Thinking Through Theory - EN337

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2019-20
Canterbury Spring
View Timetable
4 30 (15) MISS E Perry




Not available as wild



Critical theory and theoretical approaches to the interpretation of literary texts have become increasingly fundamental to English Studies, while also offering a number of rich and complex ways of reading and understanding society and culture more generally. In this course, we will introduce you to some key theoretical readings in five broad areas: feminism, psychoanalysis, Marxism, Post-Colonialism and Race, and Sexualities. Through these readings, we will invite you to make connections between theoretical approaches and to think about how they might inform your reading practices on this and other courses. The aim of this work is to help you to understand the significance and usefulness of theory on its own terms, as well as giving you a coherent grounding in the ways theoretical concepts help us to approach and understand literary and other texts. Through this, you will develop a sophisticated understanding of the dynamic relationship between theory and culture, literature and politics.


This module appears in:

Contact hours

This module will be taught through lectures and seminars.

Contact hours: 40
Private Study Hours: 260
Total Study Hours: 300

Method of assessment

Assignment 1 (20%): Written assignment (1,500 words)
Assignment 2 (30%): Research Essay (2,500 words)
Assignment 3 (20%): Students will give a seminar presentation on a theoretical text of their choice. Based on this, they will submit a piece of written work for assessment.(750 words)

Exam (30%): 2 hours

Indicative reading

Rivkin, Julie and Michael Ryan eds. 2017. Literary Theory - An Anthology, Third Edition (Blackwell Anthologies)

Selden, Raman, Peter Widdowson, and Peter Brooker. 2016. A Reader's Guide to Contemporary Literary Theory (Routledge)

Waugh, Patricia and Philip Rice eds. 2001. Modern Literary Theory: A Reader, Fourth Edition (Bloomsbury Academic)

Individual readings from these texts are likely to include:
Sigmund Freud, From The Uncanny (1919)
Karl Marx, From The German Ideology (1846)
Luce Irigaray, 'Sexual Difference' (1977)
Edward Said, From Culture and Imperialism (1993)
Judith Butler, From Bodies that Matter (1993)

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1 identify specific theoretical concepts, their historical and literary contexts;
2 understand and be able to accurately use the specific theoretical terminology appropriate to the five topics covered by the module;
3 understand the ways in which the theory enables consideration and discussion of a range of cultural and social phenomena;
4 write critically both about and with theory.

The intended generic learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1 identify and apply strategies of reading relevant to the material they encounter;
2 apply close reading techniques to theoretical texts, and theoretical concepts to literary texts;
3 effectively communicate orally;
4 begin self-directed research, and evaluate and creatively deploy secondary critical perspectives;
5 construct original, articulate, and well-substantiated arguments;
6 manage their time and workload effectively.

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