Course Descriptions

Course Descriptions

ELIT 143 Literature in Its Contexts

This course provides introduces students to some of the necessary historical, political, literary, religious, and mythic contexts for the study of British Literature. It introduces historical and cultural backgrounds important to all courses of the ELIT degree, as well as methods for reading literature critically and with due contextual awareness. It introduces students to key moments in Western literary history through key texts in British Literature. Excerpts from key texts (including the Old and New Testaments, the Odyssey, The Aeneid, the Metamorphosis), key historical moments across the British Isles, and important folk traditions, will be read through modern and contemporary literary reactions to these. By the end of the course students will have developed the beginning of a basic groundwork for further study of Literature in English.


ELIT 164 Concepts in Literary Studies

This course introduces students to a number of key concepts and theoretical issues in literary studies. As well as encountering the work of various literary critics and theorists, students also explore wider intellectual developments and their relationship with literature and literary studies. Topics covered may include the following: representation, narrative, voice, genre, the author, gender, ideology, culture, and race. By the end of the course, students are expected to be able to demonstrate an understanding of, and an ability to think critically about, the concepts covered. Students are also expected to be able to reflect critically on their own approaches to literary texts.


ELIT 152 Research & Writing Techniques

In this course, students explore and practice the various steps involved in researching and writing literary essays. Topics covered include taking notes, analysing primary texts, using secondary material, compiling a working bibliography, avoiding plagiarism, answering the question, preparing an outline, argumentation, and editing/proofreading. As well as developing new techniques, students also reflect on and develop their existing practices. By the end of the course, students are expected to have, and be able to put into practice, a clear understanding of what is required of them when researching and writing literary essays.


ELIT 227 Poetry and Poetics

This course aims to promote students’ understanding of poetry and poetics by developing their skills in reading poems of a wide variety of types from diverse historical periods. Students will explore various types of poetry, considering figurative language, prosodic features, sound patterns, verse and stanza forms, and the relationship between form and meaning in poetry. By the end of the course, students are expected to be able to demonstrate a clear understanding of these elements and an ability to apply this understanding to an interpretation of a given poem, using an appropriate critical vocabulary.


ELIT 230 Fiction and Narrative

In this course students encounter works of literary fiction of varying kinds and from a wide range of periods and contexts. Students explore both the beginnings of, and key developments in, narrative prose. Building on issues explored in Concepts in Literary Studies, the course aims to enhance students’ abilities to think critically about stories and storytelling and to analyse works of fiction in terms of (for example) language, themes, structure, characters, plot, setting, and narrative technique.


ELIT 246 Drama and Performance

In this course students encounter literary dramatic works of varying genres, from the beginnings of English drama in the Middle Ages to the Renaissance and the Restoration, up to the latest experiments in performative art. As well as developing techniques for analysing and interpreting works of literary drama, students explore topics such as dramatic genres and dramatic conventions. They also explore the relationship between performance and interpretation and, in particular, the ways in which performance not only affects interpretation but also constitutes a form of interpretation.


ELIT 256 Civil War, Restoration, Revolution

This course gives students a broad introduction to the literature and culture of the long eighteenth century, covering a period from the English Civil War of the 1640s to the French Revolution of 1789. Primary texts may be works of poetry, prose, or drama, and are studied in relation to their historical and cultural contexts. Topics covered may include the following: literature of the English Civil War; Milton’s Paradise Lost; Restoration drama; the flowering of satire; literature of the Enlightenment; English landscape writing; Neoclassicism and its emphasis on reason, harmony, and wit; the birth of the modern novel; the literature of sentiment and sensibility; the origins and development of the Gothic; the emergence of the Industrial Revolution.


ELIT 273 Medieval and Renaissance Literature

This course introduces students to the study of Medieval and Renaissance literary texts, and to some of the key genres and historical and cultural contexts of Medieval and Renaissance literature in English. Using thematic and/or chronological approaches, the course will also question both periodising labels and some of the common assumptions about the two periods and their literature. Themes to be explored may include the following: monsters and villains; Medieval and Renaissance varieties of love; the problem of the epic; pastoral; romance; humanism; the Reformation; manuscript and print cultures; and the discovery of new worlds. By the end of this course, students are expected to be able to demonstrate both a capacity to engage critically with the key course texts, and an understanding of significant social, political, and literary characteristics of the Medieval and Renaissance periods.


ELIT 359 Shakespeare

This course aims to develop students' skills in textual analysis and criticism through the close study of Shakespeare's plays and poetry. The principle dramatic genres (Comedy, History, Tragedy) will be addressed, as well as the 'Late' or 'Problem' plays, the Sonnets, and other poems. By the end of the course students will be expected to have gained a basic knowledge of Shakespeare’s relation to the world of theatre in his own time. They will have learned how to critically evaluate Shakespeare’s dramatic texts as works of literature and works for the theatre, as well as how to situate Shakespeare's poetry in terms of its contemporary contexts, classical precedents, and literary legacies.


ELIT 366 Victorian Literature

This course focuses on the prose and poetry of the Victorian period, using thematic and/or chronological approaches. Themes might include the following: the Condition of England Question; the Woman Question; morality; scientific and technological development; the significance of race and Empire. By the end of this course, students are expected to be able to demonstrate an understanding of and critical engagement with significant social, political, and literary characteristics of the Victorian period.


ELIT 377 Romantic Literature

The course is designed to give students a broad introduction to the study of Romantic literature. Primary texts may be works of poetry, prose, or drama, and will be studied in relation to their historical and cultural contexts. Topics covered may include the theory and practice of Romantic poetry and poetics; Romanticism and radicalism; responses to the French Revolution; the sublime; the emergence of science fiction; the development of the Gothic mode; social satire; and feminism and women’s writing.


ELIT 392 Literary Theory

The aim of this course is to introduce students to some of the main contexts and concepts of modern literary criticism and theory; to examine, in different ways, a number of different traditions of thought and critical practice that have contributed to the formation of current debates about the nature of literature, literary criticism, and theory. By the end of the course, students are expected to have gained a critical sense of the presuppositions and principles of literary criticism, and issues of knowledge, value, tradition, and ideology arising from the practice of reading. They will be able to apply this critical sense in cogent analyses of specific literary texts, demonstrating an appropriate critical terminology and an awareness of literature as a medium through which values are explored, affirmed, and debated.


ELIT 421 Literature and Modernity

This course focuses on literature written in English in the first half of the twentieth century. Primary texts may be works of fiction, poetry, or drama, and are explored in relation to their social, political, and cultural contexts. In particular, students will explore a range of British literary responses to modernity, in contexts such as those of European imperialism, world war, totalitarianism, and international and local varieties of modernism. By the end of the course, students are expected to be able to demonstrate an understanding of and critical engagement with the key literary characteristics of the writing of the first half of the twentieth century, as well as the historical and cultural contexts within which this writing needs to be situated.


ELIT 478 Post-War Literature

This course focuses on literature published since 1945. Primary texts may be works of fiction, poetry, or drama, and are explored in relation to their social, political, and cultural contexts. Themes may include the following: War and trauma; postmodernism; second-wave feminism; class; multiculturalism; metafiction. By the end of the course, students are expected to be able to demonstrate an awareness of key developments in the literature of this period, and to be able to think critically about literary representations of their own contemporary moment.