Visual and Literary Cultures of Realism (EAS3181)

StaffProfessor Corinna Wagner - Convenor
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15
NQF Level6
Duration of Module Term 1: 11 weeks;

Module aims

  • In this distinctly interdisciplinary module, we will focus on a series of rubrics or key terms: dissection, the senses, transparency, the type, the fragment, automatism, the copy, mapping, naturalism, the photograph. Each week, we will consider one of these terms in relation to specific literary texts (novel, short story, poems) and visual materials (paintings, cartoons, photographs, engravings, sculpture) as well as historical materials (medical treatises, court cases) and contemporary critical theories (Freud, Foucault, Frederic Jameson, Antony Vidler, etc.). This will allow you to embark on independent archival research, and to link those findings with current debates about ‘truth’ and ‘alternative truth’ and reality and the simulation of reality. 

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Demonstrate a detailed knowledge about the historical contexts that gave rise to realist forms of expression
  • 2. Engage in significant critical debates that we will address in this module around such topics as the relationship between science and the arts, crime, social reform, attitudes toward the body, urban planning, technological progress, etc.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 3. Demonstrate an advanced ability to analyse the literature and visual culture of the long nineteenth century
  • 4. Demonstrate an advanced knowledge of relevant theoretical ideas, and how to use these to develop a deeper understanding of literary and visual texts

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 5. Through essay-writing, demonstrate appropriate research and bibliographic skills, an advanced capacity to construct a coherent, substantiated argument, and a capacity to write clear and correct prose
  • 6. Through seminar work and presentations, demonstrate advanced communication skills, and an ability to work both individually and in groups

Syllabus plan

Whilst the content may vary from year to year, it is envisioned that it will cover some or all of the following topics:

  • Each week will be organised around a concept, such as ‘transparency’ or ‘the automaton’ or ‘the fragment’ or ‘the photograph,’ and will include visual and literary material.

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled learning and teaching activities33Seminars
Guided independent study33Study group preparation and meetings
Guided independent study70Seminar preparation (individual)
Guided independent study164Reading, research and essay preparation

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Presentation (individual or pair)357 minutes (individual) or 15 minutes (pair)1-6Oral feedback in seminar, supplemented by feedback sheet with opportunity for tutorial follow-up
Essay654000 words 1-6Feedback sheet with opportunity for tutorial follow-up

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Presentation (individual or pair)2000 word essay1-5Referral/Deferral period
EssayEssay1-6Referral/Deferral period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to submit a further assessment as necessary. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • George Eliot, The Lifted Veil
  • Mary Elizabeth Braddon, The Trail of the Serpent
  • Villiers de l'Isle-Adam, The Future Eve
  • Emile Zola, The Belly of Paris
  • Corinna Wagner, Gothic Evolutions (Broadview) 

Module has an active ELE page?


Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date


Key words search

Realism, visual culture, literature, truth