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Unit information: Transformations in 2016/17

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Unit name Transformations
Unit code ENGL10046
Credit points 20
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Rosalind Powell
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of English
Faculty Faculty of Arts


This unit looks at how authors revise, challenge, engage, remake, parody, and are in dialogue with earlier texts and ideas. It will explore how both scholars and writers evaluate and historicise literature as a reflection on their own historical moments. By reading synchronically and diachronically, students will engage with and critique key ideas of influence and canonicity. They will also engage with the evaluation and criticism of literary lineages and developments. Students will be introduced to key theoretical texts in the study of reception, influence, and imitation, which will inform the tracing of cultural themes and attitudes and prepare them to look for forms of textual relation on subsequent years (in particular, I/5 period units Literature 1740-1900 and Literature 1900-present and H/6 transhistorical units). Possible themes for study include: creation; land and the environment (pastoral, empire, and ecocide); encounters; fables and tales; and epic.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students will be able to:

1. demonstrate knowledge and understanding of how authors respond to one another’s work, and of some of the cultural forces that shape those responses;

2. apply understanding of historical, cultural and intellectual contexts to readings of the relations between texts, demonstrating a good grasp of specific critical vocabulary (intertextuality, allusion, parody, pastiche, etc.);

3. discriminate between different critical perspectives on methods of analysing and describing relations between texts;

4. identify and present pertinent evidence to develop a cogent argument across a short piece and to develop the ability to write with concision while doing so;

5. demonstrate skills in textual analysis, argumentation, and critical interpretation using evidence from primary texts and secondary sources;

6. contribute to group tasks and discussions and demonstrate skills in oral presentation.

Teaching details

1 x two-hour seminar weekly.

Assessment Details

  • One 2500 word portfolio of short exercises (75%). [ILOs 1-5].
  • One group presentation with handout (25%) [ILOs 1-6].

Reading and References

Reading will be chiefly drawn from a course pack containing poems, short stories, excerpts of longer works and articles. Indicative content:

John Clare, ‘The Lament of Swordy Well’ (1832-7)

Alice Walker, ‘Am I Blue’

Antoine Galland, The Arabian Nights’ Entertainment (1704-17)

A.S. Byatt, The Djinn in the Nightingale’s Eye: Five Fairy Stories (1994)

Edward Said, Orientalism (1978)

Jonathan Bate, The Song of the Earth (2000)