English and drama

Science and Literature

Module code: Q3279
Level 5
15 credits in autumn teaching
Teaching method: Seminar
Assessment modes: Coursework

This module explores how literary texts have engaged with science from the 19th Century to the present, from Edgar Allan Poe’s detective fiction to H.G. Wells’ 'The Time Machine' and Margaret Atwood’s 'Oryx and Crake'.

We will consider how literary modes and genres such as realism and utopia developed in dialogue with scientific knowledge and practices. We will discuss how science can be a form of literature, examining the roles of narrative, language and metaphor in scientific texts by authors such as Darwin.

In addition, we will analyse how literature and science have been imagined as different or overlapping forms of knowledge.

Module learning outcomes

  • Demonstrate understanding of the two-way interchanges that are possible between literature and science as adjacent forms of representation.
  • Demonstrate a critical, informed understanding of the historicity and changeability of ‘literature’ and ‘science’ as conceptual categories.
  • Demonstrate an ability to analyse scientific knowledge as a body of narratives and metaphors.
  • Demonstrate engagement with the range of texts studied throughout the module, and show awareness of their different historical and cultural contexts.