Module Information

Module Identifier
WR20220
Module Title
Learning from the Novelists
Academic Year
2016/2017
Co-ordinator
Semester
Semester 1
External Examiners
  • Dr Paul McDonald (Senior Lecturer - University of Wolverhampton)
 
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Seminar 5 x 1 Hour Seminars
Lecture 5 x 1 Hour Lectures
Workshop 5 x 2 Hour Workshops
 

Assessment

Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Assignment 1:  A 1,500 word opening of a novel - based on one of the first three approaches (psychological and realist, historical, speculative), including techniques or themes drawn from the appropriate set text, together with a critical commentary (1,000 words) relating the story to the model text and to the approach it exemplifies. (Weighted 60% story and 40% commentary).  50%
Semester Assessment Assignment 2:  A 1,500 word opening of a novel - based on one of the last two approaches (crime and mystery, experimental and metafictional), including techniques or themes drawn from the appropriate set text, together with a critical commentary (1,000 words) relating the story to the model text and to the approach it exemplifies. (Weighted 60% story and 40% commentary).  50%
Supplementary Assessment Resit or resubmit failed elements  Resit or resubmit failed elements and/or make good any missing elements. 

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

1. Demonstrate knowledge of five approaches to fiction.

2. Apply elements drawn from these five approaches in their own writing.

3. Explain, in critical prose, the techniques and problems of the five approaches.

4. Carry out close redings of texts, showing how they exemplify the approaches characteristic of their genre.

Brief description

The module deals with five different approaches to fiction: psychological and realist; historical; speculative; crime and mystery; and experimental and metafictional. For each approach, they will study an exemplary text, aiming to learn as much as possible about its technical and artistic methods, while at the same time, through the comparison with other texts, enlarging their understanding of the many different possibilities of fictional writing. From these five approaches, they will choose two for their portfolios.

Aims

Having taken the Level 1 module WR10320 Introduction to Fiction, students should now have the basic technical knowledge to write fiction. This module aims to introduce them to a variety of different approaches to fiction by the use of set texts. They will be encouraged to consider texts not merely in terms of genres, but in terms of the conventions and ideas that underpin those genres. In this way, it is hoped they will broaden their outlook and be prepared to try new modes of writing they have not previously considered as well as understanding better the ones they are already familiar with. This will prepare them for subsequent modules on writing fiction.

Content

Teaching will be delivered through three components: lectures, seminars, and workshops (exact breakdown given below). Each lecture will introduce students to a new set text, and briefly explain its context in the literary genre to which it belongs, as well as outlining the ideas and assumptions that underlie that genre. Seminars will be used for discussion of the texts, which students will be expected to have studied closely. Alternating with the lectures and seminars, workshops will allow them to try out techniques and themes they have absorbed from the texts.

Outline of lecture, seminar and workshop topics:

1. Psychological and Realist Fiction
Fiction that explores individuals and relationships in a recognizable contemporary or near-contemporary world. The set text will exemplify an approach whose main aims include the accurate depiction of real life and understanding of human psychology. Discussion will focus on such issues as descriptive writing, character creation and the problems of reconciling the creation of a satisfying plot with plausibility.

2. Historical
Fiction that aims to explore individuals and relationships in a historically accurate reconstruction of the past. The set text will exemplify an approach similar to that of the first topic, but rooted in researched historical fact rather than contemporary reality. Discussion will include research methods, problems of language and the difficult balance between historical accuracy and readability.

3. Speculative
Fiction that seeks to change the conditions of reality through science and/or magic.The set text will exemplify an approach which places characters in a counterfactual context in order to speculate on scientific, social and cultural possibilities that do not currently exist, or to defamiliarize aspects of our own reality. Discussion will include the relationship between fantasy and science fiction, between 'hard' and 'soft' approaches to imaginary technologies, and between fiction and traditional folk or mythic themes.

4. Crime and Mystery
Fiction that explores and tries to deal with the challenge to society posed by transgressive behaviour. The set text will exemplify an approach that sees the threat posed by crime both as intrinsically exciting and as a problem to be solved by fictional means. Discussion will include the differences between psychological and action-based thrillers, on the use of suspense and mystery and on the plot demands of crime writing.

5. Experimental and Metafictional
Fiction that challenges or explores the structures of narrative.The set text will exemplify an approach that is not satisfied with the conventions of existing fictional genres, but seeks to replace, overturn or merely to expose them to scrutiny. Discussion will include the difficulties of reconciling these aims with the construction of a satisfying text, and the relationship of metafiction to humour.

Estimated workload:
Contact time: 20 hrs.
Preparation for classes: 60hrs
Supplementary reading: 50 hrs
Preparation of portfolios: 70hrs

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number n/a
Communication Oral - through workshop discussion Written - through writing portfolios
Improving own Learning and Performance Through independent reading, research, creative writing.
Information Technology Through wordprocessing work submitted for assessment and using digital resources for research.
Personal Development and Career planning By critical self-reflection and through the development of transferable communication and research skills.
Problem solving Through carrying out writing tasks, analysing and successfully employing fictional techniques.
Research skills Through carrying out background reading for fictional approaches, and necessary research for their own writing.
Subject Specific Skills Practical proficiency in creative writing and revision process. Close reading and analysis of texts.
Team work Through collaboration in workshops and seminars.

Notes

This module is at CQFW Level 5