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ENGL2070 21st Century World Literatures

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Physiology Building 63 Room 358


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Dr Judith Seaboyer has taught courses at UQ from the large first-year gateway through to advanced undergraduate and honours. Her research is in contemporary responses to classical and Renaissance pastoral and in encouraging students to read more and better.

Judith has developed an effective course design (including a flipped classroom), to improve the quality and quantity of student reading of complex and at times confrontational literary texts for a number of courses in literary studies. She is a former winner of a national citation for Excellence in Teaching, a UQ Award for Excellence in Teaching and has received a UQ citation for improving student reading.

This advanced undergraduate course introduces students to examples of the contemporary novel in English from the United Kingdom and the United States. The authors studied are Mohsin Hamid (UK and Pakistan), Ian McEwan (UK), Ali Smith (UK), Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Nigeria and US) Barbara Kingsolver (US), and Jonathan Franzen (US). As her students consider particular literary themes that have surfaced and/or resurfaced in the first decade of the twenty-first century, and the kinds of social and political work done by fictions like those on this course, their critical researches will be framed according to several ways of reading our texts in all their “variousness, possibility, complexity and difficulty” (Lionel Trilling, The Liberal Imagination [1950]). They will:

• Think about reading fiction as an ethical activity and ask, to reword W. H. Auden, whether writing makes anything happen

• Examine how literary language functions in these novels,

• Consider the power of words

• Consider a range of contemporary theoretical approaches as they illuminate our specific texts.

This advanced undergraduate course attracts students majoring in literary studies as well as students seeking to enrich their programs in disciplines such as law, music, and the sciences. Enrolments are around 70. The course is (gently) flipped in that feedback-rich quizzes ensure students read primary and secondary materials before class. This means they come to lectures and tutorials ready for discussions and to read more critically. Surveys show student reading has increased exponentially since this teaching method was introduced.

Judith uses large-class engagement strategies so classes are more interactive. The one hour and twenty minutes is a mixture of lecture, discussion and student activities that allow students to assimilate what has been talked about and to explore new skills together. Students are very talkative in the lecture space, and will engage in small- and large-group discussion, which surprises tutors new to the course.

Week 2: Lecture on Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist

Week 7: Lecture of Barbara Kingsolver’s The Lacuna

Week 9: Lecture on Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom.


Physiology Building 63 Room 358


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