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Fiction of the 1980s (10 credit points)

Course Times & Enrolment

Wednesdays from 15th April 2020 (Code LI330-301) Wednesdays from
15th April 2020 11:10am - 1:00pm • (10 classes)
Holyrood Campus • Tutor: Anya Clayworth BA (Hons) PhD
Sorry, this course is cancelled

Course Summary

Through this course we shall study a selection of novels written in the 1980s, exploring some of the key issues of the decade such as materialism, race, and duty. We shall examine newly translated literature from Latin America and consider its impact on literary culture, as well as exploring the way writers address societal changes, especially in relation to sexuality and the role of women in society.

Course Details

Content of Course

1. Yuppies, cocaine and anxiety: is the essence of 1980s’ writing? Text: Jay McInerney, Bright Lights, Big City.

2. Writing letters about the black woman’s experience: Walker’s. Pulitzer-winning banned book. Text: Alice Walker, The Color Purple.

3. Exploring the realities of love: Gabriel Garcia Marquez and the question of romance. Text: Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Love in the Time of Cholera.

4. Duty versus morality: Mr. Stevens and being an anachronism. Text: Kazuo Ishiguro, The Remains of the Day.

5. ‘My how her bodice strains’: Angela Carter’s flying circus. Text: Angela Carter, Nights at the Circus.

Learning outcomes

On completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  • Analyse and evaluate the characteristics of fiction from a specific decade through close reading, using recognised literary critical terminology and methodologies;

  • Articulate knowledge and understanding of conventions used by writers of this period;

  • Analyse contemporary responses and reactions to novels by evaluating and assessing ideas from non-literary texts such as criticism or journalism;

  • Apply knowledge of cultural, political and socio-historical contexts in arguments;

  • Construct, present and evaluate arguments coherently.


Core Readings


  • McInerney, Jay., 2007. Bright Lights, Big City. London: Bloomsbury.

  • Walker, Alice., 2017. The Color Purple. London: Phoenix.

  • Garcia Marquez, Gabriel., 2007. Love in Time of Cholera. Harmondsworth: Penguin.

  • Ishiguro, Kazuo., 2010. The Remains of the Day. London: Faber.

  • Carter, Angela., 2006. Nights at the Circus. London: Vintage.


  • Brooker, J., 2012. Literature of the 1980s: After the Watershed. Edinburgh: Edinburgh

  • University Press.

  • Miller, D.Q., 2018. American Literature in Transition, 1980-1990. Cambridge: Cambridge

  • University Press.

  • Horton, E., Tew, P. & Wilson, L., 2014. The 1980s: A Decade of Contemporary British

  • Fiction, London: Bloomsbury Academic.

  • Hutchinson, C., 2008. Reaganism, Thatcherism and the Social Novel. Basingstoke; New

  • York: Palgrave Macmillan.


10 credit courses have one assessment. Normally, the assessment is a 2000 word essay, worth 100% of the total mark, submitted by week 12. To pass, students must achieve a minimum of 40%. There are a small number of exceptions to this model which are identified in the Studying for Credit Guide.

Studying for Credit

If you choose to study for credit you will need to allocate significant time outwith classes for coursework and assessment preparation. Credit points gained from this course can count towards the Certificate of Higher Education.


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.