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Unit information: Dangerous Books in 2021/22

Unit name Dangerous Books
Unit code ENGL20023
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Crowley
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of English
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

Can works of literature only reflect society, or might they be a catalyst for reform? If a book has an urgent political message, can it also become a lasting work of art? Why might a work of literature be considered dangerous? In what circumstances are books banned? And conversely, what does this tell us about the power of literature, including in consciousness-raising or as a form of protest or resistance? This unit will explore these questions and others, through a reading of imaginative and non-fiction works from c. 1800 to 2000 that might be thought to constitute a ‘radical’ tradition. Texts to be studied will include fiction of various kinds, including socially realist works and political allegories; essays and polemics; and literary texts in English from other cultures, for example apartheid South Africa.

Students will be given the opportunity to submit a draft or outline of their final, summative essay of up to 1,500 words and to receive feedback on this.

Intended Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit students will have had an opportunity to

(1) develop a detailed knowledge and critical understanding of literary works in the nineteenth and twentieth century that might be thought to constitute a ‘radical’ tradition in the period;

(2) develop an in-depth understanding of some of the historical and political contexts that inform this literature;

(3) engage with questions about whether literature may be a didactic, dangerous, powerful or revolutionary medium and consider the implications of these ideas for related questions in aesthetics and reception;

(4) demonstrate the ability to analyse and evaluate differing critical accounts of the primary literature;

(5) demonstrate the ability to identify and evaluate pertinent evidence in order to illustrate/demonstrate a cogent argument;

(6) strengthen their ability to articulate their ideas through academic writing.

Teaching Information

Teaching will involve asynchronous and synchronous elements, including group discussion, research and writing activities, and peer dialogue. Students are expected to engage with the reading and participate fully with the weekly tasks and topics. Learning will be further supported through the opportunity for individual consultation.

Assessment Information

  • 1 x 3000 word essay (100%) [ILOs 1-6]


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. ENGL20023).

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.