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DRPS : Course Catalogue : Centre for Open Learning : Literature, Languages and Cultures

Undergraduate Course: The Unreliable Narrator (LLLG07055)

Course Outline
SchoolCentre for Open Learning CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 7 (Year 1 Undergraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummaryWayne C. Booth first identified the difference between a reliable and unreliable narrator as part of his reader-centred approach to critical thinking in the 1960s. The unreliable narrator has, however, been around for a great deal longer than that in literature. We will study a number of examples of the unreliable narrator from a number of different genres such as the realist novel, the ghost novel and a novel where it is unclear whether the narrator is sane or not. Our discussions will turn on how the reader builds a relationship with an unreliable narrator and whether or not our bond of trust with our touchstone in a novel is finally compromised by their unreliability.
Course description Week 1 and Week 2: Religion, the devil, madness and mayhem: A discussion of the intricacies of James Hogg's novel of trickery, Memoirs and Confessions.
Text: James Hogg: The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner

Week 3 and Week 4: 'No, wait. I've got that wrong' (Frayn, Spies): A discussion of the naivety of the child narrator and its impact on events in the adult world.
Text: Michael Frayn: Spies

Week 5 and Week 6: 'This is the saddest story I have ever heard.' (Ford, The Good Soldier): A discussion of Ford's famously passionless narrator and his version of other people's passions.
Text: Ford Madox Ford: The Good Soldier

Week 7 and Week 8: The rational doctor and the ghost story: an exploration of Sarah Waters' rational doctor narrator and his engagement with the ghostly happenings at Hundreds Hall.
Text: Sarah Waters: The Little Stranger

Week 9 and Week 10: Chief Bromden, The Combine and Big Nurse: A discussion of Kesey's novel set in a mental hospital in which one of the patients is the novel's narrator.
Text: Ken Kesey: One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2022/23, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  17
Course Start Lifelong Learning - Session 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 100 ( Lecture Hours 20, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 2, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 78 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) One 2000 word essay submitted after the course finishes, worth 100% of the total course mark.
Feedback Not entered
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. discuss texts confidently
  2. assess literature based, to a certain extent, on their own close reading
  3. place literature in its historical context
  4. discuss the various ways in which authors use an unreliable narrator to inject suspense and offer alternative viewpoints on e
Reading List
Hogg, James 2010. The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner. Oxford: Oxford World's Classics.
Frayn, Michael 2002. Spies. London: Faber.
Ford, Ford Madox 2012. The Good Soldier: A Tale of Passion. Oxford: Oxford World's Classics.
Kesey, Ken 2002. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Harmondsworth: Penguin.
Waters, Sarah 2009. The Little Stranger. London: Virago.

Mullan, John 2008. How Novels Work. Oxford: OUP.
Booth, Wayne C., 1995. The Rhetoric of Fiction. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills * Close critical reading of passages from texts.
* Small group working.
* Setting literature in historical, social and political context.
* Advance preparation of material for class including work for essays and class discussion.
* Wide reading. Students will be encouraged to work around the subject by reading other relevant secondary material.
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserMr Douglas Dougan
Course secretaryMs Kameliya Skerleva
Tel: (0131 6)51 1855
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