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Politics & the Novel - POL00027H

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  • Department: Politics
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Liam Clegg
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: H
  • Academic year of delivery: 2021-22

Module summary

The module explores the relationship between literary fiction and the discipline of Politics. We study six set texts from Soviet-era Russia, examine how these works function as acts of critique, and reflect on how we can use the texts to clarify our understanding of related political concepts.

Most recently, the six texts covered were: Yevgeny Zamyatin’s We, Andrei Platonov’s The Foundation Pit, Mikhail Bulgakov’s Master and Margarita, Juri Trifonov’s House on the Embankment, Tatyana Tolstaya’s On the Golden Porch, and Julia Voznesenskaya’s The Women’s Decameron.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Autumn Term 2021-22

Module aims

The module will support and challenge you to engage effectively with English-Politics interdisciplinary scholarship. In addition to introducing key scholarship in this area, the module begins by providing a historic contextualisation of cultural policy and dissident literature in the Soviet Union. The main body of the module is constituted by the literary engagements, where each week we will discuss in detail one novel and related political themes. To allow time for preparatory reading through the summer vacation, the list of set texts will be available by the end of Summer Term. 

Module learning outcomes

By the end of the module, you should have:

  • Developed an advanced understanding of the opportunities and challenges of interdisciplinary study across English and Politics;
  • Identified and explored critiques of the Soviet system being constructed in the set novels, and highlighted the literary techniques used to develop these critiques;
  • Identified and explored the clarifications and extensions to political concepts that can be extracted from your reading of the novel, and highlighted the literary techniques that underpin these themes.

A Glossary of Literary Analysis is provided within the VLE, which provides a foundation to support students’ reflection on literary techniques and features of the se texts.



Task Length % of module mark
Essay - 3000 words
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Essay - 3000 words
N/A 100

Module feedback

Students will receive written timely feedback on their formative assessment. They will also have the opportunity to discuss their feedback during the module tutors feedback and guidance hours.

Students will receive written feedback on their summative assessment no later than 20 working days after submission; and the module tutor will hold a specific session to discuss feedback, which students can also opt to attend. They will also have the opportunity to discuss their feedback during the module tutors regular feedback and guidance hours.

Indicative reading

Cullerne Bown, M. (1991) Art Under Stalin (London: Phaedon).

Plamper, J. (2001) ‘Abolishing ambiguity: Russian censorship practices in the 1930s’, Russian Review 60(4): 526-44.

Scott, K. (2016) The Limits of Politics: Making the Case for Literature in Political Analysis (London: Lexington).

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.