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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures : European Languages and Cultures - Common Courses

Undergraduate Course: The Coming of Age Narrative (ELCC08007)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Literatures, Languages and Cultures CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 8 (Year 2 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThe option analyses a range of texts across the corpus (broadly understood) of the 'Coming of Age' Narrative. The course engages with the relevant philosophical, psychological, historical and ethical frameworks that are implicated by an analysis of stories about growing up, self, other, development and environment. All texts will be in English translation.

If the quota for this course is full and you would like to be placed on a reserve list, please email the course secretary. If you have not received an offer of a place by Friday of week 1, you should assume that you will not be able to take the course.
Course description This course examines a selection of writings from a variety of national contexts, and analyses a range of texts across the corpus (broadly understood) of the 'Coming of Age' Narrative. The course explores how writers have responded to the challenge of depicting the complex processes informing how we become who we are, and what we understand to be the rites of passage from childhood through adolescence to adulthood. How do we find 'our voice'? What gets in the way of personal growth, or of us feeling wholly ourselves? What is the impact of nature, nurture, education, language, family, geography, ideology, for example?
'Coming of Age' implies various negotiations of family and society as the individual negotiates a sense of self in relation to others, in the light of existing codes and conventions (for example on sexuality and its norms). Traumatic events occurring in childhood may be shown to have ongoing effects through adolescence and into adulthood. Loss of innocence is frequently depicted in such works, whether at the individual or the collective level.
There will be a balance of male and female-authored texts in any one course instance, with consideration of potentially gendered aspects of the genre taken into account as part of the exploration. Readers have enjoyed tales of growing up for centuries, and we will examine a range of modern and contemporary depictions of the journey towards maturity, from the beginnings of the modern novel (Dostoevsky), through the formal experimentations with language and form of the 20th century (by the likes of de Beauvoir, Morante, Perec, or Sarraute). We will explore questions of voice and perspective: who is speaking, from what position, and on behalf of whom? How do they connect the personal, the local, and the global? What political, aesthetic and rhetorical strategies do they employ? We will consider our own positions and experiences as readers, and how we respond to different genres, themes and aesthetic strategies.
There is a broad selection of theoretical, secondary sources around the genre of the Coming of Age narrative and its various cultural contexts, which will be presented in the Introductory session, and interrogated throughout the course. Contextual and theoretical considerations will be balanced with close textual analysis. There is a range of possible texts for any one year, and these will alternate depending on availability of staff year to year.

Please note the quota for this course priorities Year 2 DELC students. If any spaces are left, they will be opened to other LLC pre-honours students.

Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2024/25, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  0
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 20, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 176 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Group presentation (40%) 10 minutes

Coursework Essay (60%)
1500 words.
Students will answer ONE question drawing on their knowledge of TWO or more texts from the course.

Feedback Individual oral feedback in class and written feedforward and feedback on the assessed group presentation.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Construct clear and coherent arguments about the 'Coming of Age' Narrative through analysis of a range of texts spanning different language contexts and cultures.
  2. Illustrate these arguments using close analysis of the themes, form and style of these representations.
  3. Contextualize and critique the 'Coming of Age' Narrative using primary and secondary sources.
  4. Present your research in different formats (group presentations/posters and essays).
Reading List
Primary texts (2024-25)
1. Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Adolescent (written c. 1875). Vintage 2004.
2. Simone de Beauvoir, Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter (1958). Penguin transl. (1959).
3. Hella Haasse, The Black Lake (1948/trans. Granta, 2012).
4. Maryane Satrapi, Persepolis (NY: Pantheon, 2003); available via:

Essential secondary reading (available from University library)

Abel, Elizabeth, Marianne Hirsch and Elizabeth Langland. The Voyage In: Fictions of Female Development. Hanover: University Press of New England, 1983.
Graham, Sarah, (ed.), A History of the Bildungsroman (CUP, 2019)
Hardin, James. Reflection and Action: Essays on the Bildungsroman. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1991.
Labovitz, Esther, The Myth of the Heroine: The Female Bildungsroman in the twentieth century : Dorothy Richardson, Simone de Beauvoir, Doris Lessing, Christa Wolf (P. Lang, 1988).

