Advanced Critical Reading - EN897

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2017-18 2018-19
(version 2)
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7 30 (15) DR SL Wood
(version 2)
View Timetable
7 30 (15)







This module is designed to extend and develop skill, enjoyment and confidence in reading critical, literary and theoretical texts. We reflect on the pleasures and challenges of the reading process, moving slowly through a single major text. We will pause over exciting, complex or important passages, taking time to follow up references and footnotes, identify important themes and ideas, consult works of art and writings that share those themes, explore how the texts touch us and how they think. The module is designed to help you come away with an in-depth knowledge of the main text and of texts and ideas surrounding it, as well as gaining deeper understanding of how you read.

Our ten weekly seminars will usually function as a two-hour guided reading-group. Seminars will incorporate student presentations introducing a particular passage, focusing on issues raised by the text or on relations between these issues, the text and other module reading. Total study hours: 20 per week. Students will be assessed on a piece of written work of 5,000 words presented at the conclusion of the module on a topic agreed with the teacher.

In 2016-17 the central text is Philippines by Hélène Cixous.

Philippines was published in 2009 and Laurent Milesi's English translation came out in 2010. It concerns telepathy, and we will be looking at texts on telepathy by Freud, Derrida and Nicholas Royle, as well as George Du Maurier's very popular novel Peter Ibbetson (1891), and the film version of Peter Ibbetson from 1935 starring Gary Cooper and mentioned in Cixous' book. We will also think about love, dreaming, literature and childhood as they emerge out of these texts.


This module appears in:

Contact hours

One two hour seminar per week

Method of assessment

100% coursework

Preliminary reading

Principal primary texts:
Hélène Cixous, Philippines translated by Laurent Milesi (Polity, 2010)
George Du Maurier, Peter Ibbetson (1891)
Peter Ibbetson, dir. Henry Hathaway (1935)

Other reading will include
Freud, 'Dreams and Occultism' in the New Introductory Lectures
Derrida, ‘Telepathy’ in Psyche: Inventions of the Other
Nicholas Royle, ‘The "Telepathy Effect": Notes Toward a Reconsideration of Narrative Fiction’ in Acts of Narrative, edited by Carol Jacobs and Henry Sussman

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

See the library reading list for this module (Medway)

Learning outcomes

To become more competent, discriminating and confident reading critical and theoretical texts at an advanced level (especially related to the intellectual skills mentioned in Section B and the subject-specific skills in Section C of the MA in Critical Theory Programme Specification.)
To have a more precise sense of problems of reading and interpretation that arise out of in-depth study of critical and theoretical texts (especially related to the knowledge and understanding mentioned in Section A and the subject-specific skills in section C of the MA in Critical Theory Programme Specification.)
To develop stronger awareness of how critical and theoretical texts relate to one another and to literary texts (especially related to the knowledge skills mentioned in Section A and the intellectual skills in Section B of the MA in Critical Theory Programme Specification.).

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