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Explore key literary works of the early 20th- century.
Sandra M Gilbert explores the literary heritage of two of the most famous First World War poems, Wilfred Owen's 'Anthem for Doomed Youth' and 'Dulce et Decorum est'.Read More
Randall Stevenson describes how the violence and loss of the First World War affected modernist writers’ attitudes towards nature and time, as well as shaping their experiments with language, literary form and the representation of consciousness.Read More
James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man follows the development of a young Catholic Irishman from early boyhood to young adulthood. Here Dr Katherine Mullin examines Joyce’s portrayal of artistic expression, sexual transgression, and the repressive forces of culture and church.Read More
Since its publication in 1922, readers have been daunted, dazzled and puzzled by Ulysses. Katherine Mullin introduces James Joyce's novel, exploring both its commitment to modernist experimentation and to the portrayal of everyday life.Read More
The writing and publication history of Ulysses was shaped by individuals and organisations trying to censor it, outraged by its explicit references to the human body and its iconoclasm. David Bradshaw describes the reactions to James Joyce's novel on both sides of the Atlantic, from its initial magazine serialisation in 1919 to the 1950s.Read More
Seamus Perry describes the stark realism of James Joyce's Dubliners, and its attention to the details of everyday life in Ireland's capital city.Read More
James Joyce wrote some of the stories in Dubliners in a state of financial crisis, desperate to earn money from his writing. Katherine Mullin describes how this preoccupation with money makes its way into the stories themselves.Read More
Lyndall Gordon explores how modernist art, dance and music, as well as the experience of early 20th-century urban living, shaped T S Eliot's The Waste Land, which both describes the modern condition and searches for something outside of it.Read More
The Waste Land was radical in both style and substance. Roz Kaveney examines the modernist devices, cultural influences and literary collaborations that shaped this landmark poem.Read More
The speaker of 'The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock' is trapped in his own mind, so full of hesitation and doubt that he is unable to act. Seamus Perry explores the poem's portrayal of paralysing anxiety.Read More
Roz Kaveney considers 'The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock' as a poem that both grapples with the modern world and looks back to the work of writers such as Dante, Robert Browning, Henry James and Stéphane Mallarmé.Read More
Professor John Sutherland explores the origins and afterlife of T S Eliot’s Book of Practical Cats, the ‘cat poems’ first written to entertain Eliot’s godchildren that later became his best-selling collection and inspired a famous stage production.Read More
E M Forster started planning A Room with a View in 1902, but it was several years and several drafts before he finished it. Stephanie Forward describes some of the difficulties relating to plot and style that Forster experienced in writing his novel about overcoming conventions in the pursuit of authentic connection.Read More
A year after E M Forster's death, his novel about a relationship between two men, Maurice, was published. Kate Symondson explores how Forster's sexuality shaped his writing and the long period during which he didn't publish anything at all.Read More
Katherine Mansfield was a pioneer of the modern short story. Here Stephanie Forward provides close readings of three short stories from Mansfield’s celebrated 1922 collection, The Garden Party and Other Stories.Read More
Elaine Showalter describes how, in Mrs Dalloway, Virginia Woolf uses stream of consciousness to enter the minds of her characters and portray cultural and individual change in the period following the First World War.Read More
Mrs Dalloway, which takes place on one day in June 1923, shows how the First World War continued to affect those who had lived through it, five years after it ended. David Bradshaw explores the novel's commemoration of the dead and evocations of trauma and mourning.Read More
Professor Elaine Showalter explores modernity, consciousness, gender and time in Virginia Woolf’s ground-breaking work, Mrs Dalloway. The film is shot around the streets of London, as well as at the British Library and at Gordon Square in Bloomsbury where Virginia and her siblings lived in the early 20th century. The film offers rare glimpses into the manuscript draft of the novel.View Video
Focussing on Virginia Woolf’s representation of time, consciousness and the rupture caused by World War One, Professor Kate Flint reveals how To the Lighthouse is a carefully structured, psychologically complex novel that ultimately asks the reader to reflect on their own ever-changing experience of being in the world.Read More
Professor Rachel Bowlby examines A Room of One’s Own as a key work of feminist criticism, revealing how Virginia Woolf ranges beyond the essay’s official topic of women and fiction to question issues around education, sexuality, and gendered values.Read More
'Funeral Blues', also known as 'Stop all the Clocks', is perhaps now most famous for its recitation in the film Four Weddings and a Funeral, but its first audience encountered it as part of a play. Seamus Perry discusses the poem and its place in The Ascent of F6, co-authored by W H Auden and Christopher Isherwood.Read More
John Sutherland describes the life of W H Auden and takes a look at three of his poems.Read More
Barbara Morden looks beyond the period detail and romantic conventions of Rebecca to uncover an archetypal story of female identity formation.Read More
Professor John Bowen explores truth, fiction, repression and freedom in George Orwell’s iconic 1949 novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four. The film is shot at Senate House in London, formerly the Ministry of Information, and the building on which Orwell based the Ministry of Truth.View Video
John Sutherland describes the biographical and historical events that produced George Orwell’s Down and Out in Paris and London, which combines memoir with a study of poverty in two European cities in the late 1920s.Read More
Find close readings, critical interpretations and personal responses to the works of key 20th-century playwrights and practitioners, including Samuel Beckett, Harold Pinter, Shelagh Delaney and Timberlake Wertenbaker.
From riots at the ballet to punk rock fanzines, discover the music, art and popular culture that shook the world in the 20th century.
Modernist writers broke new ground by experimenting with new forms and themes. From everyday life, perception and time to the kaleidoscopic and fractured nature of modern life, discover the ways in which these writers created and captured the modern.
From Paris to Moscow and from Berlin to Dublin, discover how European cities were crucibles for modernist experimentation.
Examine how writers have explored identity – through the prisms of ethnicity, class, gender and sexuality – in the modern world.
From subversive fairy tales to gothic nightmares, explore how 20th-century writers used fantasy to analyse and question the real world around them.
From Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own, E M Forster’s Maurice and Shelagh Delaney’s A Taste of Honey to Sylvia Plath’s journals and Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber, discover how literature explored, questioned and exploded traditional ideas of gender roles and sexuality.
From The Waste Land to Ulysses and from Mrs Dalloway to Nineteen Eighty-Four, discover the seminal literary works of the early 20th century.
From The Bell Jar and Birthday Letters to High-Rise and The Buddha of Suburbia, explore key literary works of the late 20th century.
From First World War poetry to works inspired by the Blitz and from futuristic dystopias to depictions of religious radicalism, see how war and conflict shaped 20th-century literature.
From Stanislavski to Brecht and from Theatre of the Absurd to Theatre Workshop, explore some of the key influences and developments within 20th century theatre practice.