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2010/1 Module Catalogue
Module Provider: English Short Name: ELI2004
Level: HE2 Module Co-ordinator: BARTA PI Prof (English)
Number of credits: 20 Number of ECTS credits: 10
Module Availability
Semester 2
Assessment Pattern

Unit(s) of Assessment


Weighting Towards


Module Mark( %)


Two Creative Pieces (either prose, poetry or script)




Creative Journal




In class work




Module Overview

This module aims to explore various modes of storytelling in a contemporary context, with a view to developing narrative skills. The course will be split into three sections: short stories and non-fiction; narrative poetry; and playwriting and screenwriting. There will be three lectures on each topic, with workshop-style seminars that require students to engage with and analyse their own writing and the writing of others, honing their ability to edit and create. This will then be assessed through two pieces of creative work derived from the workshop hand-ins; a journal that details the creative lessons learnt on each topic; and a participation grade that will be achieved through the submission and interaction within workshop setting.

Module Aims

The module aims to:


  • deepen and widen students’ knowledge of contemporary storytelling;


  • increase knowledge and awareness of how storytelling engages with social and cultural issues;


  • develop an understanding of storytelling in a contemporary context;


  • further students’ skills in terms of IT competency, written communication and oral presentations;


  • introduce students to self-reflexive Enquiry Based Learning;


  • develop further skills in workshop environment;


  • the ability to work to workshop submission deadlines.
Learning Outcomes

By the end of the module students will have achieved:


a wide and relatively sophisticated understanding of contemporary storytelling;


knowledge of and ability to analyse how storytelling engages with social and cultural issues;


an understanding of how storytelling is contextualised in a contemporary framework;


a good level of oral presentation and written communication skills;


ability to undertake self-reflexive enquiry based work in the form of a journal;


a good level of skill in analysis and critical enquiry, as well as in independent study


time management skills.
Module Content

This module will be taught in a one-hour lecture and a two-hour workshop-style seminar.



Theme – The Importance of Storytelling: a brief overview.



Week 1


Lecture: (LMB, AF, GG)


This lecture will introduce the concept of storytelling in a contemporary context, looking at the history of storytelling and the various different modes that can be utilised.






Outline of how the workshop will run and scheduling of compulsory student submissions to subsequent workshops; writing exercise to begin sequence of written submissions.





Theme – Shards of the Story: the concise style of Carver



Week 2


Lecture: (LB)


This lecture will focus on the art of writing the short story and, specifically, the challenge of writing in a sparse and economical style. In doing so, the discussion will focus on the framework of the story, the importance of characterisation and editing through textual analysis of Raymond Carver's story 'What We Talk About When We Talk About Love'.





Writing exercise based on Carver's work; workshop student pieces from Week 1.




Theme – Magical Realism and Storytelling



Week 3


Lecture: (AF)


This week will look at Angela Carter’s short story ‘The Bloody Chamber’ to examine the ways in which classical narratives are subverted through the application of magical realist technique in order to frame them within a contemporary context. 





Writing exercise based of Carter’s work; workshop student pieces from Week 2.






Theme – Creative Nonfiction and Humour



Week 4


Lecture: (AF)


This lecture will focus on the importance of narrating the self, and the ethics of constructing “real-life” scenarios. We will look at David Sedaris’ short stories ‘I Like Guys’ and ‘Chipped Beef’ from his collection of essays, Naked, to highlight the way stories of family, love and loss are constructed within a humour context to deal with the nuance of everyday life.





Writing exercise based on Sedaris’ work; workshop student pieces from Week 3.




Theme – A Return to Narrative Poetry 1 

Week 5


Lecture: (GG) 
This lecture we will examine  how one creates a credible story in verse that avoids the prosaic, and takes into account Modernism's shift in poetic sensibility. Key text: Dana Gioia, 'The Homecoming'.
Writing exercise based Gioia's work; workshop student pieces from Week 4.


Theme – A Return to Narrative Poetry 2


Week 6


Lecture: (GG)
This lecture will explore the self-reflexive and intertextual tendencies in contemporary narrative verse. Key text: Robert Hass, Apple Trees at Olema: New and Selected Poems.

Writing exercise based Hass's work; workshop student pieces from Week 5.



