The First World War in Literature

The details
Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 4
Thursday 08 October 2020
Friday 18 December 2020
04 June 2020


Requisites for this module



Key module for

BA QT37 English and United States Literature (Including Year Abroad),
BA T720 English and United States Literature,
BA T723 English and United States Literature (Including Placement Year),
BA T728 English and United States Literature (Including Foundation Year),
BA Q210 English and Comparative Literature,
BA Q211 English and Comparative Literature (Including Year Abroad),
BA Q212 English and Comparative Literature (Including Placement Year),
BA Q218 English and Comparative Literature (Including Foundation Year)

Module description

Some of the most emotional and powerful literature of the 20th century was written by combatants and non-combatants during the First World War. Looking at writings in English and translation, as well as subsequent literary representations of the conflict, we will examine the unseen side of conflict.

In this module you will investigate the lost voices of war, the writings of women and civilians as well as soldiers; you’ll explore the formation of poetic canons of the First World War; and you’ll critically analyse images of homecoming, shellshock and memories of war in drama, poetry and narrative.

Module aims

The module aims to
• explore literary engagements with the First World War in different genres
• analyse ways in which literary texts mediate traumatic events,
• examine the process of memory and memorialization.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of the module students are expected to have:

1. read and analysed one collection of poetry, and studied at least four other texts relating to the First World War;
2. produced a critique of an anthology of poetry demonstrating an understanding of canon formation;
3. developed arguments concerning the literary representations of the diverse experiences of war;
4. developed research skills by means of independent study and bibliographical searches;
5. developed IT skills by means of the virtual learning environment, Moodle and developed writing skills.

Module information

Essential Reading (You must obtain copies of these texts)

Remarque, Erich Maria, (1929) 1996. All Quiet on the Western Front, trans. Brian Murdoch, London: Vintage.
Sherriff, R. C., (1929) 2000. Journey's End, London: Penguin Classics
Tate, Trudi (ed.) 1995. Women Men and the Great War: An Anthology of Stories, Manchester: Manchester University Press
Walter, George, 2006. The Penguin Book of First World War Poetry, London: Penguin
Woolf, Virginia (1996) Mrs Dalloway, Harmondsworth: Penguin
One other anthology of First World War poetry of your choice [essential for the first two seminars – consult list below for suggestions]

Recommended Primary Texts
The complete list of Recommended Primary Texts is availble on Moodle.

Learning and teaching methods

Anticipated teaching delivery for 2020-21: Weekly 1 hour lecture + 1 hour class + online portfolio activities


  • Tate, Trudi. (©1995) Women, men, and the Great War: an anthology of stories, New York: Manchester University Press.
  • Woolf, Virginia; Showalter, Elaine; McNichol, Stella. (2000) Mrs Dalloway, London: Penguin.
  • Sherriff, R. C. (1983) Journey's end, New York: Penguin.
  • Walter, George. (2006) The Penguin book of First World War poetry, London: Penguin.
  • Remarque, Erich Maria; Murdoch, Brian. (1996) All quiet on the Western Front, London: Vintage.
  • James Campbell. (1999) 'Combat Gnosticism: The Ideology of First World War Poetry Criticism', in New Literary History: The Johns Hopkins University Press. vol. 30, pp.203-215

The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course. The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students. Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Weighting
Coursework   Essay 1 (1,500 words)    25% 
Coursework   Essay 2 (2,500 words)     55% 
Coursework   Online Portfolio     15% 
Practical   Participation Mark    5% 

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Prof Katharine Cockin, email:
Professor Katharine Cockin
LiFTS General Office - email Telephone 01206 872626



External examiner

Prof Duncan James Salkeld
University of Chichester
Professor of Shakespeare and Renaissance Literature
Available via Moodle
Of 40 hours, 34 (85%) hours available to students:
6 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information

* Please note: due to differing publication schedules, items marked with an asterisk (*) base their information upon the previous academic year.

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