Criticism and Theory: Current Debates (EASM106)

StaffProfessor Regenia Gagnier -
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15.00
NQF Level7
Duration of Module Term 1: 11 weeks;

Module aims

This module aims to clarify and refine your individual position as a critic and theorist. It will immerse you in recent and current debates and help you understand what is at stake in each. Students themselves devise the syllabus at the first class meeting, based on The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism (ed. Leitch 2010), and recent topics have included: world literatures and cultures, the function of the arts in society, the relation of the individual to larger units, the impact of new technology on the senses, the uses of the past, and the critical methodologies of ethnicity, race, gender/sexuality, religion, ecology, nation, class, cosmopolis. The module will prepare students, especially those going on to the Ph.D. or into employment in the culture industries, with critical self-consciousness, sophistication and confidence, whatever your specialist medium, period, or genre. We shall read wide-ranging selections to prepare for discussion in seminar, but your research papers will be intensively researched according to your individual interests.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. demonstrate an advanced ability to apply a number of methodological frames to literary and other cultural forms;
  • 2. demonstrate an advanced capacity to assess the scope and limits of each method;
  • 3. demonstrate an advanced ability to clarify and refine their individual positions as critics and theorists;

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 4. demonstrate an advanced and autonomous ability to understand and analyse relevant theoretical ideas, and to apply these ideas to literary and other cultural forms;
  • 5. demonstrate an advanced ability to digest, select, and organise interdisciplinary material and to trace the development of debate across disciplinary boundaries;
  • 6. demonstrate an ability to make a contribution to the study of literature and culture;
  • 7. demonstrate an ability to devise, research, and execute a programme of critical research;

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 8. through seminar work and presentations, demonstrate advanced communication skills, and an ability to articulate their views convincingly both individually and in groups;
  • 9. through essay-writing, demonstrate advanced research and bibliographic skills, an advanced and intellectually mature capacity to construct a coherent, substantiated argument and to write clear and correct prose;
  • 10. research for seminars, essays, and presentations demonstrate an advanced proficiency in information retrieval and analysis;
  • 11. through research, seminar discussion, and essay writing demonstrate an advanced and intellectually mature capacity to question assumptions and to reflect critically on their own learning process;
  • 12. through the planning and organisation of independent research projects, demonstrate independence of thought and confidence in developing ideas and formulating questions.

Syllabus plan

1. Collective Construction of the syllabus: Below is simply an example of possible content.
2. Postcolonial Theory/ World Literatures
3. The Humanities in the public university
4. Digital Desires
5. Deep Ecologies
6. The Novel as a Genre
7. Presentations
8. Genders and Sexualities
9. Marxian Theories
10.Genomics and Biotechnologies
11. Presentations

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
Guided independent33study group meetings and preparation
Guided Independent70seminar preparation (independent)
Guided Independent175reading, research and essay preparation

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Collective introduction to a session of your choice15 minutes1-4, 8, 11Cohort feedback via seminars.
Individual oral report, preview of research report5 mins1-4, 8, 11Cohort feedback via seminars.
Individual oral report, preview of final essay5 mins1-4, 8, 11Cohort feedback via seminars.

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
Research Report 302500 words 1-4, 7, 9-11Feedback sheet with opportunity for tutorial follow-up
Formal Essay 705000 words1-7, 9-12Feedback sheet with opportunity for tutorial follow-up. Cohort feedback via seminars

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Research reportResearch Report1-4, 7, 9-11Referral/deferral period
EssayEssay1-7, 9-12Referral/deferral period

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Core Reading

Vincent Leitch, The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism (2010). In addition to assigned selections, all headnotes and bibliographies are useful and strongly recommended. Excerpts other than from Norton will be provided.

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Indicative learning resources - Other resources

Reading for week 1

Familiarize yourself with the resources of the Norton, so that you are prepared to express your particular critical and theoretical queries and interests during the first class meeting.

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Last revision date

June 2013

Key words search

Criticism, theory