Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit


10 cp from 100-level unit in Literature

Unit rationale, description and aim

It is essential for any professional working in a literary or cultural field to have a firm understanding of the way modernism and postmodernism swept through culture in the twentieth century. The revolutionary social and artistic transformations that emerged from this period left few aspects of culture untouched. In the field of literature, the twentieth century saw the production of texts that directly challenged the social and political chaos resulting from two world wars. While some texts were self-conscious experiments in the art of writing and others seemed to situate themselves in relation to various traditions, many writers saw the role of the creative writer as fundamental to global harmony. In the course of gaining a detailed understanding of some of these innovative and thought-provoking texts, and their contexts, students will learn about the changing historical, political, social and cultural conditions of this extraordinary century. The aim of this unit is to familiarise students with the literature of this period while developing skills in linking literature to its social and political contexts.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Discuss theoretical approaches towards and textual knowledge of literature of the twentieth century (GA5, GA9) 

LO2 - Communicate clearly in written and/or oral form, in a style appropriate to a specified audience (GA6, GA9) 

LO3 - Locate, evaluate and appropriately reference a variety of texts relevant to twentieth-century literature in order to develop an evidence-based argument (GA5, GA8, GA10) 

LO4 - Apply the methods that literary theorists have used to research and interpret twentieth-century Literature (GA4, GA5, GA6, GA10) 

LO5 - Reflect on key debates relating to literary studies over time (GA1, GA2, GA3, GA5, GA8). 

Graduate attributes

GA1 - demonstrate respect for the dignity of each individual and for human diversity 

GA2 - recognise their responsibility to the common good, the environment and society 

GA3 - apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA6 - solve problems in a variety of settings taking local and international perspectives into account

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 

GA9 - demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media 

GA10 - utilise information and communication and other relevant technologies effectively.


Topics may include: 

  • key cultural ideas and movements of the twentieth century 
  • Futurism, the Avant-garde, Modernism and Postmodernism 
  • the influence of perceptions of Africa on Modernism 
  • feminism 
  • ‘high culture’ 
  • popular culture, mass communication 
  • specific developments leading from global flows of culture 
  • historical contexts of the twentieth century such as World Wars I and II and the new social movements of the late twentieth century. 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit may run in attendance or multimode formats. Both modes will provide key theoretical and contextual information through online or face to face lectures and will use face to face class exercises, discussions and formal assignments to encourage a questioning approach to literature. Student engagement through online and in-class analysis will encourage exploration, critical thinking and reflection on approaches to the texts and the historical and political contexts from which they emerge. These reflections are then formalised in an assessment. Students will be required to concentrate on one particular topic for the research assignment, again demonstrating advanced skills developed in the unit in close reading, research and placing the literature in context. The unit will teach techniques in clear writing and research skills vital to develop well-argued and evidence-based analyses. 

This is a 10-credit point unit and has been designed to ensure that the time needed to complete the required volume of learning to the requisite standard is approximately 150 hours in total across the semester. To achieve a passing standard in this unit, students will find it helpful to engage in the full range of learning activities and assessments utilised in this unit, as described in the learning and teaching strategy and the assessment strategy.  

Assessment strategy and rationale

The assessment strategy is designed to both assess and build the knowledge and skills required to achieve the learning outcomes specified for this unit through a variety of interconnected assessment tasks. The first assignment focuses on the weekly readings from early in the unit. It will offer the student the opportunity to analyse selected texts in terms of their innovation in style, language or form and/or in terms of the historical context from which they emerge. This will widen students’ understanding of the field and assist development of the topic and texts for their research essay. Accumulated skills and understandings will be tested through the summative assessment that fosters students’ capacity to reflect on their knowledge. These assessment tasks allow students to demonstrate their understanding and critical skills at a level appropriate to second-year study. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Descriptive/Reflective Response 

This will be a short, formative assessment that encourages students to discuss freely twentieth-century literature and to use this opportunity to develop communication and analytical skills. The lecturer may set this as a written or oral task. 


LO1, LO2 

GA5, GA6, GA9 

Research Essay 

The key purpose of this assessment is to foster skills in analysis, synthesis, writing skills and research in literature of the twentieth century. 


LO2, LO3, LO4 

GA4, GA5, GA6, GA8, GA9, GA10 

Summative Assessment/Examination 

The key purpose is to support students’ engagement with their reading tasks and to deepen their broad summative understanding of the literature and critical debates as a whole. This lecturer may set this as a written exam, take-home exam or reflective essay. 


LO2, LO4, LO5 

GA1, GA2, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA6, GA8, GA9, GA10 

Representative texts and references

Bru, Sascha, et al., ed. Regarding the Popular: Modernism, the Avant-garde, and High and Low Culture. De Gruyter, 2012. 

Connell, Liam. Precarious Labour and the Contemporary Novel. Springer International Publishing, 2017. 

Cordle, Daniel. Late Cold War Literature and Culture: The Nuclear 1980s. Palgrave, 2017. 

Detloff, Madelyn. The Persistence of Modernism: Loss and Mourning in the Twentieth Century. Cambridge UP, 2009. 

Grossman, Michele. Entangled Subjects: Indigenous/Australian Cross-cultures of Talk, Text, and Modernity. Brill Rodopi, 2013.Hammond, Andrew. Cold War Stories British Dystopian Fiction, 1945-1990. Palgrave, 2017. 

Olson, Liesl. Modernism and the Ordinary. Oxford University Press, 2009. 

Platt, Len, ed. Modernism and Race. Cambridge University Press, 2011. 

Randall, Bryony; Goldman, Jane, eds. Virginia Woolf in Context. Cambridge University Press, 2012. 

Swirski, Peter. American Crime Fiction: A Cultural History of Nobrow Literature as Art. Springer International Publishing, 2016. 

Have a question?

We're available 9am–5pm AEDT,
Monday to Friday

If you’ve got a question, our AskACU team has you covered. You can search FAQs, text us, email, live chat, call – whatever works for you.

Live chat with us now

Chat to our team for real-time
answers to your questions.

Launch live chat

Visit our FAQs page

Find answers to some commonly
asked questions.

See our FAQs