Undergraduate Course: Writing Selves (ENLI10404)
|School||School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures
||College||College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
|Credit level (Normal year taken)||SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate)
||Availability||Not available to visiting students
|Summary||On this course, students will explore a range of contemporary imaginative works centred on configurations of self. While many of the primary texts are poetry collections, we will also look at relevant examples of memoir, (auto)fiction and personal essays. Discussion of the primary texts will be contextualised by theoretical reading in subjectivity, autobiography and lyric address, and by relevant studies on the craft of writing. Through close reading, we'll analyse the effects of various techniques, such as the choice of pronoun / perspective, and address a range of questions relating to subjectivity - its formation and representation - in the context of, on the one hand, the distinction-annihilating forces of globalisation and consumerism, and, on the other, the rise of online communities centred on aspects of identity. We'll ask what it means to be an I, a You or a We today, and how best writers may turn the different forms of writing we'll explore to tackling the questions they at once raise and arise in response to.
In 'The Exile's Accent,' Michael Donaghy celebrates that in Elizabeth Bishop's work which proposes poetry writing not as a means of expressing a 'natural' and pre-established self or voice but of working to construct one. On this multi-genre course, students will consider a range of contemporary imaginative works centred on the expression and construction of self. Identity is a key focus of our times; but in the poems, memoirs, (auto)fiction and essays we'll examine, its formation manifests as fraught, complex and open-ended. In formally experimental works whose focal topics include race, gender, sexuality and the politics of communal expression, the writers we'll study employ a range of strategies and perspectives to uncover, analyse and suggestively refashion the mechanics of located subjectivity. As well as those in first person, we'll read texts written in second person, first person plural and third person, and we'll examine works by writers who, in seeking to formulate adequate models for their own individuality, dynamically co-opt 'external' objects, figures and motifs. From voices that emanate from within the self but sit at unintelligible angles to it to the self as site for cross-cultural dialogue, the texts we'll analyse and employ as models pose as many questions as they offer answers; above all, they refuse the tempting limitations of defined categories. From their innovative approaches to expressing, expanding - and sometimes exploding - the parameters of self, we will learn both as scholars and as makers.
On the basis of preparatory reading, seminars will centre on discussion of the primary texts in the context of relevant theoretical material, and with a parallel focus on craft - in particular, on how different forms of writing lend themselves to, and generate, different modes of self-exploration and utterance. In other words, we will look at texts not only as critics but also as aspirant authors, considering the kinds of questions writers of poetry, fiction and creative non-fiction must formulate and address in order to achieve effective marriages of content and mode.
To prepare fully for the seminar, students will be required to meet in smaller Autonomous Learning Groups in advance to produce material which will be presented to the class in a variety of forms (e.g. reports posted on the course VLE, informal contribution to class discussion, more formal in-class presentations). Active participation in both seminars and ALGs is required, and will be assessed as part of the students' overall performance on the course.
The course is assessed by two written assignments - one to be completed by week 9, and one during the exam period - and by an assessment of students' participation in class and in Autonomous Learning Groups. Students should note that the first of the two assignments will take the form not of a scholarly reflection on, but of a creative response to, material studied. Written feedback will be provided on each assignment, and follow-up verbal feedback will be available from the course organiser for anyone who requests it.
Course Delivery Information
|Not being delivered|
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
- 1. Construct original, clear and coherent arguments about the representation of self in contemporary texts spanning a range of different genres
- 2. Analyse literary texts using appropriate supporting material to substantiate and illustrate their arguments
- 3. Evaluate the ways in which representations of self are conditioned by the formal dynamics of texts and the perspective from which those texts are written
- 4. Express themselves creatively as well as analytically
- 5. Present orally the results of research undertaken individually and as part of a small group, and respond judiciously to such research undertaken by others
|See library Resource List|
|Graduate Attributes and Skills
||As an outcome of having studied this course, students will benefit from having developed a range of personal and professional skills commensurate with the range of SCQF Level 10 characteristics:
Knowledge and Understanding: students will have had the opportunity to demonstrate their critical understanding of theories and concepts of literary analysis, and of textual construction, in relation to their reading and discussion of the course material;
Applied Knowledge, Skills and Understanding: in their work for class discussion, presentations and formal assessment tasks, students will have been able to practice the application of these theories and concepts in their construction of arguments about, and creative responses to, the course material;
Generic Cognitive Skills: in completing assessments and class presentations, students will have practiced identifying, defining, conceptualising, and analysing complex problems and issues germane to the discipline, and identifying creative solutions to those problems and issues;
Communication: through participating in these tasks students will also have demonstrated the ability to communicate ideas and information about specialised topics in the discipline to an informed audience of their peers and subject specialists;
Autonomy and Working with Others: students will also have shown the capacity to work autonomously and in small groups on designated tasks, develop new thinking with their peers, and take responsibility for the reporting, analysis and defence of these ideas to a larger group.
||A small number of places will be reserved for MSc students in English Literature or Creative Writing, who will undertake the course at SCQF Level 11, with an alternative and level-appropriate mode of assessment.
|Keywords||subjectivity,contemporary literature,creative writing,literary analysis
|Course organiser||Dr Miriam Gamble
|Course secretary||Miss Helene Thomsen
Tel: (0131 6)50 3618