Languages for All
Short Courses
Your basket
Your account

Angels and Androgynes – Fantastical Beings in Modern Fiction

Course Times & Enrolment

Wednesdays from 25th September 2019 (Code LI272-101) Wednesdays from
25th September 2019 6:30pm - 8:20pm • (10 classes)
B1.11-2, Outreach Centre, Holyrood Campus • Tutor: David M. Wingrove AB (Magna) MA BFI Cert
This course is now closed for enrolments

Course Summary

The mundane reality of modern life has created a desire among writers and readers for characters who break all the rules – defying our normal categories of gender and age, nature and sexuality. From the Modernists of the early 20th century to the Urban Goth fantasists of today, we’ll explore this richly subversive theme. Authors include Virginia Woolf, Djuna Barnes, Truman Capote, Isak Dinesen, Graham Greene, Patrick White, Angela Carter and Tanith Lee.

Course Details

Pre-requisites for enrolment

No previous knowledge or study is required, although some interest in and knowledge of contemporary fiction is an advantage. Awareness of 20th century debates around gender and sexuality is useful but not essential. The maximum intake is 16.

Content of Course

Week 1 – Who (or What) Is That?!

Introduction to main themes with short readings and film clips.


Week 2 – Same Person, Different Sex

Virginia Woolf, Orlando


Week 3 – Dangerous Attractions

Djuna Barnes, Nightwood


Week 4 – Boys Will Be Girls

Truman Capote, Other Voices, Other Rooms


Week 5 – Ariel Variations

Isak Dinesen, Anecdotes of Destiny


Week 6 – Outrageous at Any Age

Graham Greene, Travels with My Aunt


Week 7 – Sex of the Angels

Patrick White, The Twyborn Affair (I)


Week 8 – Wishing on a Star

Patrick White, The Twyborn Affair (II)


Week 9 – Spreading Your Wings

Angela Carter, Nights at the Circus


Week 10 – Cities of Desire

Tanith Lee, Cruel Pink

Teaching method(s)

All sessions will be a mixture of lectures and group discussions – with handouts of questions for discussion given a week in advance. Classes will be supplemented by DVD clips where appropriate. Students will be encouraged (but not required) to give short individual presentations on specific points of interest.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  • identify contrasting literary styles and national schools
  • compare different portrayals of sexuality and gender
  • locate literary works within a cultural and social context
  • describe the impact of social forces on artistic creation
  • relate 20th and 21st century fiction to contemporary issues


Transferable skills

  • participating in group discussions
  • reading and understanding literary texts
  • identifying and describing relevant social issues
  • mediating and reconciling divergent points of view


Core Readings



Barnes, Djuna (2007) Nightwood, Faber & Faber, London


Capote, Truman (2004) Other Voices, Other Rooms, Penguin Modern Classics


Carter, Angela (1994) Nights at the Circus, Vintage Classics, London


Dinesen, Isak (2001) Anecdotes of Destiny, Penguin Modern Classics, London


Greene, Graham (1999) Travels with My Aunt, Vintage Classics, London


Lee, Tanith (2013) Cruel Pink, Immanion Press, Northampton


White, Patrick (1995) The Twyborn Affair, Vintage Classics, London


Woolf, Virginia (2019) Orlando. Penguin Modern Classics, London

Class Handouts

Lecture notes and discussion questions for all sessions. Supplementary reading from literary and sociological texts, as appropriate.


If you have questions regarding the course or enrolment, please contact COL Reception at Paterson's Land by email or by phone 0131 650 4400.

Student support

If you have a disability, learning difficulty or health condition which may affect your studies, please let us know by ticking the 'specific support needs' box on your course application form. This will allow us to make appropriate adjustments in advance and in accordance with your rights under the Equality Act 2010. For more information please visit the Student Support section of our website.