The University of Southampton
Courses

LANG1004 Reading Culture

Module Overview

This introductory course will give you an overview of the history of literary and cultural studies, and to make you aware of a range of different approaches to cultural texts.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

• introduce you to the history of literary and cultural criticism; introduce a range of critical theories and make you aware of their ideological implications; • encourage you to experiment in applying different critical theories to specific literary and cultural texts; • draw your attention to the specificity of different print and visual media; • make you aware of the ways in which the different modes of cultural criticism (literary, visual, linguistic, socio-political) interrelate, and help you appreciate the social role of culture and its importance for identity formation.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • the intellectual history of cultural criticism;
  • the role of culture in identity formation; the social and political functions of culture and criticism;
  • the importance of historical and national contexts in reading cultural texts;
  • the implications of working across cultures and across different cultural forms,
  • ethical issues involved in the study of culture.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • analyse complex material;
  • work independently, organising your time effectively.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • make distinctions between theories of production and consumption of culture;
  • critically evaluate the relationship between text and context;
  • select an appropriate critical method for the analysis of a specific text or texts.

Syllabus

This introductory module aims to give you an overview of the history of literary and cultural studies, and to make you aware of a range of different approaches to cultural texts. It aims to encourage you to experiment in choosing different critical approaches, and to learn to think consciously about which critical approach(s) might be appropriate in relation to which particular texts. It will train you in close textual reading as well as in analysis of the relationship between texts and their specific cultural contexts. You will be encouraged to take responsibility for selecting an appropriate critical method for the analysis of a specific text or texts. You will learn to analyse fiction, poetry, film, photography, and of course cultural criticism. In addition, the module will expose you to a range of texts in French, German, Spanish, and Portuguese, taught in English translation. You will be expected to read and cite texts in the particular language(s) you are studying in the original.

Special Features

Lectures will provide guidance on each topic, which you will then prepare through your own reading. In the seminars you will be expected to engage actively and to participate in discussions based on your own preparation of the material each week. Knowledge and understanding will be developed through your attendance at lectures, your independent study and your participation in seminars. The reading or viewing diary will invite you to put into practice the ways of thinking about culture discussed in lectures and seminars; it will also encourage you to engage with specific literary or visual texts in detail. The practice of textual analysis encouraged through the lectures and seminars will be tested in detail through the final essay, which will additional test your engagement with the ideas about culture developed throughout the module.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include • weekly lecture and seminar Learning activities include • small group work • individual presentations • independent learning

TypeHours
Preparation for scheduled sessions2
Seminar12
Lecture12
Revision40
Wider reading or practice40
Completion of assessment task40
Follow-up work4
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Hall, Stuart (ed.) (1997). Representation: Cultural Representations and Signifying Practices. 

Barry, Peter (1995). Beginning Theory: An Introduction to Literary and Cultural Theory. 

Rivkin, J. and Ryan, M. (1998). Literary Theory: An Introduction. 

Assessment

Assessment Strategy

Assessments designed to provide informal, on-module feedback • Group discussion in seminars

Summative

MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (2000 words) 60%
Reading diary  (2000 words) 40%

Referral

MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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