The Unknown: Reading and Writing - EN604

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2017-18 2018-19
Canterbury Spring
View Timetable
6 30 (15) DR SL Wood




Not available as wild



The Unknown asks you to think creatively and analytically and to learn by a combination of careful reading and experimental writing. You will be able to read a variety of important literary and critical texts published over the last 200 years – mostly in the last 50 years. You will be asked to use the skills of critical analysis and close reading developed elsewhere in your degree in new ways and to take a fresh look at the study of literature. The course draws on the ideas writers have about writing, as well as on psychoanalysis, literary theory, fiction, poetry, drama and film. It asks you to think deeply about how, and why, you read and write.


This module appears in:

Contact hours

Ten 2-hour seminars plus five 1-hour lectures and five 1-hour workshops

Method of assessment

This module can be taken by standard coursework route or by dissertation. NB: students can only take ONE MODULE by dissertation in stage 3.

Module by standard coursework:

The module will be assessed on the basis of two pieces of writing (either a single piece of creative criticism, or a creative piece with a critical introduction of not less than 1000 words) of 3000 words each (45% for each piece, forming a total of 90%), with the remaining 10% coming from a seminar performance mark.

Module by dissertation:

Assessment will be in the form of:
1) a 500-word dissertation proposal (formative assessment and non-marked)
2) EITHER a single piece of creative critical writing (6000 words), OR a creative piece (4000 words) accompanied by a critical introduction of not less than 2000 words. (90%)
3) Seminar performance mark (in accordance with the criteria published in the School of English Undergraduate Handbook (10%)

Preliminary reading

Dyer, G. (2012), 'Hotel Oblivion' from Yoga for People Who Can’t Be Bothered to Do It. Canongate. Edinburgh.
Smith, A. (2016), ‘The Detainee’s Tale’ (2016) from Refugee Tales. ed. David Herd and Anna Pincus. Comma Press. Kent.
Cixous H. [2003], (2013)‘A Refugee’ from The Animal Question in Deconstruction, ed. Lynn Turner. Edinburgh University Press. Edinburgh.
Bennett, A. and N. Royle (2016) ‘Creative Writing’ from An Introduction to Literature, Literature, Criticism and Theory. Routledge. London.
Derrida, J. [1988] ‘"Che cos’è la poesia?" [“What is poetry?”]’ from Between the Blinds: A Derrida Reader, ed. Peggy Kamuf. Columbia University Press. New York.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

See the library reading list for this module (Medway)

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module students will be able to demonstrate the following subject specific learning outcomes:

• demonstrate wide-ranging knowledge of writings about the unknown;
• demonstrate an ability to relate the unknown to various forms of knowledge;
• demonstrate sophisticated analytic skills, including close textual analysis;
• demonstrate a thorough understanding of critical and creative approaches to writing;
• demonstrate an understanding of some of creative criticism's effects in the wider context of literature, criticism and theory
• demonstrate a capacity for creative and inventive use of language

On successful completion of this module students will be able to demonstrate the following generic learning outcomes:

• apply sophisticated close reading techniques to a range of literary and theoretical texts and to make productive and complex comparisons between them;
• display strong presentation skills and an ability to actively participate in group discussions;
• show an increased capacity for self-directed research and the ability to discuss, evaluate and creatively deploy creative, critical and theoretical perspectives making use of appropriate sources;
• frame and identify appropriate research questions and to construct original, clear and well-substantiated arguments.

In addition, students taking the module by dissertation will be able to:

marshal complex knowledge and demonstrate sophisticated creative and critical writing skills in the substantive form of a creative- critical dissertation

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