The Unknown: Reading and Writing Creative Non-Fiction and Autofiction - ENGL6040

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2024 to 2025
Autumn Term 6 30 (15) Declan Wiffen checkmark-circle


The Unknown asks you to think creatively and analytically about creative non-fiction and autofiction. This module asks how these forms explore and value alternative modes to epistemology, including embracing those things which are difficult to put into language or 'unknown'. You will explore the techniques writers use when writing about their own lives, analyse the success of these techniques, and discuss the ethics of various forms of ‘life writing’. You will then attempt your own writing in one of these genres or a critical commentary on a topic from the module. Many of the texts we read will be contemporary, but there will also be important literary and critical works from the last 200 years, including on topics such as psychoanalysis, desire, ecocriticism, and the non-human. The Unknown asks you to think deeply about how, and why, you read and write and invites you to explore these questions creatively and critically.


Contact hours

Total contact hours: 32
Private study hours: 268
Total study hours: 300

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods:
Written assignment 1 (3,000 words) 40%
Written assignment 2 (3,000 words) 40%
Seminar Participation 20%

Reassessment methods:
100% Coursework (4,500 words)

Indicative reading

The University is committed to ensuring that core reading materials are in accessible electronic format in line with the Kent Inclusive Practices. The most up to date reading list for each module can be found on the university's reading list pages:

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. demonstrate wide-ranging knowledge of writings about autofiction, creative non-fiction, and alternative modes of knowing, including 'the unknown'.
2 demonstrate an ability to relate the unknown to various forms of knowledge;
3 demonstrate sophisticated analytic skills, including close textual analysis;
4 demonstrate a thorough understanding of critical and creative approaches to writing;
5 demonstrate an understanding of some of creative criticism's effects in the wider context of literature, criticism and theory
6 demonstrate a capacity for creative and inventive use of language

The intended generic learning outcomes.

On successfully completing the module students will be able to:
1. apply sophisticated close reading techniques to a range of literary and theoretical texts and to make productive and complex comparisons between them;
2 display strong presentation skills, an ability to actively participate in group discussions, and communicate their ideas using a variety of methods;
3 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;
4 frame and identify appropriate research questions and to construct original, clear and well-substantiated arguments.


  1. Credit level 6. Higher level module usually taken in Stage 3 of an undergraduate degree.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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