Legends of the Fall (THE2042)

StaffProfessor Siam Bhayro - Convenor
Professor Karen Edwards - Convenor
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15
NQF Level
Duration of Module Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module aims

This module will give students an opportunity to combine two, often distinct approaches to a crucial issue, the origin, nature and purpose of the presence of evil in the world from the perspective of the Christian doctrine of the Fall. In bringing together the fields of English Literature and Theology, students will begin to understand the value of a cross-disciplinary approach and, it is hoped, appreciate the limitations of a one-discipline approach in answering fundamental questions about human experience.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. appreciate why and how the relevant works of English Literature treat the issue of the Fall;
  • 2. understand the significance of ‘orthodox’ and ‘unorthodox’ treatments of the Fall in these sources;
  • 3. access these sources on both the literary and theological levels.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 4. demonstrate an appreciation of the theological and literary contexts of the primary sources;
  • 5. access and understand secondary sources in the fields of English Literature and Theology;
  • 6. write an essay using a cross-disciplinary approach.

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 7. undertake guided work including preparatory readings;
  • 8. make thorough use of selected written sources, with some guidance;
  • 9. demonstrate consistency and rigour in method and argument;
  • 10. communicate clearly, orally in seminars, and in writing in the essay;
  • 11. participate in seminars in an appropriate, sensitive and generous manner.

Syllabus plan

Week 1 Introduction: Issues and Foundational Texts, Origin of Evil (Genesis 3; the Golden Age; story of Cupid and Psyche)

Weeks 2-3 Satan (hell, punishment, guilt): Paradise Lost, Books 1-2; Lawrence

Weeks 4-5 God (vengeance/love, chance): Paradise Lost, Book 3; Frost

Weeks 7-8 Innocence (paradise, sexuality, violence): Paradise Lost, Books 4-7; Golding; Rochester

Weeks 9-10 Free will (temptation, choice): Paradise Lost, Books 8-9; Othello; Conrad

Week 11 Living in the Fallen World (death): Paradise Lost, Books 10-12; Barthelme; Larkin

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 activities33eleven 2-hour classes and eleven 1-hour seminars
Guided independent study267private study

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay4,000 words1–10written and oral (in tutorial)

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
Essay1004,000 words1–10written

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
EssayEssay1–10Referral/Deferral period

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Basic reading:

Indicative Primary Texts

John Milton, Paradise Lost (Penguin)

William Golding, Lord of the Flies (Faber and Faber)

Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness (Oxford World’s Classics)


Indicative Secondary Texts

Alter, Robert, and Frank Kermode, eds. The Literary Guide to the Bible (1987)

The Blackwell Companion to the Bible in English Literature, ed. Rebecca Lemon et al. (2009)

Coulson, John. Religion and Imagination (1981)

Danielson, Dennis. Milton’s Good God (1982)

Delumeau, Jean. History of Paradise: The Garden of Eden in Myth and Tradition (2000)

Forsyth, Neil. The Old Enemy: Satan and the Combat Myth (1987)

Levin, Harry. The Myth of the Golden Age in the Renaissance (1972)

Neiman, Susan. Evil in Modern Thought: An Alternative History of Philosophy (2002)

The Oxford Handbook of English Literature and Theology, ed. Andrew W. Hass et al. (2007)

Spivack, Bernard. Shakespeare and the Allegory of Evil (1958)

Wright, T.R. Theology and Literature (1988)

Module has an active ELE page?


Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Milton Reading Room  http://www.dartmouth.edu/~milton/reading_room/

Indicative learning resources - Other resources


Literature and Theology (journal)

Available as distance learning?