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Unit information: Critical Issues in 2015/16

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Unit name Critical Issues
Unit code ENGL20100
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. James
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of English
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

This unit is intended to enhance the sophistication and open-mindedness of students' critical responses to literature by exploring the potential relevance of various theoretical ideas to the reading of specific (primarily narrative) literary works. Topics studied may include: the act of reading, the figure of the author, the nature of narrative, the construction of character, metafiction, historical and cultural contexts, ideology, gender, tragedy, comedy, the uncanny, post-colonialism, beginnings and endings.


The course aim is to familiarise students with the critical and theoretical vocabulary of, and the concepts which are central to, some of the most influential schools of criticism and theory in the twentieth century, such as narrative theory, feminism, psychoanalysis, post-colonialism, and postmodernism.

Intended Learning Outcomes

Students should:

  1. gain a knowledge of a range of canonical literary texts from a variety of periods
  2. gain a knowledge of a diverse range of theoretical ideas
  3. gain an overview of the history of literary theory
  4. become more self-aware and discerning critical readers of, and writers about, literary texts
  5. be better able to appreciate modern literary criticism.

Teaching Information

1 x 2 hour seminar per week.

Assessment Information

1 x formative essay of 2000 words and 1 x summative essay of 3000 words.

Both formative and summative essays map onto ILOs 1-5.

Reading and References

Detailed reading lists will be provided by individual tutors prior to the start of teaching.

Andrew Bennett and Nicholas Royle, An Introduction to Literature, Criticism and Theory, 4th edn (Pearson Longman, 2009)