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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures : English Literature

Postgraduate Course: Writing Selves (ENLI11256)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Literatures, Languages and Cultures CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryOn this course, students will explore a range of contemporary imaginative works centred on configurations of self. While many of the primary texts are poetry collections, we will also look at relevant examples of memoir, (auto)fiction and personal essays. Discussion of the primary texts will be contextualised by theoretical reading in subjectivity, autobiography and lyric address, and by relevant studies on the craft of writing. Through close reading, we'll analyse the effects of various techniques, such as the choice of pronoun / perspective, and address a range of questions relating to subjectivity - its formation and representation - in the context of, on the one hand, the distinction-annihilating forces of globalisation and consumerism, and, on the other, the rise of online communities centred on aspects of identity. We'll ask what it means to be an I, a You or a We today, and how best writers may turn the different forms of writing we'll explore to tackling the questions they at once raise and arise in response to.
Course description In 'The Exile's Accent,' Michael Donaghy celebrates that in Elizabeth Bishop's work which proposes poetry writing not as a means of expressing a 'natural' and pre-established self or voice but of working to construct one. On this multi-genre course, students will consider a range of contemporary imaginative works centred on the expression and construction of self. Identity is a key focus of our times; but in the poems, memoirs, (auto)fiction and essays we'll examine, its formation manifests as fraught, complex and open-ended. In formally experimental works whose focal topics include race, gender, sexuality and the politics of communal expression, the writers we'll study employ a range of strategies and perspectives to uncover, analyse and suggestively refashion the mechanics of located subjectivity. As well as those in first person, we'll read texts written in second person, first person plural and third person, and we'll examine works by writers who, in seeking to formulate adequate models for their own individuality, dynamically co-opt 'external' objects, figures and motifs. From voices that emanate from within the self but sit at unintelligible angles to it to the self as site for cross-cultural dialogue, the texts we'll analyse and employ as models pose as many questions as they offer answers; above all, they refuse the tempting limitations of defined categories. From their innovative approaches to expressing, expanding - and sometimes exploding - the parameters of self, we will learn both as scholars and as makers.

On the basis of preparatory reading, seminars will centre on discussion of the primary texts in the context of relevant theoretical material, and with a parallel focus on craft - in particular, on how different forms of writing lend themselves to, and generate, different modes of self-exploration and utterance. In other words, we will look at texts not only as critics but also as aspirant authors, considering the kinds of questions writers of poetry, fiction and creative non-fiction must formulate and address in order to achieve effective marriages of content and mode.

To prepare fully for the seminar, students will be required to meet in smaller Autonomous Learning Groups in advance to produce material which will be presented to the class in a variety of forms (e.g. reports posted on the course VLE, informal contribution to class discussion, more formal in-class presentations). Active participation in both seminars and ALGs is required.

For MSc students, the course is assessed by an interlinked creative-critical coursework assignment of 5,000 words (or equivalent, where poems are included), the weighting and focus of which is to be discussed in individual meetings with the course organiser. Written feedback will be provided on the assignment, and on a plan presented to the course organiser in advance, and follow-up verbal feedback will be available for anyone who requests it.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Additional Costs Essential Course Texts
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Construct original, clear and coherent arguments that demonstrate an understanding of representations of self in contemporary texts
  2. Analyse literary texts using appropriate supporting material to substantiate and illustrate their arguments
  3. Evaluate and assess the ways in which representations of self are conditioned by the formal dynamics of texts and the perspective from which those texts are written
  4. Express themselves creatively as well as analytically
  5. Evidence independent research skills in the shaping of an original creative-critical research project
Reading List
See Library Resource List
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills As an outcome of having studied this course, students will benefit from having developed a range of personal and professional skills commensurate with the range of SCQF Level 11 characteristics:

Knowledge and Understanding: students will have had the opportunity to demonstrate extensive and detailed critical understanding of theories and concepts of literary analysis, and of textual construction, in relation to their reading and discussion of the course material;

Applied Knowledge, Skills and Understanding: in their work for class discussion and presentations, and through the planning and execution of a significant research project for assessment, students will have been able to practice the application of these theories and concepts in their construction of original arguments about, and creative responses to, the course material;

Generic Cognitive Skills: in completing assessments and class presentations, students will have practiced identifying, defining, conceptualising, and analysing complex problems and issues germane to the discipline, and identifying creative solutions to those problems and issues;

Communication: through participating in these tasks students will also have demonstrated the ability to communicate ideas and information about specialised topics in the discipline to an informed audience of their peers and subject specialists;

Autonomy and Working with Others: students will also have shown the capacity to work autonomously and in small groups on designated tasks, develop new thinking with their peers, and take responsibility for the reporting, analysis and defence of these ideas to a larger group.
Keywordssubjectivity,contemporary literature,creative writing,literary analysis
Course organiserDr Miriam Gamble
Course secretaryMiss Kara McCormack
Tel: (0131 6)50 3030
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