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2010/1 Module Catalogue
Module Provider: English Short Name: ELI1001
Level: HE1 Module Co-ordinator: BARTA PI Prof (English)
Number of credits: 30 Number of ECTS credits: 15
Module Availability

Semester 1

Assessment Pattern

Unit(s) of Assessment
Weighting Towards Module
Mark (%)
500-word explication (formative) assessment)
Essay (1500 words)

Module Overview

This module has two main aims in terms of providing students with a basic knowledge of English Literature. First, the overall structure is generic, so that students learn about what constitutes different genres and gain skills in analysing these. Second, by tracing earlier influential and key examples students gain a wider understanding of the history of English Literature that will be built upon at levels 2 and 3. Most of these period works are drawn from the English canon, key texts translated from other languages are referred thereby underlining Surrey 's strong commitment to world literatures. In addition, to give the module thematic consistency, drama concentrates on identity, prose on the gothic and poetry on myth and politics. By commencing each section with a contemporary writer students will be able to relate to the themes and issues before learning to investigate how these developed from earlier influences.


The assessment of the module consists of an explication of a passage (5%) a critical essay (60%) and an exam that will focus on key concepts learnt during the semester and will also assess students’ familiarity with the assigned texts (35%).

Module Aims
The Module Aims to introduce students to:
  • three key genres: drama, prose and poetry;
  • contemporary writing in each of the key genres;
  • the way in which the genres developed;
  • a range of literary texts drawn from period contexts;
  • skills of close reading, critical thinking and analysis;
  • skills in essay composition and class discussion;
  • the ability to work independently and as part of a seminar group.
Learning Outcomes
By the end of  the module students will have knowledge of:
  • how texts may be distinguished generically and how genres function;
  • examples drawn from contemporary writing;
  • the way in which the genres developed through different periods from their origins to the present day;
  • a range of literary texts drawn from different periods;
  • skills of close reading, analysis and critical thinking;
  • how to write essays and discuss topics in class;
  • working both independently and in class discussions.
Module Content

This module will cover literary texts, beginning each of three sections with a piece of contemporary writing from each of the three genres: prose, poetry and drama. Lectures and seminars will then trace the origins of each generic tradition by looking at earlier material.



Apart from week 1, seminars will focus on the texts set for the week’s lectures.



Week 1


Lectures 1 and 2


Introduction to genres. This session provides students with a basic understanding of how to classify literature broadly into three genres (prose, poetry and drama).  Each section will, however, also ensure that variety within these genres is addressed. It will also offer a historical overview of the development of literature in generic terms, making clear that literature produced in English often has its origins in writing in other languages, as well as in forms of English not readily accessible to today's students.


This session will also explain how the module functions in terms of set reading. The module contains two lectures each week. The first week of studying each of the three sections includes one lecture that deals more specifically with the components of that genre and one with a contemporary work. The subsequent  weeks on a specific genre include two lectures on different authors in order to give a sense of literary history. PIB





Discussion of module overview and allocation of texts for subsequent seminars.



Genre 1: Drama



Week 2



Lecture 1: Drama: this lecture looks at a history of drama and explains its specific generic components, concentrating on the idea of text in performance. The lecture will then consider Stephen Poliakoff’s The Lost Prince (2002)  The Lost Prince tells the story of Prince John, the youngest child of George V , who died of epilepsy when he was 13 (1919). Yet, like all of Poliakoff's plays and screenplays,  the sad tale of Johnnie's life uncovers further isolated and lonely characters whose identities are trapped within constructs of past and present. MWD



Lecture 2: Caryl Churchill, Top Girls (1982). Churchill once wrote that ‘playwrights don’t give answers, they ask questions’. This lecture will be used to consider the kinds of questions that Top Girls asks about history, gender and identity, and will also refer to Churchill’s use of non-linear and transhistorical dramatic structures to investigate the relationship between the Thatcherite present and its social and political past. In particular, we will explore Churchill’s satiric plotting of a feminist pre-history and the use of on-stage dream sequences for the purpose of disrupting social and gendered expectations. TBC



Week 3



Lecture 1: Anton Chekhov, The Seagull (1896). The inclusion of Chekhov is important in that he demonstrates the way drama shifted from 'melodrama' to psychological realism. The use of moods created by the acting ensemble and the placing of violent action offstage is key to the changes in performance at the beginning of the twentieth century. The Seagull also deals with the development of consciousness, particularly artistic consciousness, in young characters and includes material that comments upon the contemporary political situation in . Chekhov uses Hamlet as a source in the play. PIB



