TRU1113 - Literature and the History of Ideas

2020/1 Module description

StaffDr Christopher Stokes - Convenor
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15
NQF Level4
Duration of Module Term 1: 11 weeks;

Module description

This module introduces you to some of the most influential and powerful concepts relevant to the study of literature, and analyses them as they are found, represented and interrogated in a variety of literary texts. Engaging ideas from a range of domains (including aesthetics, philosophy and politics), the module covers a long historical sweep, from classical origins to some of the key positions of modern critical theory. Over the course of 11 seminars you will gain an insight into how literature can be juxtaposed with intellectual currents of its own period, as well as appreciate how traditions of thought can exist across time.

Module aims

This module will aim to introduce you to core philosophical, critical and aesthetic concepts that are relevant to the study and interpretation of literature. It sets out ways of reading given literary texts against some of the most resonant ideas of their own time, whilst also introducing you to the way that these ideas persist across literary history. Setting out foundational modes of critical analysis and inquiry, it prepares you for engaging with literary and cultural ‘texts’ at levels 2 and 3, as well as covering paradigms central to modern schools of literary and critical theory.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Through seminar contributions and/or written work, demonstrate competent knowledge and understanding of large-scale concepts and methodological questions relevant to literary studies
  • 2. Demonstrate a competent knowledge and understanding of important literary texts

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 3. Demonstrate competence in the close reading and analysis of set texts
  • 4. Draw upon relevant critical writings when analysing literary texts, and document these sources in bibliographies

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 5. Capably research, process and deploy information in written form to a set deadline and/or in a time-limited setting
  • 6. Produce written work that conveys an argument competently, in clear and correct prose
  • 7. Through exams, demonstrate knowledge and memory skills

Syllabus plan

Topics and text studies may include some of the following:

  • Humanism and Posthumanism
  • Power and Biopolitics
  • Class and Marxism
  • Empire and the Postcolonial
  • Enlightenment and Terror
  • Faith and the Secular
  • Nature and Environmental Criticism
  • Gender and Feminism
  • Sex, Sexuality and Queer Theory
  • Bodies and Affect
  • Rhetoric and Politics

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching22Lectures – large group teaching (22 x 1 hour)
Scheduled Learning and Teaching22Seminars – small group teaching (11 x 2 hours)
Guided Independent Study256Preparation for seminars and assessment

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay1000 words1-6Written and option for oral feedback

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay451500 words1-6Written and option for oral feedback
Examination451.5 hours 1-7Written and option for oral feedback
Participation10Continuous1-4Oral feedback with opportunity for office hours follow-up

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
EssayEssay1-6Referral/deferral period
ExaminationExamination1-7Referral/deferral period
ParticipationRepeat Study or mitigation1-4N/a

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to redo the assessment(s) as necessary. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Basic reading:

  • You should purchase, or already be in possession of, The Norton Anthology of English Literature, 9th edition, ed. M.H. Abrams and Stephen Greenblatt, et. al. (New York and London: W.W. Norton, 2012).

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Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date


Key words search

Literature, philosophy, critical theory

Important please note

Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the module descriptors for the Online Module Selection process, please be aware that on rare occasions it may be necessary to remove proposed modules for reasons beyond our control. In addition, there are still some new modules going through the accreditation process. These will be offered in due course by the relevant discipline.

All modules displayed below have been approved by the approval process but may require further minor amendments before the commencement of teaching.

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Foreign Language Centre modules 2020/21

Term 1 module codes listed above ending with C, i.e. FLF1115C, are only available to outbound students who are away in Term 2. Students studying all year must select the standard module across both Term 1 and 2.