Faculty of Arts

Monash University

Undergraduate - Unit

This unit entry is for students who completed this unit in 2015 only. For students planning to study the unit, please refer to the unit indexes in the the current edition of the Handbook. If you have any queries contact the managing faculty for your course or area of study.

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6 points, SCA Band 1, 0.125 EFTSL

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered.

FacultyFaculty of Arts
Organisational UnitSchool of Languages, Literatures, Cultures and Linguistics
OfferedClayton Second semester 2015 (Day)
Coordinator(s)Dr Chris Watkin


Does language create our world, or does it merely describe it? If it is the former, then what are the stakes for literature? Working with a range of novelists, poets, and theorists, this course will explore literature that engages with these questions of representation in the most innovative and exciting ways. Modernism describes not so much a definite time-span in literary and artistic history, as it does an aesthetic response to various social, moral, technological, and political transformations. We will reflect on some of the most influential concepts in the early part of the twentieth century in relation to cultural and material upheavals, including urbanization, scientific and technological advances, conflicts about sexuality, and the women's movement. We will draw on theoretical texts which highlight the ambiguity or dialectics of modernity, but our primary focus will be on the literary works from Asia, Europe and Latin America that stand at the heart of definitions and debates about modernism. The texts will be studied in English translation, though they may be read in their original languages.


Students who successfully complete this unit will be able to:

  1. articulate the main definitions of modernity and modernism, and to relate them to each other;
  2. situate the works studied within their historical and cultural context and to be familiar with the historical events portrayed in or alluded to in the readings;
  3. analyze and discuss aspects of modernism and modernity in the texts studied in class, and to extend the discussion to other texts and narratives, in particular to understand how to use textual examples in an argumentative discussion.


Within semester assessment: 100%

Workload requirements

Minimum total expected workload to achieve the learning outcomes for this unit is 144 hours per semester typically comprising a mixture of scheduled learning activities and independent study. A unit requires on average three/four hours of scheduled activities per week. Scheduled activities may include a combination of teacher directed learning, peer directed learning and online engagement.

See also Unit timetable information

Chief examiner(s)

This unit applies to the following area(s) of study


Twelve credit points of second-year Arts units.