU, which has an approximate fee of $35 involved. There will be more information in your course shell, on how to apply, if your course has a final exam.

In order to successfully complete this course, students must obtain at least 50% on the final mandatory examination and 50% overall.

Assignment 1 10%
Assignment 2 15%
Assignment 3 15%
Assignment 4 20%
Final examination * 40%
Total 100%


Open Learning Faculty Member

An Open Learning Faculty Member is available to assist students. Primary communication is through the Learning Environment’s “Mail” tool or by phone. Students will receive the necessary contact information when starting the course.

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