Module Details

The information contained in this module specification was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change, either during the session because of unforeseen circumstances, or following review of the module at the end of the session. Queries about the module should be directed to the member of staff with responsibility for the module.
Code ENGL744
Coordinator Dr WG Slocombe
Year CATS Level Semester CATS Value
Session 2018-19 Level 7 FHEQ Second Semester 15


This module examines the role that technology has played in literature, and how literature engages with discourses of technology. Reading texts from the long-eighteenth century through to the present day—and considering Victorian representations of technology, mechanisation and industrialisation, the optimism of Golden Age SF, cyberpunk and internet culture, and techno-thrillers—we will explore: the social hopes and fears that representations of new technologies encode; what literature reveals about the relationship between humanity and technology (as tool, opportunity, threat, and so on); the extent to which technology is conceived of as a solution, as a problem, or as both simultaneously, in relation to particular cultural concerns; the ways in which technologies and representations of technologies can be understood in relation to issues such as rac e, gender, disability, sexuality, nationality, wealth, and power; the “fictions” that we tell ourselves about technology, and about its impact on society.

Learning Outcomes

Demonstrate a systematic understanding of the ways in which a given technology has been situated in relation to social conventions and expectations.

Demonstrate advanced skills in textual analysis of a range of texts with detailed attention to the ways in which technology is represented.

Analyse, evaluate, and contextualise the ways in which technologies and representations of technology reflect—and may reinforce—established social hierarchies.

Critically engage with academic research and/or theoretical discourses about technology, and relate these to specific texts.

Present their knowledge in a format appropriate to advanced academic study, and suitable for different audiences.


Specific texts can vary, but the module comprises a mix of fiction, film, and criticism from across a range of historical periods. Illustrative authors and critics studied include: William Gibson, Pat Cadigan, Isaac Asimov, Homer, Martin Heidegger, Charlie Brooker.

The syllabus covers:
  • Week 1: Questions Concerning Technology.
  • Week 2: The Problems of Literary Precursors.
Technologies Across Time [these topics are indicative, and can vary year-by-year]
  • Week 3: Solar Energy.
  • Week 4: Artificial Intelligence: From Automaton to Algorithm.
  • Week 5: Nuclear Culture.
Humanity & Technology
  • Week 6: Victorian Attitudes to Technol ogy.
  • Week 7: The Rise of the (Social) Machine.
  • Week 8: What do we do (to ourselves and each other) with Technology?
The Uneven Distribution of the Future
  • Week 9: Technological Optimism.
  • Week 10: “High Tech, Low Life”.
  • Week 11: The (Distributed) Future of Work.
  • Week 12: Student presentations.

Teaching and Learning Strategies

Seminar - Screening session (12 x 1hr seminars, 1 x 2hr seminars)

Teaching Schedule

  Lectures Seminars Tutorials Lab Practicals Fieldwork Placement Other TOTAL
Study Hours   14
Screening session (12 x 1hr seminars, 1 x 2hr seminars)
Timetable (if known)              
Private Study 136


EXAM Duration Timing
% of
Penalty for late
CONTINUOUS Duration Timing
% of
Penalty for late
Practical Assessment    Due in Week 7  50    Standard UoL penalty applies  Poster 
Practical Assessment  Fifteen minutes  Week 12  50    Standard UoL penalty applies  15 minute presentation Notes (applying to all assessments) - none 

Recommended Texts

Reading lists are managed at Click here to access the reading lists for this module.
Explanation of Reading List: