In this module, theoretical and critical texts are the primary focus of inquiry. Each lecture will interrogate an important theoretical or critical idea and will consider how it might be used to approach and inflect literary study. You will explore the implications of different theoretical perspectives and critical interventions, and will be encouraged in workshops to apply your understanding of these concepts to literary and visual texts, and to the world around you.
Topics addressed will vary from year to year, but will build on the historical, formal, and ethico-political debates that you were introduced to in first-year study. Lectures and workshops may cover subjects such as: Adaptation and Intermediality; Animal Studies; Cultural Materialism; Deconstruction; Historicism; Interdisciplinarity; Medical Humanities; Nation Theory; Orientalism; Thing Theory; Translation Theory. These topics will be introduced via a focus on core critical and theoretical texts – short, significant contributions to the history of ideas or to the practice of literary study.
You will be expected to apply the concepts covered here to the texts that you are studying in other modules or that you encounter independently. The ‘Theory and Criticism’ module thus provides you with critical and theoretical tools that will deepen and enhance your study of literature across your degree and beyond. To this end, the module offers training in how to apply theoretical and critical approaches in different contexts. A series of lectures on applied writing skills runs alongside the critical and theoretical provision, assisting you to develop a portfolio of writing that puts theory into practice in a variety of formats and contexts.
Over the course of the year, you will produce five short pieces of writing for your portfolio, submitting each one as formative work and receiving feedback from your tutor. You will then have the chance to develop and rework these writing tasks, selecting four out of the five for summative assessment in the Summer Term.
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This module aims to encourage you to think reflectively about the discipline of English and to see yourselves as active participants in its scholarly dialogues. It will develop your understanding of literary theory and criticism and help you to apply that understanding in different contexts, developing your writing skills.
On successful completion of the module, you will be able to:
Demonstrate an informed understanding of and engagement with a range of theoretical and critical approaches.
Apply critical and theoretical concepts and models to the analysis of literary and visual texts.
Develop arguments and ideas which make proficient use of critical and theoretical concepts.
Produce critical and effective writing in a range of modes and for a variety of audiences.
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You will be given the opportunity to hand in tasks for your portfolio as formative exercise in weeks 5 and 9 of the autumn and spring terms and week 4 summer term. You will receive feedback on these which can then be incorporated into your work for your assessed Portfolio.
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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
The Key text for this module is the Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism
Coronavirus (COVID-19): changes to courses
The 2020/21 academic year will start in September. We aim to deliver as much face-to-face teaching as we can, supported by high quality online alternatives where we must.
Find details of the measures we're planning to protect our community.