Theme – Constructing the Poetic Female Self



Week 7


Lecture: (AF)


This lecture deals with the practice of constructing the female identity in postmodern narrative poetry. We will look at extracts from Lyn Hejinian’s narrative poem My Life to explore how the issues of feminism and narrative inform one another to create the female identity in Hejinian’s work.





Writing exercise based on Hejinian’s work; workshop student pieces from Week 6.




Theme: Staging Contemporary Theatre



Week 8:


Lecture (LB)


The lecture this week will move on to look at scriptwriting and contemporary storytelling in the context of the theatre. We will examine Tom Stoppard's play Every Good Boy Deserves Favour, paying particular attention to multimodality.





Writing exercise based on Stoppard's work; workshop student pieces from Week 7.



Theme – Political and Social Theatre



Week 9


Lecture (LB)


Lecture looking at the possibilities for writing theatre scripts concerned with contemporary political and/or social topics. Taking the recent National Theatre production (2009) of The Power of Yes by David Hare, we will examine the extent to which incorporating factual information and context dilutes the drama of the script.






Writing exercise based on Hare's work; workshop student pieces from Week 8.




Theme – Narrative in the Postmodern Screenplay


Week 10


Lecture: (GG)
This lecture will explore how the radical self-reflexive tendencies in the the postmodern screenplay interrogate and play with the tropes of storytelling. Key text: Charlie Kaufman, Adaptation.

Writing exercise based on Kaufman's work; workshop of student pieces from Week 9.



Theme – Preparing your work for submission



Week 11


Lecture: (LMB, AF, GG)


Overview of themes and topics covered, notes on editing and presentation, and question and answer session to prepare students for final submission of creative work and accompanying journal.





Workshop student pieces from Week 10.



Week 12





Week 13


Exams/ Assessment



Week 14


Exams/ Assessment



Week 15


Exams/ Assessment






Creative Writing pieces: 18/05/11


Journal: 18/05/11


Methods of Teaching/Learning

Teaching will be in a weekly one-hour lecture and a weekly two-hour workshop-style seminar.


Selected Texts/Journals

Essential Reading


Carter, Angela, The Bloody Chamber (London: Vintage, 1979)


Carver, Raymond, What We Talk About When We Talk About Love ( London : Vintage Classics, 2009)


Gioia, Dana, The Gods of Winter (Minneapolis: Graywolf, 1991)


Hare, David, The Power of Yes: A Dramatist Seeks to Understand the Financial Crisis ( London : Faber and Faber, 2009)


Hass, Robert, The Apple Trees at Olema: New and Selected Poems ( New York : Ecco, 2010)


Hejinian, Lyn, My Life (Los Angeles: Sun and Moon, 1987)


Kaufmann, Charlie, Adaptation (The Shooting Script) (New York: Newmarket Press, 2002)


Sedaris, David, Naked ( London : Abacus, 2006)


Stoppard, Tom, Every Good Boy Deserves Favour and Professional Foul: Two Plays (London: Faber and Faber, 1978)




Recommended Reading


Bakhtin, Mikhail, trans. Helene Iswolsky, Rabelais and His World (Bloomington: Indiana


UP, 1984)


Bal, Mieke, Narratology: Introduction to the Theory of Narrative (Toronto: Toronto UP, 1997)


Booker, Christopher, 7 Basic Plots, (Continuum, 2004)


Boon, Richard (ed), The Cambridge Companion to David Hare, ( Cambridge : Cambridge University Press, 2007)


Boon, Richard, About Hare: The Playwright and the Work ( London : Faber and Faber, 2006)


Carver, Raymond, Fires ( London : Vintage Classics, 2009)


Frost, Elisabeth A., The Feminist Avant-Garde in American Poetry (Iowa City: Iowa UP,




Herman, David (ed), The Cambridge Guide to Narrative ( Cambridge : Cambridge University Press, 2007)


Hill, Derek, Charlie Kaufman and Hollywood 's Merry Band of Prankster's, Fabulists and Dreamers – An excursion into the American New Wave (Harpenden: Oldcastle Books, 2008)


Kelly, Katherine (ed), The Cambridge Companion to Tom Stoppard ( Cambridge : Cambridge University Press, 2001)


McKee, Robert, Story: Substance, Structure, Style and the Principles of Screenwriting ( Methuen , 1999)


Vogler, Christopher, Writer's Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers (Michael Wiese, 2007)
Last Updated
5 July 2010 JG