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Unit information: Writing in the Elements: Earth, Air, Fire, Water, Uranium in 2021/22

Unit name Writing in the Elements: Earth, Air, Fire, Water, Uranium
Unit code ENGLM0067
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Professor. Pite
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of English
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

‘Writing in the Elements: Earth, Air, Fire, Water, Uranium’ responds to the current emergence of elemental writing and ecocriticism – creative and critical literature, that is, which engages with the natural world through a focus on the elements – either the four elements of classical and renaissance worlds, or those of modern science. From attending to these, new perspectives emerge on the material world, on human beings’ relation to and participation in the material world, on the mythical, the scientific and the relationship between them, and on how writing may bring the elemental into the cultural. The course of seminars will range across periods and topics, including earth writing, nuclear fictions, literature from liminal and marginal territories. Poetry by Alice Oswald will be discussed alongside essays by Wes Jackson and the nature writing of Barbara Hurd. There may be an opportunity to further enquiry into the elements via a field trip.

Intended Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students will be able to:

1. apply an understanding of elemental ecocriticism to issues articulated in literary texts;

2. situate readings informed by elemental ecocriticism alongside other critical views (such as posthumanism, the new materialism and the new historicism);

3. identify and present pertinent evidence to develop a cogent argument in an academic essay appropriate to level M

4. reflect, via a piece of creative / personal writing, on the impact of elemental ecocriticism on their perception of the natural world

Teaching Information

Teaching will be delivered through a combination of synchronous and asynchronous activities. These can include seminars, lectures, class discussion, formative tasks, small group work, and self-directed exercises.

Assessment Information

1 x 4000 word summative assignment (100%) [ ILOs 1-3] 1 x 1000 word presentation


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How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.