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

Undergraduate Course: LOOKING AT LITERARY PRIZES: 2005 (LLLG07105)

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
SummaryThis course focusses on the winning novels of five different literary prizes in one year, 2005. The criteria for each prize will be explored and we shall evaluate how successfully the winning novels fulfil those criteria, the judging processes and how critics and contemporary readers responded to the winning novels. In studying the winning texts of the Orange, Pulitzer, James Tait Black Memorial, Faber and Whitbread prizes, we shall consider how literary value is ascribed, and the influence of commercial value.
Course description Students on this course will read five novels which were awarded literary prizes in 2005. Through mini-lectures and seminar discussion, students will explore the key themes and stylistic characteristics of each novel and develop skills in critical analysis, using and interpreting secondary reading, and writing an academic piece of work. Students will engage with the texts through the close-reading of selected excerpts, in a supportive tutorial atmosphere.

Through our reading of Lionel Shriver's We Need to Talk about Kevin we shall interrogate the reasoning behind the women-only Orange Prize, and discuss how Shriver explores the challenges of being a mother. The Pulitzer Prize will draw our focus to Marilynne Robinson's epistolary novel Gilead and issues surrounding faith in a secular world. From the Pulitzer we shall move on to Ian McEwan's Saturday, the winner of the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, a prize which is awarded by students and staff of the University of Edinburgh. The Faber Prize winner David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas will allow us to discuss narrative devices and connective themes, as well as the pros and cons of a prize with a very small jury while Ali Smith's The Accidental will ask us to think about how readers negotiate complex narratives. Throughout the course we shall be discussing issues such as literary value, commercial value, readability and above all, how useful literary prizes are as a measure of literary merit. Students will be asked to identify parallel themes between the texts and consider how the winning texts were received by the public. In our final session we shall compare all the texts on the course and try to establish some criteria to decide which is our best book of 2005.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Articulate an understanding of issues such as readability, literary value, commercialism and marketing, that influence the awarding of literary prizes;
  2. Evaluate, compare and contrast prize-winning fiction of 2005, demonstrating knowledge of linguistic, literary, cultural and political contexts;
  3. Construct original, clear and coherent arguments, using recognised critical terminology;
  4. Assess and evaluate criticism from non-literary sources such as journalism, of prize-winning literary texts.
Reading List

Shriver, Lionel. 2010. We Need to Talk about Kevin. London: Serpent's Tale.

Robinson, Marilynne. 2006. Gilead. London: Virago.

McEwan, Ian. 2006. Saturday. London: Vintage.

Mitchell, David. 2014. Cloud Atlas. London: Sceptre.

Smith, Ali. 2006. The Accidental. Harmondsworth: Penguin.

Mullan, John, 2008. How Novels Work. Oxford: OUP.

Roberts, Gillian, 2011. Prizing Literature. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Critical thinking
Analytical thinking
Communication of ideas and arguments, both orally and in writing
Course organiserMs Rachael King
Course secretaryMs Kameliya Skerleva
Tel: (0131 6)51 1855
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