Contemporary Fiction and Critical Theory

This half-unit will examine the relationship between British fiction and literary theory as it has developed over the past thirty or so years. The course will examine a range of contemporary fiction upon which theory has had a formative impact. Novels by Julian Barnes, Malcolm Bradbury, A. S. Byatt, Angela Carter, Patricia Duncker, and David Lodge will be read in tandem with the theoretical writings from which they have drawn inspiration. There will be a particular emphasis on the leading French theorists, including Roland Barthes, Jacques Derrida and Michael Foucault. The course aims to assess the creative possibilities opened up by radical literary theory, and to trace the ethical and cultural controversies which have surrounded the assimilation of French theory into English culture.