ENGL1090 Theory & Criticism
The module asks big questions. What do we do when we interpret literature and culture, and how can we analyse our practices of interpretation? Can anything be a text, and if so what do we understand by ‘literature’? How does literature shape our identity, and does our identity shape how we read literature? Thinking about how we think about a text is dizzying but exhilarating, and crucial to the art and practice of reading and criticism. This module will introduce you to a range of thinkers who are fascinated by these questions, and encourage you to develop answers of your own. You will encounter a variety of theoretical approaches, and consider their insights and limitations. By doing so, you will develop the intellectual tools necessary to make sophisticated arguments, and discover the pleasure of becoming a self-reflexive reader and writer and a theoretically-engaged critical thinker.
Aims and Objectives
The aims of this module are to: • introduce you to some of the key theoretical debates and critical positions in literary studies; • enable you to understand the terms and implications of various theoretical approaches and apply them to texts in creative ways; • challenge your assumptions about literary study;
Knowledge and Understanding
Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:
- • The history and ideological contexts of various literary and critical approaches
- • The key theoretical and analytical issues raised by the study of text
- • The ways in which literary and critical theories can be applied to other disciplines and fields
Transferable and Generic Skills
Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:
- • Evaluate and contrast critical positions and their implications for literary and cultural studies;
- • Engage closely with a critical essay, analysing its argument, implications, and rhetorical style
- • Articulate your critical understanding of complex ideas
This module poses crucial questions about the production, meaning and reception of literature. These questions arise from both ‘literary’ and ‘non-literary’ texts, and the syllabus will examine some of the ways in which they have been addressed by critics and theorists from a diverse range of intellectual traditions. The essays you will read will lay the groundwork for studying texts throughout your degree. Through reading these essays closely and with care, you will familiarise yourself with the critical and conceptual work that has been most important in addressing these basic questions of literary study. Topics and questions for this module might include: What is an author? What is a book? Do we mean what we say? Can texts mean anything we want them to mean? What is the relationship between texts and the ‘real world’? Seminar discussion will prompt wider questions, such as: Who is a human? What is an animal? What are feelings? What is art? Do we have agency over our lives? Topics you might study to answer them may include: class, history, the body, the psyche, race, postcolonialism, sexuality, desire, the commodity, and value.
Learning and Teaching
Teaching and learning methods
Teaching methods include: • Lectures which construct historical outlines, and introduce theoretical positions, issues and problems; • Seminars that include presentations, close readings, and writing exercises; • Individual meetings with a tutor upon request (available twice weekly in office hours, or at other times to be arranged), especially to discuss written work before and after it is submitted. Learning activities include: • Individual reading of critical essays and further independent research; • Seminars that include short presentations, group work, and collaborative discussions; • Formative written analyses of theoretical texts, and the writing of essays.
|Preparation for scheduled sessions||50|
|Wider reading or practice||18|
|Completion of assessment task||50|
|Total study time||150|
Resources & Reading list
The Norton Anthology of Theory & Criticism.
|Critical commentary (1000 words)||40%|
|Essay (2000 words)||60%|
|Essay (2000 words)||100%|
Repeat type: Internal & External
Costs associated with this module
Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.
In addition to this, students registered for this module typically also have to pay for:
Books and Stationery equipment
Costs for this module will not exceed £50
Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at www.calendar.soton.ac.uk.