Lecture 2: The beautiful and the monstrous, the powerful and the powerless.  This lecture will look at the many faces of one of Shakespeare's most complex plays, The Tempest, especially in the context of one of its most famous characters, Caliban.  Key themes will include exile, colonialism, language and power.  CM



Genre 2: Prose


Week 4


Lecture 1: Prose: coverage of the history of prose, the varieties of prose, and the ways that these might be analysed. PB


Lecture 2: Donna Tartt, The Little Friend (2002). This novel allows for a specific focus upon the gothic form and is about growing up and the development of identity . TBC



Week 5



Lecture 1: Henry James, 'The Turn of the Screw' (1898). This is a novella and so expands the understanding of prose fiction. It is a ghost story that allows for a continuation of the gothic element and, like the Tartt novel, has children as central characters.  TBC



Lecture 2: Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights (1847). One of the most important novels to be considered, particularly in relation to its form with multiple narrators and effective use of different voices. Children are again key characters and the setting is also gothic in a romantic sense. TBC



Week 6



Lecture 1: Mary Shelley, Frankenstein (1817). A gothic narrative and precursor to numerous 'horror' imitations. The form is complex and allows for a consideration of the epistolary style. Although it does not focus specifically upon children, it includes contemporary ideas about education and the role of the parent.  CM



Lecture 2: Sir Thomas Malory, Le Morte d’Arthur (1485)-- excerpts: “The Death of Arthur”. Everyone knows the story of King Arthur, from Tennyson's epic poem, “Idylls of the King”, to Monty Python's The Holy Grail. This lecture looks at one of the earliest prose versions of Arthur's death, allowing us to locate the darker and more gothic elements of the narrative. The lecture will focus on the representation of Arthur's death, the idea of the revenant and the social context of the Wars of the Roses.  MWD



Genre 3: Poetry



Week 7



Lecture 1: Poetry: an overview of the development of poetry together with the basics for analysing form and language. MWD



Lecture 2: Carol Ann Duffy: Feminine Gospels (2002). Specific poems taken from this collection will include ‘The Long Queen’; ‘Beautiful’; ‘Loud’; ‘History’; ‘White Writing’. The session will look at poetic techniques, language and form, and it will also refer to the relationship between myth-making and contemporary gender politics.  TBC



Week 8



Lecture 1: William Butler Yeats, “The Second Coming” (1921), “Sailing to Byzantium” (1927), “ Byzantium ” (1927). "I hail the superhuman" - The Late Poetry of WB Yeats and the Death of the Romantic Tradition. Often called the Last Romantic, WB Yeats began his career as a poet in the decadent romantic tradition; his embrace of nationalism part of a cultural project that had its roots in the poetry of the French Revolution a century earlier. But the rise of nationalism also spelt the end of the romantic egotist, ushering in a catastrophic age in which impersonal political systems fought it out for control of the globe. This lecture shows how the poet responded to changing times, tracing an occult pattern in the chaos of history, in order to reconcile individual personality with the vast barbarous anti-individualist forces at work in the modern world.  DA



Lecture 2: William Wordsworth, Lyrical Ballads but especially 'Old Man Travelling' and the changes to that poem (1798, 1800, 1802 and 1815), “Tintern Abbey” (1798). William Wordsworth, Lyrical Ballads but especially 'Old Man Travelling' and “Tintern Abbey” (1798) (MWD). William Wordsworth wrote some of the most famous poems in the English language; he is often thought of as a 'nature poet' because of his profound and imaginative evocations of the English landscape. However as a young man, Wordsworth was deeply immersed in the political events of his time and this lectures focuses upon the ways in which his poetry may be read on several levels, uncovering multiple voices. MWD



Week 9


Lecture 1: John Milton, Paradise Lost Book 4. Did you know that John Milton, one of the finest English poets, had to go into hiding because of his anti-monarchist views, that his books were burned publicly, and that had if he been caught he would have been hung, drawn and quartered and his decapitated head placed on a spike on London Bridge? This lecture will explain how, when we understand the context, it is possible to perceive Paradise Lost as a revolutionary text in which individual identity - both male and female - was constructed as having greater value than any hierarchical structure. MWD


