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Approaches to Literature I: Writing Modernity - ENG00023C

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  • Department: English and Related Literature
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Deborah Russell
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: C
  • Academic year of delivery: 2024-25

Module summary

This module is a core foundational module for all First Year English Literature students, including combined-course students. It will help all students to engage with new “approaches” to literary studies as they encounter a range of texts and topics. It specifically addresses the relationship between modernity, ‘the modern’, and literary culture, working out from the early eighteenth century and across the nineteenth century before arriving at the twentieth. The module will examine a range of genres and forms, and will also introduce critical terms, concepts and theories that have been used to grapple with modernity and modern literature. The module is organised into four key topics, with titles such as “Modern Subjects”, “Science and Politics”, “Faith and Form”, “Modernism and the City”.

The module will help prepare students for the Spring Term module ‘Approaches to Literature II’ and also for ‘World Literature II’. It will also help to lay the foundations for second-year Intermediate modules focusing on eighteenth-century, Victorian, British, and American literature.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 1 2024-25

Module aims

The primary aim of the module is to introduce students to a range of texts, authors, genres and forms, enabling them to come to an understanding of the development of literary studies in relation to the modern period and debates about modernity.

Module learning outcomes

On successful completion of the module, you will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate a basic understanding of and engagement with the idea of “modernity” and a range of genres and forms from the eighteenth to twentieth century (including prose, poetry, drama, and film).

  2. Demonstrate a basic understanding of and engagement with some of the main cultural and historical contexts, including the debates around the rise of the novel, the formation of modern subjectivities, and the relationships between literary culture, science, politics and religion.

  3. Engage with key debates about and critical approaches to the question of modernity and the 'modern' period.

  4. Develop arguments and ideas which demonstrate university-level critical thinking, research, and writing skills.


Task Length % of module mark
1500 Word Essay 1
N/A 50
1500 Word Essay 2
N/A 50

Special assessment rules


Additional assessment information

Formative: In class workshopping of essay title, introduction, bibliography in weeks 5 and 9


Task Length % of module mark
2500 Word Essay
N/A 100

Module feedback

  • You will receive feedback on all assessed work within the University deadline, and will often receive it more quickly. The purpose of feedback is to inform your future work; it is provided in a pedagogical spirit, and the Department also offers you help in learning from your feedback. If you do not understand your feedback you can discuss it with your tutor or your supervisor, during their Open Office Hours.

  • For more information about the feedback you will receive for your work, see section 12 of the department's Guide to Assessment

Indicative reading

Daniel Defoe, Roxana (1724)

Mary Shelley, Frankenstein (1818)

Alfred Lord Tennyson, In Memoriam (1850)

Virginia Woolf, Mrs Dalloway (1925)

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.