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Modernity: Art, War, and Crisis

Code: 42293 ECTS Credits: 6
Degree Type Year Semester
4313157 Advanced English Studies OT 0 0
The proposed teaching and assessment methodology that appear in the guide may be subject to changes as a result of the restrictions to face-to-face class attendance imposed by the health authorities.


Maria Cristina Pividori Gurgo

Use of Languages

Principal working language:
english (eng)


  • This is an optional subject that requires a keen interest and enthusiasm for the reading and debate of literary works in English which study the relationship between Modernism, the First World War, and art. 
  • All students should have a C1 level of English or the equivalent in order to follow the course and to be able to produce assignments at a level that will be required for their assessment. Students will be expected to follow and undertake practical work with advanced texts in the field of literature.


Objectives and Contextualisation

Virginia Woolf stated that “in or about December, 1910, human character changed.” This thought-provoking assertion links together the two central concerns of this course: Modernism and World War One. If human character changed, art did so also, and perhaps equally if not more radically. Through reading across genres, particularly prose and poetry, we will come to an understanding of this tragic, enthralling, and complex period of human and literary history. This course therefore focuses on responses to and representations of the Great War and on the ways in which literature attempted to bear witness to the trauma of the war experience.  We will focus on the interaction of different writings, and on how literature borrowed ideas that circulated in politics, psychoanalysis and propaganda.

Once completed this course, the student will achieve an academic understanding of the following subjects

  • The representation of war: the distinction between witnessing, seeing and remembering
  • “The Pity of War”
  • Heroism and disillusionment. 
  • The formal aspects of Modernism.
  • The place of Modernism within history
  • Modernism, war and gender.




  • Analyse and synthesise information at an advanced level.
  • Analyse the relationship between factors, processes or phenomena in the acquisition of English as a second language, its learning and teaching methods, and its literature, history and culture.
  • Apply methodological knowledge of statistical analysis and data generation, treatment and codification of multilingual databases, analysis of literary texts, etc. to research.
  • Communicate the knowledge acquired and the contributions of one’s research correctly, accurately and clearly both orally and in writing.
  • Critically argue, issue judgements and present ideas on the basis of the analysis of information originating from scientific production in these areas.
  • Develop autonomous learning skills applicable to the research process.
  • Distinguish and contrast between the different methodological and theoretical models applied to the academic study of the acquisition, teaching and use of English as a second language in multilingual and multicultural contexts, literary studies and cultural studies.
  • Show respect towards the opinions, values, behaviours and/or practices of others.
  • Use the English language for academic and professional purposes related to research into the acquisition, teaching and use of English as a second language in multilingual and multicultural contexts, literary studies and cultural studies.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Analyse and interpret at an advanced level literary texts on the English Literature of Modernism (early 20th century)
  2. Analyse and interpret at an advanced level scientifically produced texts on the Modernist English Literature, extracting relevant citations and making content summaries.
  3. Analyse and synthesise information at an advanced level.
  4. Communicate the knowledge acquired and the contributions of one’s research correctly, accurately and clearly both orally and in writing.
  5. Develop autonomous learning skills applicable to the research process.
  6. Distinguish and contrast the different theoretical and methodological models applied to the academic study of Modernism in the English language.
  7. Make oral presentations in English on subjects and texts related to advanced research into Modernist English Literature.
  8. Read and analyse literary and cultural representation in the English language on the subject of the impact of war on the art and literature of Modernism.
  9. Show respect towards the opinions, values, behaviours and/or practices of others.
  10. Write texts defending an idea in relation to a Modernist literary text in English, applying secondary sources to the critical argumentation.


We will study the following texts in the order given. You should be familiar with them before the course starts. For the first and third texts, please obtain the specified edition. For the second and fourth, any edition will do.

1. Walter, George (ed.) The Penguin Book of First World War Poetry. (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 2006.)

2. Malouf, David. Fly Away Peter.

3. Woolf, Virginia (ed. & intro. D Bradshaw) Mrs Dalloway. (Oxford: Oxford UP, 2009)

4. D. H. Lawrence, Lady Chatterley’s Lover.

 Among the topics we will discuss, we can highlight the following: 

  1. The representation of war: how should war be narrated? What values should it uphold? What role does patriotism play?
  2. What do witnessing, seeing and remembering mean in the context of the Great War?
  3. How does literature, including modernist fiction, actively engage with commemoration, memory, and understanding of war?
  4. “The Pity of War”: how should society react to mass slaughter? Should tragedy be the dominant literary form?
  5. Heroism: Was the traditional link between war and heroism affected? How? 
  6. The formal and theoretical aspects of Modernism: The Poetics of Psychoanalysis in the understanding of conflict. 
  7. War and gender: in what way did warfare alter gender roles? And sexuality?
  8. To what extent do these particular issues effect the way we understand conflict today?


  • This subject is based on the exchange of ideas between teacher and students, and among the students themselves. This will require a high degree of preparation and participation from everyone. In addition, students will have to prepare presentations and write at least one exercise in class.
  • Apart from compulsory attendance, it is assumed that students will have read both the primary and secondary material thoroughly. This is essentially a course on literature that, at the same time, requires some historical knowledge. As the discussion in class will require certain relevant historical knowledge, the students will have to do additional readings that the teacher will assign throughout the course.
  • In the Virtual Campus, all the information regarding the additional readings and other similar tasks will be published.

Annotation: Within the schedule set by the centre or degree programme, 15 minutes of one class will be reserved for students to evaluate their lecturers and their courses or modules through questionnaires.


