Contemporary fiction: letters in 21st century novels

Course Dates: 08/06/21 - 13/07/21
Time: 18:00 - 19:30
Location: Online
Tutors: 
Contemporary fiction is full of letters. How do letters in novels explore our present world, and give us stories about the future? Come and read a selection of twenty-first century novels to delve into the uses, intricacies and attractions of fictional letters. Authors include Ian McEwan and Tayari Jones.
This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
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SKU
183823
Full fee £89.00 Senior fee £89.00 Concession £54.00

Course Code: HLT222

Tue, eve, 08 Jun - 13 Jul '21

Duration: 6 sessions (over 6 weeks)

Or call to enrol:020 7831 7831

Please note: We offer a wide variety of financial support to make courses affordable. Just visit our online Help Center for more information on a range of topics including fees, online learning and FAQs.

What is the course about?

This online literature course looks in depth at four twenty-first-century novels from a range of styles and genres, which all make particular use of letters.

Tayari Jones, An American Marriage (2018)
Ian McEwan, The Children Act (2014)
Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone, This is How You Lose the Time War (2019)

We will explore these novels’ very different stories, how letters help to tell them and how we respond to them as readers. We will think too about how and why fictional letters are involved with the distinctly contemporary questions that occupy these novels, from racial justice and medical ethics to digital technology and our changing experience of time.

Tutor biography:
Dr Kate Wilkinson teaches English literature and has a particular interest in twenty-first-century novels. Since 2015 she has taught at Queen Mary University of London, on courses ranging from Middle English to cultural theory. Her PhD and publications explore the vibrant life of letters in fiction, and what this can tell us about our contemporary world.

This is a live online course. You will need:
- Internet connection. The classes work best with Chrome.
- A computer with microphone and camera is best (e.g. a PC/laptop/iMac/MacBook), or a tablet/iPad/smart phone/iPhone if you don't have a computer.
- Earphones/headphones/speakers.
We will contact you with joining instructions before your course starts.

What will we cover?

The course will encourage you to consider novels’ themes, style and form, evaluating these novels in the context of twenty-first-century literary studies. We will explore how they represent and respond to contemporary concerns, including racial justice, ethics, experiences of time, digital technologies and surveillance. Alongside this, we’ll cover topics about the role of letters in these novels. We’ll think about: novels written in letters and the historical origins of this form; what unanswered and undelivered letters can set in motion in a story; presenting voices and perspectives; and how letters can play with our sense of time as we read.

What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...

• Discuss these novels confidently, having extended your knowledge of twenty-first-century novels and literary studies topics
• Discuss ideas about novels’ themes, form and narrative techniques
• Appreciate the many possibilities and uses of letters in novels, and return to these in your future reading.

What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

No prior study of literature is required. You need to have an enthusiasm for reading contemporary fiction, listening to others and participating in discussions.

How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?

There will be a variety of teaching, including informal talks, small group and whole group discussion, close reading and working with additional material including video clips. Guided by the tutor, the focus will be on participation and interaction, with opportunities each week for you to share responses and ideas.

Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?

You will need to read the following novels, all available in paperback.

Tayari Jones, An American Marriage (Oneworld, 2018)
Ian McEwan, The Children Act (Jonathan Cape, 2014)
Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone, This is How You Lose the Time War (Jo Fletcher Books, 2019)

Links will be provided to other reading and class materials.

When I've finished, what course can I do next?

Please our other literature courses on our website at www.citylit.ac.uk/history, culture and writing/literature/fiction.

Kate Wilkinson

Dr Kate Wilkinson teaches English literature and has a particular interest in twenty-first-century novels. Since 2015 she has taught at Queen Mary University of London, on courses ranging from Middle English to cultural theory. Her PhD and publications explore the vibrant life of letters in fiction, and what this can tell us about our contemporary world.

Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.