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Dr Alistair Brown | Associate lecturer in English Literature; researching video games and literature

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New Essay

Through exploring the psychopathology of Capgras syndrome, in which a patient mistakes a loved one for an imposter, The Echo Maker offers a sustained meditation on the ways in which we project our own problems onto other people. As a reflection on the mysteries of consciousness, the novel offers some interesting if not especially new insights into the fuzzy boundaries between scientific and literary interpretations of the mind. Read more


Topics in Modernism

Thursday, August 22, 2013

They've arrived: copies of the distance learning textbook that I wrote for SIM University last year (SIM is the Singapore equivalent to our Open University).


Topics in Modernism is a Level 3 course exploring three modernist authors (Forster, Joyce, Woolf) and various issues that frame the period such as psychoanalysis, post-impressionist painting, and the growth of the city. Here's the blurb:
Through their aesthetic techniques, politics, and ideas, modernist writers responded to the advent of the twentieth century in radical and innovative ways. Topics in Modernism introduces students to a range of writings, both fictional and non-fictional, from the first quarter of the century, as well as some examples from the visual arts. Modernism was a multimedia enterprise, developing across the visual arts, political thought, and the sciences, as well as in literature. Thus Study Unit 1 conveys the diversity of modernism as it appears firstly in painting, and then in the essays and writings of a number of critics, scientists, psychologists and political theorists. These contexts provide the foundation for the remainder of the course, which studies the ways in which three British and Irish writers, E.M. Forster, Virginia Woolf, and James Joyce, provided their unique response to modernism. Study Unit 2 examines Forster’s late modernist novel A Passage to India, exploring the ways in which through his presentation of a racial and multicultural conflict Forster taps into deeper modernist concerns with realism and ethics. Study Unit 3 looks at the different genre of the short story, a form which reached its apotheosis during the modernist period. Whereas Forster examined the foreign land of India, Woolf and Joyce represent their local cities and domestic environments. Yet within these homely spaces they create fictions that articulate the new ways in which the self was perceived within society in the first half of the twentieth century.
Although I had to do it under a lot of pressure in amongst everything else, looking back it was a real pleasure to write. Now that the hard copies have arrived, I'm also pretty pleased with it on reading it again. Usually when I get the hard copy of work several months afterwards, I am aghast that I ever submitted anything so bad. However, this time I sort of feel I got the right tone - and hopefully the students at SIM University will think the same.

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