EN1RC-Research and Criticism

Module Provider: English Literature
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn / Spring term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Module version for: 2017/8

Module Convenor: Dr Nicola Abram

Email: n.l.abram@reading.ac.uk

Summary module description:
This module provides a secure foundation in both the practical skills and theoretical literacy needed for the degree-level study of literature. It combines advanced training in reading, research, and academic writing with an introduction to debates around the core concepts of ‘reader’, ‘author’, and ‘text’. The set texts – a selection of short stories and literary essays from across the world – invite students to reflect on the complexities of these critical terms and to become more independent and more questioning as readers. A series of online screencasts equip students with subject-specific skills such as writing a critical précis and plot summary as well as general academic good practice like referencing and incorporating quotations.

This module aims to induct students into the degree-level study of literature. It will develop students’ practices as readers, researchers, and writers, and promote an understanding of the complexity of the core concepts ‘reader’, ‘author’, and ‘text’. It also aims to demonstrate the cultural diversity of literatures in English, preparing students to make informed choices for the elective elements of their degree.

Assessable learning outcomes:

By the end of the module students will be expected to: • apply an understanding of critical/theoretical issues to reading both fiction and non-fiction texts • describe some of the ways in which literature is political • analyse how literature participates in the representation of gender, ethnicity, sexuality, class, and nationality • access and evaluate a range of published materials (print and digital) • cite and reference sources accurately • exercise skills of close textual analysis, plot summary, and critical précis • plan, write, and proof-read essays effectively

Additional outcomes:
Oral and written communication skills will be developed, together with critical, interpretative and analytical abilities. Students will also learn to reflect on their own critical approaches and academic practices.

Students will enhance their IT competence by accessing subscription resources and bespoke screencasts through the University of Reading Library and the Virtual Learning Environment (Blackboard).

Outline content:
Selected short stories and literary essays will provide a contextualised induction into core theoretical issues, and will structure the lecture content and seminar discussion. These texts reflect the diversity of global literatures in English. In the Autumn Term, students will engage with the critical concepts of ‘Reader’ and ‘Author’; example authors may include Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Zadie Smith, Roland Barthes, and George Orwell. The Spring Term focuses on the critical concept of ‘Text’; example authors may include Bharati Mukherjee, Judith Butler, Katherine Mansfield, and Raja Shehadeh.

Through a series of screencasts and associated practical exercises, students will develop research skills such as accessing print and online resources through the Library, appropriately incorporating published scholarship into essays, and citing and referencing accurately.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
This module is delivered through a combination of lectures and structured seminar discussion, for which students are required to do preparatory reading. Students will also be required to access and watch online screencasts, and to complete a series of independent formative tasks based on this remote learning.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 10 10
Seminars 8 10
Tutorials 0
Practicals classes and workshops 1
Guided independent study 81 80
Total hours by term 100.00 100.00 0.00
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 100

Other information on summative assessment:
Summative Assessment Methods (%) - work which always contributes towards the overall module mark:

Students will be required to submit two summative essays, one of 1,300-1,500 words (40%) and one of 1,400-1,600 words (60%). These are due at the start of the Spring and Summer Terms, respectively.

Formative assessment methods:
Formative Assessment Methods - work which provides opportunities to improve performance (e.g. through feedback provided) but which does not necessarily always contribute towards the overall module mark:

Students will complete a series of short formative tasks throughout the Autumn and Spring Terms, and will receive spoken and individual written feedback from their seminar tutor. The skills learned through the formative tasks will prepare students to undertake the summative essays. Written feedback will also be provided on the summative essays.

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convenor will apply the following penalties for work submitted late, in accordance with the University policy.

  • where the piece of work is submitted up to one calendar week after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for the piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

  • The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at: http://www.reading.ac.uk/web/FILES/qualitysupport/penaltiesforlatesubmission.pdf
    You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

    Length of examination:

    Requirements for a pass:
    A mark of at least 40% overall.

    Reassessment arrangements:

    Re-examination in August. Coursework will be carried forward if it bears a confirmed mark of 40% or more. Otherwise it must be resubmitted by 25th August.

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):

    Set texts will be provided digitally free of charge, but students are expected to print these and written work at their own expense. 

    Key Readings List:
    You can view a Key Readings list for this module here: http://readinglists.reading.ac.uk/lists/735472E1-D4CA-D41E-FBFE-159E1C479E53
    N.B. Reading lists may change before the module starts.

    Last updated: 4 April 2017

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