Lecture 2: Geoffrey Chaucer, 'The Miller’s Tale' (late fourteenth century). “`I am a Southerne Man / I kan not geste "rum ram ruf"' - The Miller's Tale and Poetry in Chaucer's .  Chaucer is often considered the Father of Poetry in English, and poems such as The Miller's Tale provide a unique insight into the life of everyday folk in Medieval England. But Chaucer's poetry was designed for a rarefied court, was heavily influenced by Italian and Provencal sources, and was competing with an alternative alliterative form of poetry in the Anglo-Saxon tradition that seems to have enjoyed a greater popular appeal. This lecture considers a poet who is the fountainhead of poetry in English - but who raises questions (about the purpose of poetry, its appropriate style and intended audience) that have bedevilled discussion of the mainstream tradition ever since. DA


Week 10


Lecture 1: Beowulf (700-750). Excerpts from Heaney's translation; 1999). This session provides an understanding of the earliest origins of English poetry by referring back to the Anglo Saxon heroic epic. By looking at Heaney's translation it provides an understanding of how poetry has built upon these early works.  PIB   


Lecture 2: Homer’s The Odyssey (9th or 8th century, BCE). Excerpts from Robert Fagles’ translation: Book 6 (Nausikaa). Homer is the first “Western” author and the founder of the European epic tradition.  The lecture will discuss the distinction between primary and secondary epic poetry and will assess the impact of mythology, history and religion in the world of ancient .  Homeric narration in verse, characters and plot will be interrogated in the overall context of the module. PIB



Week 11



Lecture 1: Summary.  The session will focus on the relationships between literary history, themes and genres and will consider problems of the formation of the literary canon.  What makes “great” books great?  Is there a common thread between the works by Homer, Chaucer, Shakespeare and Milton that we have dealt with this semester?  The lecture will enable students to raise questions regarding the entire semester. PIB


Lecture 2: Preparing for the Exam (PIB)



Assessment deadlines:



500-word explication of text: 20 October 2010


Essay: 15th December 2010


Exam: tbc

Methods of Teaching/Learning

Two one-hour lectures and one one-hour seminar each week.

Selected Texts/Journals

Essential Reading


Anon., Beowulf trans. Seamus Heaney ( London : Faber, 2000)

Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 2004)

Geoffrey Chaucer, 'The Miller's Tale' (LION)

Anton Chekhov, The Seagull (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 2002)

Caryl Churchill, Top Girls (London: Methuen Drama, 1991)

Carol Ann Duffy, Feminine Gospels ( London : Picador, 2002)

Homer, The Odyssey. Trans. Robert Fagles; (London: Penguin, 1996)

Henry James, 'The Turn of the Screw' (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1994)

Sir Thomas Malory, Le Morte Darthur (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998)

John Milton, Paradise Lost (LION), book 4

Stephen Poliakoff, The Lost Prince (film available at university)

William Shakespeare, The Tempest; The Norton Shakespeare, ed. Stephen Greenblatt, (London: W.W.Norton, 1997)

Mary Shelley, Frankenstein (Oxford: Oxford World’s Classics: 1998)

Donna Tartt, The Little Friend (London: Bloomsbury , 2005)

William Wordsworth, Lyrical Ballads (LION)

William Butler Yeats, “The Second Coming”, “Sailing to Byzantium”, “ Byzantium ” (LION)


Recommended Reading


Abrams, M.H., ed., Wordsworth: A Collection of Critical Essays (New York: Prentice Hall, 1972)

Amigoni, David, The English Novel and Prose Narrative (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2000)

Aston, Elaine, Caryl Churchill ( Plymouth : Northcote House, 2001)

Auerbach, Eric, Mimesis (New York: Doubleday, 1957)

Banham, Martin, ed., The Cambridge Guide to Theatre. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998)

Batt, Catherine, Malory’s Morte d’Arthur( London : Palgrave Macmillan, 2001)

Boitani, P. and J. Mann eds., The Cambridge Companion to Chaucer (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003)

Bjork, Robert E., and John D. Niles. A Beowulf Handbook (Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 1996)

Booth, Wayne C., The Rhetoric of Fiction (Chicago: University of Chicago Press,1987) 

Botting, Fred, The Gothic ( Cambridge : D.S.Brewer, 2001)

Carey, John, John Donne: life, mind and art (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990)

Cooper, H., Oxford Guides to Chaucer: The Canterbury Tales, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996)

Corcoran, Neil, Seamus Heaney (London: Faber, 1986)

