Undergraduate Course: Body in Literature (ENLI10110)
|School||School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures
||College||College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
|Credit level (Normal year taken)||SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate)
||Availability||Available to all students
|Summary||This course examines some of the most influential ways in which literary writing has depicted and explored the human body, and discusses arguments about identity, gender, race, desire, sex, violence, beauty and monstrosity. The human body has been depicted in a wide variety of different ways across a range of cultural and historical contexts. It has been described, variously, as a biological entity, clothing for the soul, a site of cultural production, a psychosexual construct and a material encumbrance. Each of these different characterisations brings with it a range of anthropological, biological, political, theological and psychological discourses that explore and construct identities and subject positions. The body is at once a locus of invention and self-expression, and also an object of domination and control. In contemporary culture it is also located at the heart of debates about race, gender and sexuality. This course considers the ways in which the human body has been a central object of discussion in literature from the Renaissance onwards and explores the politics and philosophy of bodily representation.
We will discuss the variety of ways in which literature has presented the human body by reading a range of literature published from the early-modern period to the end of the twentieth century. These literary texts will be read in the light of critical and theoretical arguments drawn from sources that present varied perspectives on embodiment. The ability to read literary and theoretical writing independently and with precision and confidence that students have gained from their prior study of English Literature will be essential for the successful completion of this course.
On the basis of preparatory reading of literary texts and other writing drawn from a range of disciplines, discussions will focus on the literary, philosophical, theological, psychological, social, cultural and political implications of different manners of writing about embodiment. In order to fully prepare for these discussions, students will be required to work in advance in smaller 'autonomous learning groups' to produce material which will be presented to the class in a variety of forms (written reports posted to the course vle, informal contributions to discussion, and more formal verbal or written presentations).
The structure of reading and analysis on the course is broadly comparative: we will explore the similarities and differences between the set texts, and examine the various types of analysis made possible by the critical and theoretical modes of reading which will be introduced as the course progresses. Key topics for discussion this year will include: the meanings of beauty, ugliness and monstrosity; desire and sexuality; gender, race and representation; violence and death; identity, power and performance.
Information for Visiting Students
|Pre-requisites||A MINIMUM of 4 college/university level literature courses at grade B or above (should include no more than one introductory level literature course). Related courses such as cross disciplinary, "Freshman Seminars", civilisation or creative writing classes are not considered for admission to this course.
Applicants should also note that, as with other popular courses, meeting the minimum does NOT guarantee admission. In making admissions decisions preference will be given to students who achieve above the minimum requirement with the typical visiting student admitted to this course
having four or more literature classes at grade A.
** as numbers are limited, visiting students should contact the Visiting Student Office directly for admission to this course **
|High Demand Course?
Course Delivery Information
|Academic year 2022/23, Available to all students (SV1)
|Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info)
Seminar/Tutorial Hours 20,
Other Study Hours 10,
Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4,
Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours
|Additional Information (Learning and Teaching)
one hour per week Autonomous Learning Group
|Assessment (Further Info)
|Additional Information (Assessment)
2500 word essay (40%) submitted mid-semester week 9
+ 3000 word final essay submitted at end of semester / in exam period (60%).
OR: Alternative model: alternative coursework assessment (40%)
+ 3000 word final essay submitted at end of semester / in exam period (60%)
|No Exam Information
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
- Construct original, clear and coherent arguments about literature¿s depictions of embodiment, identity and culture;
- Analyse literary texts using recognised literary critical methodologies to substantiate and illustrate those arguments;
- Extrapolate, evaluate and assess ideas from a range of non-literary sources in order to bring them to bear on their analyses of the body in literature;
- Evaluate the ways in which conceptions of the body and ideas associated with embodiment have changed and/or remained constant from the early-modern period to the present;
- Orally present the results of research undertaken individually and as part of a small group, respond judiciously to such research undertaken by others, and critically evaluate the importance of such material for an understanding of the chief themes of the course.
|Iain Banks, The Wasp Factory, London: Macmillan / Abacus, 2000|
Octavia Butler, The Parable of the Sower, London: Headline, 2014
Lewis Carroll, Alice¿s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, Harmondsworth: Penguin, 2001
Alasdair Gray, Poor Things, Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1993
Michael Ondaatje, In the Skin of a Lion, London: Picador, 1987
William Shakespeare, Titus Andronicus, London: Routledge, 1995 (Arden Shakespeare)
Mary Shelley, Frankenstein, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993
Jonathan Swift, Gulliver¿s Travels, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998
Jeanette Winterson, Written on the Body, London: Jonathan Cape, 1992
Virginia Woolf, Orlando, Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1993
|Graduate Attributes and Skills
||Numbers are limited and students taking degrees not involving English or Scottish literature need the written approval of the head of English Literature
|Additional Class Delivery Information
||Seminar: 2 hour(s) per week for 10 week(s);
plus 1 hour per week attendance at Autonomous Learning Group - at times to be arranged
|Course organiser||Dr Simon Malpas
Tel: (0131 6)50 3596
|Course secretary||Miss Hope Hamilton
Tel: (0131 6)50 4167