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Unit information: Author in Focus in 2015/16

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Unit name Author in Focus
Unit code ENGL10102
Credit points 10
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Mr. Jimmy Packham
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of English
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

This unit will provide an opportunity to discuss the works of one author in depth, paying attention to topics such as voice, style, 'the author', authorial presence and intention, imagination, the use or transformation of autobiographical material, and readership. The author to be discussed may, where practical, be chosen after consultation with students.


By focusing on a single author, this unit aims to raise various questions - such as the importance of authorship, of voice and style, and of authorial presence and intention - both in relation to a specific writer and more broadly for literary study. Students will have an opportunity, through studying one writer in depth, to consider his/her relationship to a particular historical period. The unit also offers an introduction to skills necessary for developing a specialist interest in the works of one writer; students will be expected to explore a range of criticism relevant to this author.

Intended Learning Outcomes

Students will have had an opportunity to study the works of one writer in relative depth, and through this to consider a range of questions relevant to writing and authorship. The unit will have introduced skills that are relevant for wider literary study.

Teaching Information

The unit will normally be taught in six three-hour seminars, utilising a range of teaching methods including short lectures by the tutor(s), formal and informal presentations by students, and small group discussion. Normally one whole seminar or sections of each seminar will be devoted to the assessed presentations.

Assessment Information

Students will be assessed through a formal seminar presentation, normally lasting 10-15 minutes. Assessment will be on the basis of preparatory work submitted in writing (of 1,800 words - 2,500 words) as well as on the presentation itself. The presentation should be on an aspect of the work of the author being studied in the unit, and should combine close reading of a primary text with commentary on one or two pieces of criticism relevant to it. This assignment is designed to assess students close reading and presentation skills, as well as their effective use of library and online resources and engagement with wider criticism.

Reading and References

A wide, but usually not comprehensive, range of reading related to this author will be chosen; the number and variety of texts will vary depending on the writer in question. For example, if the author were Thomas Middleton, up to five plays might be studied within the unit; if it were Mrs Gaskell, three or four of her novels might be appropriate  with a selection of shorter supporting texts and critical materials in either of these, and in other, cases. Since he is already the subject of a named unit at Level C, Shakespeare will not be among the potential authors for this unit.