The Structures of Realism (EASM133)

StaffDr Wendy O'Shea-Meddour - Lecturer
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15.00
NQF Level7
Duration of Module Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module aims

The aim of this creative writing module is to familiarise students with the ongoing traditions and techniques of classical realist fiction and to enable them to create their own work. English writing from the early 1960s onwards will be used to understand the conventions and techniques which underpin a writing style which aims at a transparent rendering of life and the world. Students will be encouraged to examine particular aspects of realist technique, to enlarge their own technical capacities, to evolve principles of creativity in the service of creating a realist illusion, and to create original, imitative and innovative work through an understanding of classical and developing realist approaches. The module is intended for these committed to developing their own writing. The module is based on a range of reading in different schools and traditions, but students will be encouraged to read extensively, following their own interests and exploring well beyond the set texts. Students will be expected to investigate individual writers and individual schools, both classic and still evolving. Analysis of the set texts will take the form of technical analyses of the craft of writing as well as critical response. It is intended that the module will provide students with an environment of reading and response in which existing writing skills may be developed towards a professional standard. Intensive weekly writing workshops will be established to discuss students' own work alongside a developing understanding of the historical and creative possibilities of realism, its unexamined conventions as well as its characteristic techniques.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. demonstrate an awareness and understanding of a range of realist approaches to fiction
  • 2. demonstrate an understanding of realist conventions, including such matters as description, dialogue, point of view, form, plot and structures of characterisation.
  • 3. demonstrate an ability to analyse realist literary work according to a technical understanding and an awareness of language.
  • 4. . demonstrate an ability to evolve student’s own work with reference to realist conventions
  • 5. demonstrate an ability to evolve student’s own work with reference to realist conventions
  • 6. demonstrate organisational skills in planning and scheduling creative work

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 7. demonstrate an advanced and intellectually mature appreciation of formal techniques and imaginative expression in creative writing.
  • 8. present sustained and persuasive written and oral arguments concerning their own creative writing and the work of other authors, both peers and published authors, and to use such ideas relating to their own work to develop their creative ideas
  • 9. demonstrate an ability to independently originate creative ideas and to respond positively to appropriate criticism of their work
  • 10. demonstrate a consistent ability to create imaginative written work in a variety of forms [appropriate to genres/styles covered by the module]

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 11. through seminar work, demonstrate advanced communication skills, and an ability to work both individually and in groups
  • 12. through writing essays and creative work, demonstrate advanced research and bibliographic skills, an advanced and intellectually mature capacity to construct a coherent, substantiated argument, advanced skills of creative expression, and a capacity to write clear and correct prose
  • 13. through research, seminar work and research for written pieces, demonstrate an awareness of readership, publishability, including professional accomplishment, and an understanding of the purpose of formal structures, layouts, and techniques.

Syllabus plan

1. Introduction - What is realism?

2-3.  Translating the world

3-4. Structures of character

5-6.Dialogue and Point of View

7-8.Evolving dynamic narrative

9-11.Workshops and feedback sessions of student work and evolved principles

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 independant33Study Group Meetings and Preparation
Guided independent70Seminar preparation (individual)
Guided Independent 17Reading, research and essay preparation

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Piece of fiction 1,500-2000 words1, 2, 4, 6, 7, 9, 12, 13Feedback sheet with opportunity for tutorial follow-up.
Essay1000 words1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 12, 13Feedback sheet with opportunity for tutorial follow-up.
Weekly writing assignments 1000 words1, 2, 4-13Cohort 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
Piece of original fiction 755000 words1, 2, 4, 6, 7, 9, 12, 13Feedback sheet with opportunity for tutorial follow-up
Self-reflective essay 251500 words1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 12, 13Feedback 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
Piece of original fiction Piece of original fiction 1, 2, 4, 6, 7, 9, 12, 13Referral/deferral period
Self-reflective essay Self-reflective essay 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 12, 13Referral/deferral period

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Students are expected to read and discuss examples of realist fiction, including: Kazuo Ishiguro, Remains of the Day; Alice Munro, Runaway; Edward St Aubyn, Mother’s Milk; JM Coetzee, Disgrace; Anne Enright, The Gathering; Peter Carey, True History of the Kelly Gang

In addition, students will read at least two additional novels or short story collections for the purposes of the unassessed essay on a specific technical feature.

Theoretical texts:

Gardner, John, On Becoming a Novelist

McCarthy, Tom, ‘Writing Machines’ (London Review of Books, 18 December 2014)

Prose, Francine, How to Read Like A Writer (Harper Perennial)

Wood, James, How Fiction Works (Vintage, 2009)

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Key words search

Creative Writing; Realism