Core Module Information
Module title: Everyday Life in 20th Century Literature and Film

SCQF level: 09:
SCQF credit value: 20.00
ECTS credit value: 10

Module code: CLP09127
Module leader: Tara Thomson
School School of Arts and Creative Industries
Subject area group: Media and Humanities


Description of module content:

You will explore representations of everyday life in 20th century literature and film, both in English and in translation. Everyday life seems a fairly obvious concept, but as Maurice Blanchot has argued, ‘the everyday is what is most difficult to discover … the everyday escapes’. While the everyday is a profoundly democratic concept – everyone has an everyday life, after all – the everyday has also been the prime battle ground of ideology in modern times, the space in each our lives most thoroughly infiltrated by the values of those in power, mass media, and commodities. Exploring representations of everyday life in 20th century literature and film will help you gain insight into the production and development of modernity, the diversity of modern experience across cultures, and the ways in which our daily lives have been shaped over time by ideological myths. Throughout this module, you will engage with theories of modernity, aesthetics, and cultural politics to ask how literature and film represent, defamiliarise, and critique everyday life in the modern world. In keeping with the ephemerality of everyday practices and materials, you will also engage extensively with digital media and tools on this module. You will explore relevant digital archives, such as the Mass Observation Archive, Woolf Online and the BFI: Britain on Film archive, and learn to use digital platforms for learning, writing, and research. Indicative topics include: the everyday and the stream-of-consciousness novel, boredom in literature and film, avant-garde aesthetics and the extraordinary, archiving the everyday, war and the suspension of everyday life, gendered everyday practices, forms of protest, and non-western representations of the everyday.

Capturing the rhythms and practices of everyday life has been a central preoccupation for many twentieth-century authors and filmmakers, including Virginia Woolf, James Joyce, Luis Buñuel, Jean-Luc Godard, and others. On this module, you will study a selection of key literary and cinematic works to build a critical understanding of the different ways authors and filmmakers have responded to changes in everyday life across the twentieth century. Henri Lefebvre argues that everyday life as we now know it took shape in the 1910s and 20s, so the module will begin with works from that period such as Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse. We will then look at how European avant-garde movements of the early twentieth century, such as surrealism, aimed to defamiliarise the everyday, unveiling the extraordinary within the ordinary. We will then explore mid-twentieth century works, like Elizabeth Bowen’s The Heat of the Day and Alain Resnais’ film Hiroshima Mon Amour, that deal with the impact of total war on everyday life. The last part of the module will look at non-western works such as Yasujiro Ozu’s film Tokyo Story and The Master of Go (in translation) by Yasunari Kawabata, to explore everyday life and modernity as global theoretical constructs. Throughout, we will examine how social, political, and technological changes in everyday life underpin modern movements in literature and film. The module does not chart an evolution of everyday life through the early twentieth century, but instead focuses on different strategies that authors and filmmakers have used to grapple with the problems and potential of everyday life. Throughout the module, we will put our core texts in dialogue with interdisciplinary readings theorising everyday life, including the works of Henri Lefebvre, Michel de Certeau, and Harry Harootunian.

Learning Outcomes for module:

LO1: Demonstrate an understanding of everyday life as a theoretical construct emerging from cultural, political and technological modernity.
LO2: Critically reflect on a wide range of 20th century texts and visual media, in written and verbal form.
LO3: Examine the relationship between innovations in literary and visual form and the historico-cultural contexts from which they emerge.
LO4: Develop competencies in applying theoretical concepts to literary and cinematic texts, in written and verbal form.
LO5: Develop competencies in using digital tools for humanities research.

Full Details of Teaching and Assessment
2023/4, Trimester 2, FACE-TO-FACE, Edinburgh Napier University
Occurrence: 001
Primary mode of delivery: FACE-TO-FACE
Location of delivery: MERCHISTON
Partner: Edinburgh Napier University
Member of staff responsible for delivering module: Tara Thomson
Module Organiser:

Student Activity (Notional Equivalent Study Hours (NESH))
Mode of activityLearning & Teaching ActivityNESH (Study Hours)
Face To Face Tutorial 10
Face To Face Lecture 20
Independent Learning Guided independent study 170
Total Study Hours200
Expected Total Study Hours for Module200

Type of Assessment Weighting % LOs covered Week due Length in Hours/Words
Portfolio 50 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 12 HOURS= 00.00, WORDS= 2000
Project - Written 50 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 14/15 HOURS= 00.30, WORDS= 2500
Component 1 subtotal: 50
Component 2 subtotal: 50
Module subtotal: 100

Indicative References and Reading List - URL:
CLP09127 Everyday Life in 20th Century Literature and Film