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Unit information: Making it Anew: Ancient Stories and Creative Writing in 2020/21

Unit name Making it Anew: Ancient Stories and Creative Writing
Unit code ENGL10060
Credit points 20
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Ian Calvert
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of English
Faculty Faculty of Arts


This unit explores the ways in which contemporary writers reimagine ancient myths and stories from classical literature in novels, poetry, young adult fiction and films. It will explore how writers’ engagement with previous narratives reveals their creative choices and present-day concerns. Interactive lectures and workshops will give students an introduction to the practice of creative writing and give students an opportunity to develop their own creative writing.

When exploring contemporary literature and films, particular attention will be paid to the dialogue between ancient and modern constructions of gender and sexuality, and how contemporary adaptations of the classics seek to reclaim and foreground voices that are marginalised, ignored, or suppressed. Literary texts to be discussed may include: Colm Toibin’s House of Names, Pat Barker’s The Silence of the Girls, Madeline Miller’s Circe, Alice Oswald’s Memorial and Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson 'and The Lightning Thief. Films may include Joel Coen and Ethan Coen’s O Brother, Where Art Thou?

Students will have the opportunity to submit up to 700 words of draft material of their essay / creative writing and get feedback on this.

Intended learning outcomes

  1. Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of a diverse range of creative responses to classical stories and myths;
  2. Critically analyse a range of creative writing that draws on classical myths and stories;
  3. Critically reflect on creative writing processes based on classical materials;
  4. Demonstrate an awareness and understanding of the practice of creative writing as it relates to ancient stories and myths.

Teaching details

2 x one-hour lectures per week

1 x one-hour workshop / interactive lecture

Assessment Details

For this unit, students will complete one written assignment of 2,500 words (100% of the unit mark). The unit will be assessed on a pass/fail basis.

The assessment will either be:

1. One 2,500-essay (100%) [ILOs 1-4].


2. One 2,500-word work of creative writing (100%) [ILOs 1-4].

Reading and References

Hardwick, Lorna, and Christopher Stray, A Companion to Classical Receptions (Malden, MA, 2011)

Willis, Ika, Reception (2017)

Zajko, Vanda, and Miriam Leonard (eds), Laughing with Medusa: Classical Myth and Feminist Thought (Oxford, 2008)