Joint-honours information for 2016 entry

Critical Approaches 1

Module Q3120

Module details for 2016/17.

15 credits

FHEQ Level 4

Module Outline

How do we go about reading and interpreting a literary text? What are we trying to do when we analyse a work of literature: are we trying to establish one correct interpretation? How do we decide that some interpretations are more valuable than others? Do we need to understand the original intentions of the author to understand what something means? Is it necessary to understand the historical or political situation from which a work emerged? Do readers interpret texts differently at different historical moments? Could our interpretations of texts be affected by forces beyond our control, forces such as the workings of language, unconscious desires, class, race, gender, sexuality or nationality? How is it that some texts, Shakespeare's plays, for instance, are highly valued by our culture, while others have been lost or devalued? Who or what decides which literature will survive to be read and studied on English courses?

Critical Approaches 1 will suggest some ways of answering these large and difficult questions about interpretation, and aims to help you think in new ways about the work you do for your English degree at Sussex. In the autumn you will study the themes: "What is literature? Why does it matter'", "Theories of Language and Meaning: Structuralism and Poststructuralism" and "Ideology and Discourse." Throughout the module you will read critical and theoretical essays and literary works that contribute to your understanding of these themes. The module will examine many different aspects of literary theory including new criticism, Marxism, structuralism, post-structuralism, deconstruction, feminism, post-colonial theory, psychoanalysis and queer theory.

Module learning outcomes

Understand central issues in modern literary theory and criticism and put them into a wider theoretical and historical context.

Close read and analyse critical essays and arguments.

Understand the ways in which these different theoretical perspectives can contribute to a reader's interpretation of fiction, poetry, plays, and culture.

Research, design and write a well-structured essay.

Portfolio (3000 words)Winter Vacation Week 1 Thu 16:000.00%

Submission deadlines may vary for different types of assignment/groups of students.


Coursework components (if listed) total 100% of the overall coursework weighting value.

TermMethodDurationWeek pattern
Autumn SemesterLecture1 hour111111111111
Autumn SemesterSeminar2 hours111111111111

How to read the week pattern

The numbers indicate the weeks of the term and how many events take place each week.

Dr Rachel O'Connell

Convenor, Assess convenor

Dr Andrea Haslanger

Assess convenor

Ms Emma Carlyle

Assess convenor

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