This Is My Letter To The World (EAS3247)

StaffProfessor Kei Miller - Convenor
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15
NQF Level6
Duration of Module Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module aims

During this module we will examine how the letter has been used as a formal device in novels, poems and essays; how it variously challenges or reinscribes fundamental ideas about the self, the nation, about literary transactions and literary production. Rather than gathering literary texts under the usual categories of time period, or place, we will be using ‘genre’ as our main prism of analysis. Even as these texts move in and out of other generic constructs (fiction, poetry, non-fiction), we will consider Derrida’s essay ‘The Law of Genre’ and the ways these texts perhaps participate in several genres rather than belonging neatly to any single one. Over time, we will also consider in particular how the letter has been used by postcolonial writers as a way to ‘write back’ to the canon, and then finally we will ask if recent technologies in social media have killed the letter, or given it a new life.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. demonstrate an informed appreciation of specific epistolary literary texts
  • 2. articulate the complex social conditions out of which letters emerge, and evaluate the reasons why authors might choose the letter as a literary device
  • 3. articulate and evaluate the significance of a range of epistolary texts through different theoretical perspectives (Genre theory, Postcolonialism, Remediation theory);

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 5. demonstrate an advanced ability to analyse literature and to relate their concerns and modes of representation to different social, political, economic and historical contexts;
  • 6. demonstrate advanced skills in the close formal, thematic, generic, comparative and authorial analysis of different kinds of epistolary texts;
  • 7. demonstrate advanced skills in the research and evaluation of relevant critical, historical and theoretical materials for the study of literature
  • 8. demonstrate an advanced ability to interrelate texts and discourses in relation to familiar and new conceptual frameworks, and an ability to link and synthesise different modes of analyses of relevant theoretical ideas;

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 9. through seminar work and presentations, demonstrate advanced oral communication skills, and an ability to work both individually and as a team;
  • 10. through essay-writing, demonstrate appropriate research and bibliographical skills, a capacity to construct a coherent, substantial argument, a capacity to write clear and correct prose and develop planning, organisational and problem solving skills;
  • 11. through research for seminars, presentations and essays, demonstrate advanced proficiency in identifying appropriate primary and secondary materials, information analysis and work on your own initiative.

Syllabus plan

Week-by-Week Outline:


Week 1



Week 2

Theories of Authorship


Week 3

The early novel and the letter


Week 4

War Time Letters – Writing the idea of nation/the self/ the search for authenticity



Week 5

The search for voice/the dialect letter


Week 6

‘Dear England’ – The Postcolonial project of writing back


Week 7

Diaspora and writing home.

James Berry - Lucy’s Letters


Week 8

The epistolary essay

Rilke – Letters to a Young Poet


Week 9

The epistolary essay contd.

A Small Place – Jamaica Kincaid


Week 10

The Letter in  a State of Change

We want to consider more recent theories, particularly those of Remediation and how this might help us to understand letters in a contemporary world of vast technological changes, particularly in social media. Is the email, or a facebook post, a new epistolary form?

E - Matt Beaumont


Week 11

Epistolary Spaces/ Recap


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 & Teaching Activities22seminars
Scheduled Learning & Teaching Activities11Contextual lectures/workshops/screenings
Scheduled Learning & Teaching Activities11Text based lectures
Guided Independent Study33Study group preparation and meetings
Guided Independent study70Seminar preparation (individual)
Guided Independent Study131Reading, research and essay preparation

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Short Essay15001-8, 10-11Feedback sheet with opportunity for tutorial follow-up

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
Class Letter Journal4030001-8, 10-11Feedback sheet with opportunity for tutorial follow up
Essay6030001-8, 10-11Feedback 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
Class Letter JournalClass Letter Journal1-8, 10-11Referral/deferral period
EssayEssay1-8, 10-11Referral/deferral period

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Core Reading

Pamela – Samuel Richardson

Shamela – Henry Fielding

Letters to a Young Poet – Rilke

A Small Place – Jamaica Kincaid

Sonny’s Letter/To Mr Willam Wordworth

E – Matt Beaumont

The Color Purple – Alice Walker

To The Letter: A Curious History of Correspondence – Simon Garfield

Letters from the Trenches – Jacqueline Wadsworth

Module has an active ELE page?


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Key words search

Literature, Epistolarity, Letters, Postcolonial Literature, Novel, Diaspora