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

Undergraduate Course: An Introduction to Scottish Literature: The Literature of Edinburgh (LLLG07113)

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 Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course explores the rich literary heritage of Edinburgh, the first UNESCO City of Literature. We shall examine the work of some of the city's most celebrated local literary talents, as well as the work of writers who have found the city conducive and influential to their creativity. We shall read a wide variety of texts from the 18th Century to present day, and consider the common themes which emerge.
Course description A student on this course can expect to explore a range of texts inspired by, or written in, the city of Edinburgh. For each text we shall examine the presentation of Edinburgh, and consider how the city may have influenced the creation of the text. Where possible, we shall examine contextual information to explore the part these texts have played in shaping Scottish Literature more generally, but also how they reflect the cultural distinction of Edinburgh.

From the outset, we shall examine both literary texts and other materials such as journalism and correspondence, locating the authors within the city's cultural and historical context. Discussion of the work of Robert Louis Stevenson will expose one of the key themes of the course, that of 'duality'. Students will be asked to continue to consider the theme of duality and also that of frailty as we consider the writings of short-term residents of Edinburgh: Robert Burns, Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen. Students will be asked to consider the enduring appeal of their poems, and the social and political critiques they present.

Muriel Spark's classic exploration of the duality of Edinburgh, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, will be examined in detail, looking at Spark's heritage in the city, as well as exploring how the novel invites discussion about the Scottish psyche.

Students will be asked to examine Edinburgh as a backdrop to detective fiction through modern texts such as Kate Atkinson's Case Histories, and consider how urban poverty and crime is portrayed in Irvine Welsh's Trainspotting. We shall compare and contrast Welsh and Burns' use of language, paying careful attention to the link between identity and language.

We shall read a selection of poetry from 20th and 21st Century poets who have helped shape the literary scene in Edinburgh and beyond, and consider the contribution the Scottish Poetry Library has made to Edinburgh's cultural landscape. Students will be encouraged to apply close-reading skills and will be given support and advice on using poetic terms where appropriate.

Students will be asked to read and watch examples of Scottish stage plays such as Sue Glover's play Bondagers which explores rural life for woman in the mid-nineteenth century, and Gregory Burke's play Black Watch which dramatises the lives of soldiers from the Black Watch regiment in the 2004 Iraq conflict. The importance of theatre and the Edinburgh Festivals to the city will be considered as we review the contemporary responses by audiences and critics to the plays.

Mid-way through each term, students will be introduced to close-reading exercises, during which they will be offered guidance on literary terminology and devices. Throughout the course, both in formative and summative assessment and also in group discussion, students will be encouraged to identify literary devices and refer to them using recognised literary terminology, so as to develop an academic vocabulary.

The course will be taught in a small seminar setting, where participation will be supported and encouraged. The course comprises 20 two-hour classes plus approx. 160 hours of individual study.
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. Evaluate, compare and contrast a wide range of texts, demonstrating knowledge of Edinburgh's linguistic, literary, cultural and socio-political contexts;
  2. Analyse literary texts by applying close reading techniques and referring to recognised literary terminology to illustrate arguments;
  3. Construct, present and evaluate arguments coherently by assessing, analysing and responding to secondary reading;
  4. Analyse contemporary responses and reactions to texts by evaluating and assessing ideas from non-literary texts such as letters, criticism or journalism;
Reading List
Stevenson, Robert Louis., 2008. Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and Other Tales. Oxford: Oxford World Classics.
Atkinson, Kate., 2011. Case Histories. London: Black Swan.
Glover, Sue. 2005. Bondagers and The Straw Chair. London: Methuen.
Spark, Muriel., 2000. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. Harmondsworth: Penguin.
Burke, Gregory., 2007. Black Watch. London: Faber.
Welsh, Irvine., 2013. Trainspotting. London: Vintage.
Poetry to be provided as pdf handouts.
9.3.2 Recommended
Mullan, John, 2008. How Novels Work OUP, Oxford.
Wallace, Gavin and Stevenson, Randall, eds., 1993. The Scottish Novel Since the 1970s. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
Stevenson, Robert Louis (2003) Stevenson¿s Scotland Edinburgh, Mercat Press.
Skoblow, Jeffrey, 2001 Dooble Tongue: Scots, Burns, Contradiction. Newark: University of Delaware Press.
Roberts, David, 1996. Minds at War: The Poetry and Experience of the First World War. Burgess Hill: Saxon Books.
Stephen, Martin, 1996. The Price of Pity: Poetry, History and Myth in the Great War. London: Leo Cooper.
Barker, Pat, 2008. Regeneration. Harmondsworth: Penguin.
Priestman, Martin ed. 2003 The Cambridge Companion to Detective Fiction. CUP, Cambridge.
Scaggs, John. 2005 Crime Fiction. Routledge, London.
Rennison, N., 2005. Contemporary British novelists. London: Routledge.
Brown, I., 2011. The Edinburgh Companion to Scottish Drama, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
Gardiner, Michael and Maley, Willy. eds., 2010. The Edinburgh Companion to Muriel Spark. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
McGuire, M. & Nicholson, C., 2009. The Edinburgh Companion to Contemporary Scottish Poetry, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
Robinson, R., 2012. The National Theatre of Scotland's Black Watch. Contemporary Theatre Review, 22(3), pp. 392¿399.
Morace, Robert, 2001. Irvine Welsh¿s Trainspotting: A Reader¿s Guide. London: Continuum.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Confidence in discussing texts
Ability to articulate knowledge and arguments coherently
Ability to assess secondary material
Course organiserMs Rachael King
Course secretaryMs Kameliya Skerleva
Tel: (0131 6)51 1855
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