Estb. 1882

University of the Punjab

20th Century Prose

Code:         402
Title:          20th Century Prose
Rating:      3 Credit hours
This course focusses on Bertrand Russell’s Unpopular Essays and Seamus Heaney’s The Redress of Poetry.
Russell’s Unpopular Essays is a variable collection of philosophical notions on different aspects of modernity. It is a response to the growing dogmatism in modern philosophy. Covering a wide range of subjects, Russell excels as a philosopher, as a political thinker, as an educationist, and as an analyst of human life and character. 
Reaffirming his liberal values, Russell’s selection of essays champions ‘clear thinking’, dynamism of knowledge, intellectual progress, tentativeness of judgement in philosophy, and rejects false reasoning and compartmentalisation of philosophy into fixed moulds.
Heaney’s The Redress of Poetry comprises of his Oxford lectures on different aspects of poetry. The expanse of his critical outlook ranges from George Herbert to Elizabeth Bishop. The book is an appraisal and critique of the modes of perception and the poetic patterns devised by varied poets. Heaney describes this in his defence of the very title of his book: “to redress poetry is to know and celebrate it for its forcibleness as itself… not only as a matter of proffered argument and edifying content but as a matter of angelic potential, a motion of the soul.” Heaney’s criticism defines the space of poetry and its responsibility in shaping the sights and sounds of the life around us.
During the course., students should:
familiarise with Russell’s and Heaney’s style of prose;
be aware of the issues in the literary culture, which have affected Russell’s philosophical outlook and Heaney’s ideas about the functions of poetry;
be able to familiarise with the critical and theoretical questions raised by Heaney and Russell, and engage with the contexts from which they emerge, and
analyse Russell’s and Heaney’s prose through discussion and writing.
Upon completion of this course, students will be able to:
critically think about the term ‘philosophy’ beyond a mere definition;
relate philosophy to politics, religion and morality;
understand the difference between ‘change’ and ‘progress’; ‘dogmatism’ and ‘scepticism’;
differentiate between the subjective and objective perception of facts;
critically analyse the different modes of perception in varied poems;
differentiate a range of poetic genres and their purpose and significance in varied places and times, and
critique the strengths of Heaney’s prose style of writing.
Mid-term: 35%
End-term: 40%
Class discussion and presentations: 25%
Credit hours/ Marks:- 03

Reference Books

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