The University of Southampton
Courses

ENGL1090 Theory & Criticism

Module Overview

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

Module Aims

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;

Learning Outcomes

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

Syllabus

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.

TypeHours
Seminar10
Lecture10
Tutorial2
Wider reading or practice18
Follow-up work10
Preparation for scheduled sessions50
Completion of assessment task50
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

The Norton Anthology of Theory & Criticism. 

Assessment

Formative

Reading task

Summative

MethodPercentage contribution
Critical commentary  (1000 words) 40%
Essay  (2000 words) 60%

Referral

MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (2000 words) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

Costs

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.

Share this module Share this on Facebook Share this on Google+ Share this on Twitter Share this on Weibo

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive cookies on the University of Southampton website.

×