Module Identifier WR30620  
Academic Year 2004/2005  
Co-ordinator Dr Tiffany S Atkinson  
Semester Semester 2  
Course delivery Other   20 Hours 10 x 2 hour seminar/workshops  
Assessment TypeAssessment Length/DetailsProportion
Semester Assessment Portfolio of Writing Portfolio: (One portfolio of writing of 3,000 words)50%
Semester Assessment Critical Essay Essay: (One agreed critical essay of 2,000 words)50%

Learning outcomes

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

1. demonstrate a working awareness of the many formal techniques available for writring about issues of character, identity and relationship;

2. integrate their understanding of contemporary theory into a reflexive and innovative writing practice;

3. make constructive critical responses to their own and other students' writing, and engage in appropriate revisions of their own work;

4. demonstrate confident critical reflection on the relationship between theories of language, subjectivity and the writing process, especially as these relate to their own creative practice.


This module focuses on concepts of self and identity in writing; historically, culturally, and in students' own creative practive. It is designed to develop critical reflection on the relationship between subjectivity and language and to enable students to experiment with their writing 'voice' in the light of their theoretical reading. It is also designed to be of particular interest to students who wish to explore in their own work issues of character, identity and relationship, and to students who wish to develop versatility in voice and perspective across different genres.

Brief description

This module focuses on concepts of self and identity in writing; historically, culturally, and in students' own creative practice. It encourages critical reflection on the relationship between subjectivity and language, and enables students to experiment with their writing 'voice' in the light of their theoretical reading. It will benefit students interested in exploring issues of character, identity and relationship in their work, and those who wish to develop versatility in voice and perspective across different genres.


Seminar Programme:

1. Introduction - who am 'I' in writing?
Using a repertoire of starter exercises, this seminar will begin to explore the cultural assumptions and formal complexities involved in 'writing selves', while generating material for further writing.

2. Writing from Experience
From a selection of prompted memories, students will compare the process of telling their own and each other's stories. How do we edit, structure and fictionalise 'real' events to create an effective narrative? How are issues of authorial intention and truthfulness negotiated in this kind of writing?

3. First Person Techniques
This session will focus on the formal conventions of first person writing. Students will be required to bring their own favourite examples in poetry or prose, and to analyse how these texts convince readers of their speakers' 'reality'. Experimentation with these strategies, and awareness of their advantages and limitations, will form the basis of further focused writing from experience.

4. Realism and Omniscience
As readers we are so familiar with the well-rounded realist characters of novels such as Middlemarch and Tess of the D'Urbervilles that it is easy to forget that they are products of a particular writing process. Following close discussion of examples, students will create detailed 'character profiles' for a piece of third-person writing, or treat autobiographical material in the same manner. What are the advantages of 'objective' narration? Are realist attitudes towards selfhood adequate for the writing of contemporary consciousness?

5. Monologue
This seminar explores the power of voice as a dramatic device, using examples from Alan Bennett's Talking Heads and Jackie Kay's The Adoption Papers. Observing how language can be a point of tension between the spoken and unspoken, or between rational intention and the unconscious, students will write a monologue of their own in which a character gives something away (a fear, an aspect of their past, an unspoken desire) 'despite themselves'.

6. Dialogue and Relationship
This session will comprise a practical emphasis on techniques for writing dialogue, but also look more broadly at issues of relationship and conflict in the writing of selves. Following a discussion of James Joyce's 'The Dead' and the opening pages of Virginia Woolf's To The Lighthouse, students will script a family or social gathering in a manner which reveals the tensions between, and histories of, its members without overt authorial statement or stereotyping.

7-8. Writing from Outside
These seminars will consider how Western humanist writing has 'silenced' selves marginalised by race, gender, sexuality or class. How can new writing resist conventional constructions of identity and still be intelligible? Following discussion of examples by Mike Jenkins, Tony Harrison, Grace Nichols and Jeanette Winterson, students will discuss first or second hand experiences of alienation, disempowerment or stereotyping, and write an oppositional piece which employs an 'outsider's' perspective.

9-10. Interventions
The final seminars explore how writers can work intertextually (and often politically) by giving voice to a marginalised subject from another's work, as in J.M. Coetzee's Foe, Jean Rhys's Wide Sargasso Sea, or Carol Ann Duffy's The World and His Wife. Students will be invited to 'intervene' in a text of their choice, using any of the techniques practised throughout the module.

Reading Lists

** Should Be Purchased
Andrew Bennett and Nicholas Royle (2004) An Introduction to Literature, Criticism and Theory 3rd Edition: Longman 0582822955
Keith Green and Jill LeBihan (1996) Critical Theory and Practice: A Coursebook Routledge 041511439X
** Recommended Consultation
Peter Barry (2002) Beginning Theory: An introduction to literary and cultural theory (2nd edition) Manchester University Press
Catherine Belsey (1980) Critical Practice Routledge
Mark Currie (1998) Postmodern Narrative Theory Macmillan
Alison Donnell and Pauline Polkey (eds) (2000) Representing Lives: Women and Auto/biography Macmillan
John Singleton and Mary Luckhurst (2000) The Creative Writing Handbook (2nd edition) Macmillan


This module is at CQFW Level 6