This module aims to examine literature from an unusual angle by concentrating on the importance of the figure of the reader for the interpretation of novels. Often novels address the reader directly; some novels are written in the second person, as if the reader were a central character. Sometimes novels involve 'self-reflexive' or 'self-referential' elements that force the reader to reflect on his/her own expectations of literature. When novels invoke the reader in these various ways, they invite us to reflect on the text – how it comes to exist, who it is for, what is its message or purpose – in new and challenging ways. The module also concentrates on the 'nouveau roman', which involves sustained reflection on these and related questions.
One weekly two-hour seminar for 10 weeks
Method of assessment
• Critical Writing Exercise (500 words) – 20%
• Essay (2,700 words) – 60%
• Presentation (20 minutes) – 20%
Balzac: Le Colonel Chabert (any edition)
Butor: La Modification (any edition)
Gide: Les Faux-Monnayeurs (any edition); Journal des Faux-Monnayeurs (any edition)
Robbe-Grillet: La Jalousie (any edition), Pour un nouveau roman (any edition)
Sarraute: Les Fruits d'Or (any edition)
See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:
8.1 Accurately assimilate concepts such as the ideal, the real and the implied reader, following critical reflection on these topics;
8.2 Explore in detail and relativise author-centred methods of literary interpretation by taking account of reader-response theory;
8.3 Demonstrate cogent analytical skills for the study of narrative technique and structure;
8.4 Demonstrate a critical appreciation of a range of experimental literature of the twentieth century;
8.5 Demonstrate their analytical skills relating to close reading and evaluation of literary texts;
8.6 Demonstrate their efficient reading speed in French.
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