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Twentieth Century Literature Before 1945

Course Code: ENGL 3139
Faculty: Language, Literature & Performing Arts
Department: English
Credits: 3.0
Semester: 15 weeks
Learning Format: Lecture, Seminar
Typically Offered: TBD. Contact Department Chair for more info.
course overview

Focusing on the period between 1885 and 1945, this course surveys a selection of texts in any genre(s), chosen to highlight an organizing theoretical, national, or thematic focus. Secondary readings will include theory/criticism, and will introduce students to a range of early twentieth century aesthetic practices and perspectives.

Course Content

All third-year English courses share the following features:

  1. Students are presumed to have had first-year level instruction and experience in writing critical essays on literary subjects.
  2. Students are required to read in the course subject area beyond the texts assigned by the instructor.
  3. Students are required to incorporate into their oral and written coursework secondary source materials which may include biographical information, literary criticism or theory, unassigned texts by the author under study, relevant cultural or intellectual history, or other aesthetic works such as music or visual art.

Readings and topics vary with each instructor’s presentation of a course, but all course materials are consistent with the objectives and outcomes for this course.

Additionally, in English 3139,

  1. students will read a selection of early twentieth century texts, as well as some theoretical/critical material relevant to the particular theme or focus.
  2. areas of concentration and course content will vary with the instructor but may include, but not be limited to, explorations of the influence of technology on creative practice; the role of warfare—and artists' experiences of warfare—in artistic production; the effect of shifting genre expectations; the effect of new creative modes such as advertising, cinema, and comics on creative practice; the role of other literary traditions, styles, or perspectives in the development of modernist aesthetics; the development—and deployment—of theoretical and aesthetic perspectives.
  3. the texts chosen may have been produced originally in English or studied in translation.
  4. the texts chosen will be predominantly literary, but may include other artistic genres such as film, music, and painting.

Methods of Instruction

Some or all of the following methods will be used:

  1. lecture/discussion;
  2. group work;
  3. peer review;
  4. independent research;
  5. instructor feedback on students’ work;
  6. individual consultation; and
  7. presentation (individual or group).

Means of Assessment

  1. A minimum of two academic essays and a final exam worth at least 80% of the course grade (combined total).
  2. A maximum of 20% of the course grade may be based on informal writing (quizzes, short answer tests); oral reports/presentations; participation/preparation grades; and/or other non writing-intensive assignments.

Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of any third-year English literature course, students should be able to

  1. read and analyze literary texts with increased skill and insight;
  2. integrate their understanding of literature into an evolving awareness of relevant cultural and historical contexts and perspectives;
  3. perceive connections among literary texts across genres, historical periods, and/or cultural contexts;
  4. conduct independent research to supplement the course material and integrate this information into course assignments; and
  5. write different kinds of literary analyses, such as thematic, technical, or theoretical.

 Upon completion of English 3139, students should also have developed an understanding and appreciation of

  1. the historical and aesthetic development of Anglo-American/Continental literature and culture during the early twentieth century;
  2. the social, political, cultural or historical conditions out of which the literature of the period emerges, and to which it responds;
  3. the range of themes and issues reflected in early twentieth century writing; such issues might include the impact of technology; increased industrialization; the rise of avant-garde movements and schools; the establishment of alternative forms of aesthetic appreciation; urbanization; warfare; shifting political climates; and challenges to traditional definitions of gender.

course prerequisites

Any two university-transfer first-year English literature courses, or one university-transfer first-year English literature course and one university-transfer first-year Creative Writing or English writing course, and a minimum of 45 credit hours.

curriculum guidelines

Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester/year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

course schedule and availability
course transferability

Below shows how this course and its credits transfer within the BC transfer system. 

A course is considered university-transferable (UT) if it transfers to at least one of the five research universities in British Columbia: University of British Columbia; University of British Columbia-Okanagan; Simon Fraser University; University of Victoria; and the University of Northern British Columbia.

For more information on transfer visit the BC Transfer Guide and BCCAT websites.


If your course prerequisites indicate that you need an assessment, please see our Assessment page for more information.