Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Literary Theory: Debates and Dialogues
Academic Year
Semester 1
Other Staff

Course Delivery



Due to Covid-19 students should refer to the module Blackboard pages for assessment details

Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Coursework Portfolio submission of 3500 words, to be submitted two parts: the first piece of 1,500 words (25% of final mark) to be submitted in week 4 and the second piece of 2,000 words (75% of final mark) to be submitted at the end of week 10 of teaching.  100%
Supplementary Assessment Resubmit or resit failed elements and/or make good any missing elements 

Learning Outcomes

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

1. summarise and explain some of the basic concepts and key ideas underpinning a range of theoretical approaches;

2. distinguish between different theoretical approaches;

3. describe the impact of particular theoretical approaches on the practice of literary criticism;

4. employ elements of particular theoretical approaches in the critical analysis of passages from literary texts.


This module aims:

1. to introduce students to some of the major concerns in literary theory by working on specific problems of interpretation at the level of text and concept through reding examples.
2. to acquaint students with a range of important literary theorists.
3. to investigate how different theories interrelate, inform and confront other theoretical and literary texts
4. to prepare students for the applied theory module EN30120 Reading Theory/Reading Text

Brief description

An introductory week entitled 'Ways of Looking at a Literary Text' considers readings of a short literary text and discusses the underlying assumptions. Following this the module is divided into three sections, 'Language and Textuality', 'Gender and Sexuality' and 'Politics and History'.
Each week there are two lectures ? one outlining theoretical concepts, one focusing on theorized reading practice ? and a seminar, in which the tutor uses specific literary examples to discuss how to use, develop and challenge theory.


Week 1: Introduction: Ways of looking at a literary text.
Readings of a literary text from a range of theoretical perspectives chosen by the teaching team.

Week 2: Text and Author
Lectures on formalism and the notion of the intentional fallacy.
Seminar exploring key formalist ideas related to the primacy of the text.

Week 3: Literature in Systems
Lectures on structuralist approaches to texts and authors.
Seminar exploring systems-based thinking about what criticism should aim to do and how authors function.

Week 4: Literature beyond Systems
Lectures on poststructuralist notions of text and author.
Seminar exploring deconstruction as reading practice and the implications of poststructuralism for understanding the concept of the author.

Week 5 Reading the Unconscious
Lectures on psychoanalysis as theory and as reading practice.
Seminar exploring presuppositions and possibilities of reading literary with psychoanalytic texts.

Week 6 Reading Politically I
Lectures on feminist theory and feminist reading practices.
Seminar exploring presuppositions and possibilities of feminist readings.

Week 7 Reading Queerly
Lectures on queer theory and queer reading practices.
Seminar exploring presuppositions and possibilities of reading queerly.

Week 8 Reading Politically II
Lectures on Marxist theories and reading practices.
Seminar exploring presuppositions and possibilities of Marxist readings

Week9 Reading the World
Lectures on postcolonialism as theory and as reading practice.
Seminar exploring presuppositions and possibilities of postcolonial readings.

Week 10 Reading Environmentally
Lectures on ecocriticism as theory and as reading practice.
Seminar exploring presuppositions and possibilities of ecocritical readings.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Communication By developing a sustained critical argument (written) Through group discussions and seminar presentations (not assessed)
Improving own Learning and Performance Through independent research and reading.
Information Technology Using word processing packages and making use of Blackboard and other e-resources to research and access course documents and other materials.
Personal Development and Career planning Increased critical self-reflection and the development of transferable, ICT, and communication and research skills.
Problem solving By evaluative analysis and critical skills
Research skills Independent research and synthesizing information in an evaluative argument
Subject Specific Skills Reading, writing and research skills involved in the interrogation of literary texts, and the conceptual/theoretical analysis of works of imaginative literature in relation to a range of other non-literary texts.
Team work Group work in seminars and/or through the preparation of paired presentations for seminars.


This module is at CQFW Level 5