Title Hours ECTS Learning Outcomes
Type: Directed      
Classroom activities –1(attendance, debate) 30 1.2 2, 1, 3, 4, 9, 6, 8
Type: Supervised      
Classroom activities –2 (oral presentation, in-class exam) 10 0.4 5, 6, 7, 10
Type: Autonomous      
Study, reading, and thinking 75 3 2, 1, 3, 4, 9, 5, 6, 8


  1. Final Paper: at the beginning of the course, the teacher will give you a list of topics/questions from which you will have to choose the topic of your final paper= 50%
  2. Other written exercises: there will be several, often ad-hoc, and including at least one in-class exercise=25%
  3. Oral assessment: based on class participation and individual presentations= 25%


  • All the exercises are COMPULSORY
  • The submission of any of the exercises invalidates the student to get a “Not assessed/Not submitted” course grade
  • On carrying out each assessment activity, lecturers will inform students (on Moodle) of the procedures to be followed for reviewing all grades awarded, and the date on which such a review will take place.
  • In the event that tests or exams cannot be taken onsite, they will be adapted to an online format made available through the UAB’s virtual tools (original weighting will be maintained). Homework, activities and class participation will be carried out through forums, wikis and/or discussion on Teams, etc. Lecturers will ensure that students are able to access these virtual tools, or will offer them feasible alternatives.


  • Re-assessment for this subject requires a content-synthesis test for each module component.
  • Component 3 is not eligible for re-assessment.
  • The definitive grade awarded for a re-assessed itme will be 5.

VERY IMPORTANT: Plagiary is copying one or more sentences from   unidentified sources, presenting it as original work (THIS INCLUDES COPYING PHRASES OR FRAGMENTS FROM THE INTERNET AND ADDING THEM WITHOUT MODIFICATION TO A TEXT WHICH IS PRESENTED AS ORIGINAL).   Plagiarism is a serious offense. Students must learn to respect the intellectualproperty of others, identifying any source they may use, and take responsibility for the originality and authenticity of the texts they produce.

In the event of a student committing any irregularity that may lead to a significant variation in the grade awarded to an assessment activity, the student will be given a zero for this activity, regardless of any disciplinary process that may take place. In the event of several irregularities in assessment activities of the same subject, the student will be given a zero as the final grade for this subject.


Assessment Activities

Title Weighting Hours ECTS Learning Outcomes
Paper 50% 25 1 2, 1, 3, 4, 9, 5, 6, 8, 10
Oral assessment 25% 5 0.2 2, 1, 3, 4, 9, 5, 6, 8, 7
Other written exercises 25% 5 0.2 2, 1, 3, 4, 9, 6, 8, 10



Basic secondary material on literature and war:

Fussell, Paul. The Great War and Modern Memory. London: Oxford UP, 1977.

Gilbert, ‘Sandra M. Soldier’s Heart: Literary Men, Literary Women, and The Great War’ (Signs, Vol. 8: 3, Spring 1983) pp. 422-450.

McLoughlin. Authoring War: The Literary Representation of War from The Iliad to Iraq. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2011.

Owen, David and Pividori, Cristina. Writings of Persuasion and Dissonance in the Great War. That Better Whiles May Follow Worse. The Netherlands: Brill, 2016.

Pividori, Cristina. "Eros and Thanatos Revisited: the Poetics of Trauma in Rebecca West's "The Return of the Soldier"  Atlantis. 32.2 (2010): 89-104. 

---. "Of Heroes, Ghosts, and Witnesses: the Construction of Masculine Identity in the War Poets' Narratives." Journal of War & Culture Studies. 7.2 (2014): 162-178. 

---.  "Impressions from the Front: the Crisis of the Witness in Ford Madox Ford’s Parade’s End." in David Owen and Cristina Pividori (eds) Writings of Persuasion and Dissonance in the Great War. That Better Whiles May Follow Worse. The Netherlands: Brill:  106-120. 

Saunders, Nicholas.  Matters of Conflict: Material Culture, Memory and the First World War. Taylor & Francis, 2004.

Tylee, Claire. The Great War and Women’s Consciousness: Images of Militarism and Womanhood in Women’s Writings: 1914-1964. Iowa City: Iowa UP, 1990.

Winter, Jay. Sites of Memory, Sites of Mourning. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1995.


Basic secondary material on modernism:

Booth, Allyson. Postcards from the Trenches: Negotiating the Space between Modernism and the First World War. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011. 

Cole, Sarah. Modernism, Male Friendship, and the First World War. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007. 

Goldman, Jane. Modernism, 1910-1945: Image toApocalypse. Basingstoke: Palgrave-Macmillan, 2004.

Hawkes, Rob. Ford Madox Ford and the Misfit Moderns: Edwardian Fiction and the First World War. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013. 

(ed.) Levenson, Michael. The Cambridge Companion to Modernism. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2011.

Sherry, Vincent B. The Great War and the Language of Modernism. New York: Oxford UP, 2003.

Tate, Trudi. Modernism, History and the First World War. Manchester: Manchester UP, 1998.


Basic secondary material on World War One:

Anievas, Alexander. Cataclysm 1914: The First World War and the Making of Modern World Politics. Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2016. 

Howard, Michael. The First World War. New York: Oxford UP, 2002

Mazower, Mark. Dark Continent: Europe’s Twentieth Century. Harmondsworth:Penguin, 2003.

Sheffield, Gary. Forgotten Victory: The First World War, Myth and Realities. London: Headline, 2001.

Stiener, Zara S. Britain and the Origins of the First World War. Basingstoke: Palgrave-Macmillan, 2003.


International Society for First World War Studies: https://www.firstworldwarstudies.org/

Imperial War Museum: https://www.iwm.org.uk/

Re-writing War (A research project run by the Department of English & German Studies, UAB): https://blogs.uab.cat/rewritingwar/the-project/