Approaches to Criticism (EAS1032)

StaffDr Mark Steven - Lecturer
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15
NQF Level4
Duration of Module Term 1: 11 weeks; Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module aims

  • To cover a significant range of critical and theoretical approaches to literary and film studies in the context of English Studies, including work on authorship, texts and reading, ideology and power, gender, sexuality, race, place and postcolonialism The module encourages you to recognise dialogue and dissent within the field, and introduces the ground rules for scholarship in the discipline of English Studies.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Demonstrate an appreciation of a range of important problems in textual interpretation
  • 2. Demonstrate an understanding of the broader context for and history of English Studies
  • 3. Demonstrate a capacity to apply a variety of methodologies and theoretical approaches to literary and film texts
  • 4. Demonstrate a basic appreciation of the concepts of 'authorship', 'textuality', 'ideology', 'discourse', 'subjectivity', 'performativity' and 'space and place' and of their role in our study of texts

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 5. Demonstrate a basic ability to understand and analyse theoretical ideas, and to apply these ideas to literary texts
  • 6. Demonstrate a basic ability to interrelate texts and discourses specific to their own discipline with issues in the wider context of cultural and intellectual history
  • 7. Demonstrate a basic ability to analyse contemporary debates in light of the history of the discipline

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 8. Through seminar work, demonstrate basic communication skills, and an ability to work both individually and in groups
  • 9. Through writing assessments, demonstrate appropriate research and bibliographic skills, a basic capacity to construct a coherent, substantiated argument, and a capacity to write clear and correct prose
  • 10. Through research for seminars and essays, demonstrate basic proficiency in information retrieval and analysis
  • 11. Through sitting their final examination, demonstrate basic proficiency in the use of memory and in the development, organisation, and expression of ideas under pressure of time

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:

Term 1:

  • Theory: Why it matters; what it's for; and what's required of you.
  • Marxism, Ideology, Power & Discourse (3 weeks)
  • Structuralism
  • Poststructuralism
  • Authorship
  • Feminism/Feminism II/Gender (3 weeks)
  • Film Screening

Term 2:

  • Psychoanalysis
  • Queer
  • Bodies
  • Race
  • Postcolonialism
  • Transnational/Transcultural
  • Historicism/New Historicism
  • Cultural Studies
  • Modernism/Post-Modernism
  • The Digital Human
  • Commons Discussion: The Student

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 activities20Lectures
Scheduled learning and teaching activities442-hour seminars
Scheduled learning and teaching1.5Film screening and Q&A session (2 hours). Attendance compulsory and assessed (Term 1)
Scheduled learning and teaching2Film screening and Q&A session (2 hours). Attendance compulsory and assessed (Term 1)
Guided independent study130.5Reading, research and essay preparation
Guided independent study80Seminar preparation (individual)
Guided independent study22Student-led study group activities 2-hour

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Glossary entry1000 words1, 4-7, 9-10Feedback sheet with opportunity for office hours 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
Essay451500 words1-7, 9-10Feedback sheet with opportunity for office hours follow-up
Examination451.5 hours1-7, 10-11Feedback sheet with opportunity for office hours follow-up
Seminar participation10Continuous8,10Oral feedback from tutor with opportunity for office hours follow-up

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Seminar participationRepeat study or Mitigation8,10Referral/Deferral period
ExaminationExamination 1.5 hours1-7, 9-11Referral/Deferral period
EssayEssay 1500 words1-7, 9-11Referral/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

Basic reading:

  • Module Pack available to students at the beginning of term (from Print Services).

Secondary Reading:

  • Peter Barry, Beginning Theory, 3rd edn. Manchester, 2000.
  • Catherine Belsey. Critical Practice. Routledge, 1980.
  • Andrew Bennett and Nicholas Royle. Introduction to Literature, Criticism and Theory. 3rd edn. Pearson, 2000.
  • Eagleton, Terry. The Function of Criticism. London; New York: Verso, 2005.
  • Literary Theory: An Introduction. Anniversary edn. Blackwell, 2008.
  • Vincent B. Leitch, William E. Cain, Laurie Finke, and Barbara Johnson, eds. The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. W.W.Norton, 2010
  • Philip Rice and Patricia Waugh, eds, Modern Literary Theory: A Reader. 4th edn. Arnold, 2001.
  • Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan, eds. Literary Theory: An Anthology. 2nd ed. Oxford: Blackwell, 2004.
  • Peter Widdowson. Literature. Routledge, 1999

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Key words search

Critical Theory, Theory, Criticism, Marxism, Ideology, Hegemony, Poststructuralism, Discourse, Postmodernism, New Historicism, Cultural Studies, Authorship, Psychoanalysis, Feminism, Gender, Queer Theory, Body Studies, Disability Studies, Race, Masculinity, Transnationalism, Postcolonialism, The Student