Skip to main content

Unit information: The Author as Character in 2021/22

Unit name The Author as Character
Unit code ENGL20048
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. John McTague
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of English
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

As readers we may or may not feel the presence of an author when we read, and much critical ink has been spilt attempting to define, identify, locate, kill or detect the ghostly presence of the author. What happens, however, when a literary text contains its ‘author’ in a more literal sense, as a character operating in a fictional world? This unit approaches the history of authorship by focussing on texts either purporting to be written by fictional characters (by authors such as Defoe, Swift, Robinson, or Beckett) or featuring fictionalised versions of ‘real’ authorial figures (such as Chaucer, Lessing, Joyce, Roth): particular attention will be paid to texts that deliberately or mischievously blur those boundaries. As well as thinking about authorship, students will also explore the development of kinds of literary character: is the authorial-character a special category? Does it change according to historical context, genre, or material form? Are characters always authors of sorts?

Intended Learning Outcomes

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

  1. demonstrate a detailed knowledge and critical understanding of literary works from across literary history and aspects of the history of authorship and characterization;
  2. show an in-depth knowledge of some of the literary and historical contexts in which this literature was produced;
  3. analyse and evaluate differing critical accounts of the primary literature;
  4. identify and evaluate pertinent evidence in order to illustrate/demonstrate a cogent argument;
  5. demonstrate skills in argumentation and academic writing, appropriate to level I/5.

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.

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.

Assessment Information

1 x 3000 word essay (100%) [ILOs 1-5]


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. ENGL20048).

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.