Visual and Literary Cultures of Realism (EAS3181)

StaffProfessor Corinna Wagner - Convenor
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15
NQF Level6
Duration of Module Term 1: 11 weeks;

Module aims

• In this distinctly interdisciplinary module, you will focus on a series of key terms (dissection, the double, affect, etc.) in relation to specific literary texts (novel, short story, poem, autobiography, creative non-fiction), genres (gothic, sensation fiction, magical realism) and also visual materials (paintings, cartoons, photographs, engravings, sculpture).
• Each week, you will also look at historical materials (medical treatises, court cases) and contemporary critical theories (Freud, Foucault, Kristeva, Frederic Jameson, etc.) alongside the literary and visual texts.
• You will consider current debates about ‘truth’ and ‘alternative truth’, reality and the simulation of reality, the manipulation of images, as well as the place of affect and emotion in these debates.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Demonstrate a detailed knowledge about the historical contexts that gave rise to realist forms of expression
  • 2. Engage in significant critical debates around such topics as the relationship between medicine and the arts, crime, social reform, attitudes toward the body, technological progress, etc.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 3. Demonstrate an advanced ability to analyse literature and visual materials
  • 4. Demonstrate an advanced knowledge of relevant theoretical ideas, and how to use these to develop a deeper understanding of literary and visual texts

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 5. Through essay-writing, demonstrate appropriate research and bibliographic skills, an advanced capacity to construct a coherent, substantiated argument, and a capacity to write clear and correct prose
  • 6. Through the portfolio and presentations, demonstrate advanced communication skills

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:
• Dissection
• The Senses
• The Emotions and Affect
• The Photograph
• The Photograph 2
• Transparency
• The Type
• The Fragment
• Automatism
• The Copy
• Cruelty

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 activities33Seminars
Guided independent study33Study group preparation and meetings
Guided independent study70Seminar preparation (individual)
Guided independent study164Reading, research and essay preparation

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
Portfolio and presentation 357 pages of images, photographs, creative, autobiographical and/or critical writing and/or blog. 7 minute presentation on the portfolio 1-4, 6Oral feedback in seminar, supplemented by feedback sheet with opportunity for tutorial follow-up
Essay654000 words1-5Feedback 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
Portfolio and presentationPortfolio and presentation1-4, 6Referral/Deferral period
EssayEssay1-5Referral/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

• Corinna Wagner, ed., Gothic Evolutions (Broadview)
• Villiers de l'Isle-Adam, Tomorrow’s Eve (University of Illinois Press)
• Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida (Vintage)
• Herve Guibert, Ghost Image (U of Chicago P)
• Maggie Nelson, The Art of Cruelty (Norton)
• Haruki Murakami, ‘Confessions of a Shingawa Monkey’ in:

Module has an active ELE page?


Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

• ELE –

Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date


Key words search

Gothic, magical realism, realism, visual culture, photography, short stories, confession, creative non-fiction, the body