Bakhtin, M. M. (2006) The Bildungsroman and Its Significance in the History of Realism (Towards a Historical Typology of the Novel), in Speech Genres and Other Late Essays. Austin, Texas: University of Texas Press, 10-59.
Boes, Tobias, Formative Fictions: Nationalism, Cosmopolitanism, and the Bildungsroman (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2012).
Buckley, Jerome, Season of Youth: The Bildungsroman from Dickens to Golding, (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1974)
Castle, Gregory, Reading the Modernist Bildungsroman (Univ. Press of Florida, 2006).
Jeffers, Thomas L., Apprenticeships: The Bildungsroman from Goethe to Santayana, (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005)
LeSeur, Geta. Ten is the Age of Darkness: The Black Bildungsroman. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1995.
Moretti, Franco, The Way of the World: The Bildungsroman in European Culture (Verso, 2000).
Morgenstern, Karl, On the Nature of the Bildungsroman, PMLA 124 (2009): 647-59.
Redfield, Marc, Phantom Formations: Aesthetic Ideology and the "Bildungsroman" (Cornell University Press; reprint 2018).
Spacks, Patricia Meyer (1982) The Adolescent Idea: Myths of Youth and the Adult Imagination. United Kingdom: Faber and Faber.
Swales, Martin, The German Bildungsroman from Wieland to Hesse (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1978).
van Gennep, Arnold, The Rites of Passage. Oxon: Routledge, 2010.

Further reading
Alden, Patricia (1986) Social Mobility in the English Bildungsroman: Gissing, Hardy, Bennett, and Lawrence. Michigan: UMI Research Press.
Appleyard, Joseph Albert, Becoming a Reader: The Experience of Fiction from Childhood to Adulthood (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991).
Arnett, Jeffrey Jenson (2004) Emerging Adulthood: The Winding Road from the Late Teens through the Twenties. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Bromley, Roger. Narratives for a New Belonging: Diasporic Cultural Fictions. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2000.
Friedman, Susan Stanford. Mappings: Feminism and the Cultural Geographies of Encounter. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1998.
Hentges, Sarah (2006) Pictures of Girlhood: Modern Female Adolescence on Film. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc. Publishers.
Keen, Suzanne, Empathy and the Novel (OUP, 2007).
----------,Novel Readers and the Empathetic Angel of Our Nature, in Rethinking Empathy through Literature, edited by Meghan Marie Hammond and Sue J. Kim (Abingdon: Routledge, 2014).
Kontje, Todd (1993) The German Bildungsroman: History of a National Genre. New York: Camden House, Inc.
Kushigian, Julia A., Reconstructing Childhood: Strategies of Reading for Culture and Gender in the Spanish American Bildungsroman, (Lewisburg: Bucknell University Press, 2003)
Lionnet, Fran├žoise, Autobiographical Voices: Race, Gender, Self-Portraiture (Cornell University Press; reprint 2018).
McWilliams, Ellen, Margaret Atwood and the Female Bildungsroman (Routledge, 2009).
Moi, Toril, Sexual/Textual Politics, (London: Routledge, 1985, 2002)
Prout, Alan (2005) The Future of Childhood: Towards the Interdisciplinary Study of Childhood. London: Routledge.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills During this course, students will further develop graduate attributes and personal and professional skills in the following areas: Research and enquiry: analytical thinking; critical thinking; knowledge integration and application; handling complexity and ambiguity. Personal and intellectual autonomy: self-awareness and reflection; independent learning and development; creative and inventive thinking. Personal effectiveness: planning, organising and time management; assertiveness and confidence; flexibility. Communication: interpersonal skills; verbal and written communication.
Special Arrangements The quota for this course will be raised to 40 once places have been allocated to Year 2 DELC students.
Keywords'coming of age',childhood and adolescence,narrative,culture,environment,gender
Course organiserDr Susan Bainbrigge
Tel: (0131 6)50 8417
Course secretaryMrs Lina Gordyshevskaya
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