Cousin, Geraldine, Churchill the Playwright (London: Methuen, 1989)

Curtis, Tony, The Art of Seamus Heaney (Cardiff: Poetry Wales, 1994)

Duffy, Carol Ann, Answering Back: Living Poets Reply to the Poetry of the Past ( London : Picador, 2007)

Eagleton, Terry, The English Novel: An Introduction Oxford : Blackwell, 2004)

Ellmann, Richard, Yeats, the Man and the Masks (New York: Norton, 1978)

Esslin, Martin, Theatre of the Absurd ( New York : Vintage, 2004)

Fenton, James, An Introduction to English Poetry, (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 2003)

Freedman, Jonathan, The Cambridge Companion to Henry James (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998)

Gilbert, Sandra and Susan Gubar, The Madwoman in the Attic (Yale: Tale University Press, 2000)

Glenn, Heather, ed., The Cambridge Companion to the Brontës (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002)

Gottlieb, Vera, ed., The Cambridge Companion to Chekhov (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, (2006)

Griffiths, Trevor R., The Tempest, ( London : Palgrave Macmillan, 2007)

Guibbory, Achsah, ed., The Cambridge Companion to John Donne (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000)

Hall, Jason, David, Seamus Heaney: Poet, Critic, Translator ( London : Palgrave, 2007)

Hartman, Geoffrey, Wordsworth's Poetry 1787-1814 (Harvard: Harvard University Press, 1987)

Hartman, Geoffrey, The Unremarkable Wordsworth ( University of Minnesota Press, 1987

Jacobus, Mary, Tradition and Experiment in Wordsworth's Lyrical Ballads 1798 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1976)

Kritzer, Amelia Howe, The Plays of Caryl Churchill: Theatre of Empowerment (London: Macmillan, 1991)

Macneice, Louis, The Poetry of W. B. Yeats, (Oxford, OUP, 1941)

Morrison, James V. A Companion to Homer’s “Odyssey”, ( London : Greenwood Press, 2003)

Lodge, David, The Language of Fiction ( London : Routledge, 2002) 

Luckhurst, Mary, Caryl Churchill ( London : Routledge, 2007)

Michelis, Angelica and Antony Rowland, The Poetry of Carol Ann Duffy: Choosing Tough Words (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2003) 

Mueller, William R., John Donne: Preacher ( Princeton , 1962)

O’Brien, Eugene, Seamus Heaney: Searches for Answers ( London : Pluto, 2003)

O’Gorman, Francis, ed., A Concise Companion to the Victorian Novel ( Oxford : Blackwell, 2005)

Patterson, Annabel, John Milton (London: Longman Critical Reader, 1992)

The Poetry Archive (

The Poetry Archives (

Rabillard, Sheila Mary, Essays on Caryl Churchill: Contemporary Representations (Blizzard Publishing, 1998); interlibrary loan only.

Poliakoff, Stephen, The Lost Prince. Introduced by the author) (London: Methuen , 2003).

Randall, Phyllis R., Caryl Churchill: A Casebook (New York: Garland, 1988); interlibrary loan only.

Rees-Jones, Deryn, Carol Ann Duffy ( Plymouth : Northcote House, 2001); 2nd edn 2008.

Raby, Peter, The Cambridge Companion to Harold Pinter ( Cambridge Companions to Literature, 2001)

Roe,Nicholas, Wordsworth and Coleridge: The Radical Years (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990) 

Rumrich, John P. Milton Unbound: Controversy and Reinterpretation (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,1996)

Schleiner, Winfried, The Imagery of John Donne's Sermons ( Providence , 1970)

Shami, Jeanne, ed. and intro, John Donne Journal 11 (1992), Special Issue: Donne's Sermons

Stevens, Hugh. Henry James and Sexuality (New York: Cambridge UP, 1998)

Sugg, Richard, John Donne ( London : Palgrave, 2006)

Sunstein, Emily W., Mary Shelley: Romance and Reality (Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, 1989)

Seymour,Miranda, Mary Shelley ( London : John Murray, 2000)

Sommerstein, Alan Herbert, Greek Drama and Dramatists. ( London : Routledge, 2002) (

Twentieth-Century Poetry in English (

Watt, Ian, The Rise of the Novel: Studies in Defoe, Richardson, and Fielding ( University of California Press, 2001) 

Williams, Raymond, The English Novel from Dickens to Lawrence (London: Paladin, 1974)

Last Updated

02/07/2010 (JG)