Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Literary Criticism and Theory: An Introduction

LEVEL 01 - Year 1 in Modular Undergraduate Course



DESCRIPTION This study-unit seeks to ease students’ transition to undergraduate studies in literature, making students aware of some of the main differences between studying English at Advanced Level and studying English at undergraduate level and providing an introduction to some of the skills and key resources that are indispensable at this level.

Students are first given a brief introduction to the different kinds of reference texts and electronic resources that are helpful when reading English at university. Paraphrasing skills, the appropriate formatting of footnotes and bibliographies, and some other essay writing skills are also considered.

The main part of the study-unit aims to provide first year undergraduates with a more comprehensive understanding of the history of English literature, tracing some of its developments from the Old English Period to the present, mainly through a discussion of extracts from the work of major authors from each period. Students will be encouraged to consider the extent to which the creation of the literature of the future is dependent on a dialogue with the literature of the past and how literary history puts the present in perspective.

The unit is therefore an opportunity for discovery, comparison and wider reading. After having followed this study-unit, students should be able to confidently assign single literary works to a context, and will have gained a clearer sense of what English literature consists of as well as of how different authors and texts are related to others chronologically and stylistically.

This study-unit also comprises a course on the development of English Literature. It also gives an introduction to some of the basic concepts of Literary Criticism focusing in particular on the concept of genre (the pastoral elegy and the epic). Reference will be made to the use of the pastoral elegy in English Literature and the appropriation of the epic style in poetry. Reference will be made to Milton’s Lycidas and Book II of Paradise Lost. The first part of the study-unit will also consider the notion of originality in the use of a literary convention. The second part will focus on the concept of Mimesis and the representation of reality in Literature with particular reference to the English novel. Notions of the representations of ‘reality’ in the development of the early modern novel will also be discussed. This study-unit will also introduce students to the basic modern theoretical concepts such as Russian Formalism, Structuralism, and Post-structuralism.

Reading List:

- Andrew Sanders, The Short Oxford History of English Literature (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994).
- Andrew Bennett and Nicholas Royle, This Thing Called Literature: Reading, Thinking, Writing (London: Routledge, 2015).
- Burrow Colin, Epic Romance : Homer to Milton (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993).
- G.S. Fraser, ‘Approaches to Lycidas ‘ in The Living Milton ed. F. Kermode (Routledge 1964).
- E. Auerbach, Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature (Princeton 1974).

Course Pack (provided at the beginning of the study-unit)


Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Resit Availability Weighting
Assignment SEM1 Yes 33%
Take Home Examination (3 Hours) SEM1 Yes 33%
Take Home Examination (3 Hours) SEM2 Yes 33%

LECTURER/S Stella Borg Barthet
Maria Frendo
Peter Vassallo

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It should be noted that all the information in the description above applies to study-units available during the academic year 2020/1. It may be subject to change in subsequent years.