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English Literature   >   McEwan: Atonement


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McEwan: Atonement

In this course Dr Allison Adler Kroll (PhD student, University of Oxford) explores Ian McEwan's 2001 novel, Atonement. The course begins with a discussion of the book's title – what is atonement? what is atoned for? – before moving on to discuss the epigraph from Austen's Northanger Abbey that precedes the novel proper. In the third and fourth modules, we think about the form and genre and the novel, before turning in the fifth module to think about some of the major characters – focusing especially on the implications of their names, e.g. Briony and the toxic plant white bryony, Cecilia and the Christian martyr St. Cecilia, Lola and Nabokov's Lolita. After that, in the sixth and seventh modules, we think about two of the major themes in the novel: metafiction and memory.


In this module, we provide a brief introduction to Ian McEwan himself before discussing the resonances of the word atonement. In Christian theology, Atonement describes the reconciliation of God and mankind through the death of Jesus. Who is the sacrificial victim here? who is being reconciled? and what is the crime for which reconciliation is needed?

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Adler Kroll, A. (2018, August 15). McEwan: Atonement - Beginnings [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Adler Kroll, A. "McEwan: Atonement – Beginnings." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 15 Aug 2018,


Dr Allison Adler Kroll

Dr Allison Adler Kroll

University of Oxford