The Unknown: Reading and Writing - ENGL6040

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2021 to 2022
Spring Term 6 30 (15) Declan Wiffen checkmark-circle


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.


Contact hours

Total contact hours: 30
Private study hours: 270
Total study hours: 300

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods:

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)
Seminar performance (10%)

Reassessment methods:
Like for Like

Indicative reading

Indicative Reading List:

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'รจ 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)

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 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 and an ability to actively participate in group discussions;
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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