EN3FRG-Family Romances: Genealogy, Identity, and Imposture in the Nineteenth-Century Novel

Module Provider: English Literature
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn term module
Non-modular pre-requisites: Part 1 English
Modules excluded:
Module version for: 2017/8

Module Convenor: Dr Stephen Thomson

Email: s.thomson@reading.ac.uk

Summary module description:
From rogues such as Thackeray’s Barry Lyndon, to starstruck souls such as Dickens’s Pip in Great Expectations, protagonists of nineteenth-century novels who dream of betterment in the form of nobility find themselves entangled in webs of self-deception. This module will cover a range of nineteenth-century novels fascinated by the ways in which their protagonists fabricate identities, deceiving themselves and others. Inferring something inherently fabulous or romantic in the whole business of rank and title, such novels have much to tell us about the stories of class, property, entitlement, and merit that people tell themselves in forging a sense of self.

This module provides students with knowledge and understanding of the nineteenth-century novel in its literary, social, and cultural context. In particular it aims to examine the ways in which a selection of canonical authors explore and exploit the fabulous, romanced nature of narratives of social and biological origin, and to show the crucial role of the novel in formulating, criticising, and debating ideas of identity in the period.

Assessable learning outcomes:
Assessable outcomes

By the end of the module students will be expected to:
•Show an understanding of issues of class, merit, property, and place in the nineteenth-century novel
•Show an awareness of theoretical issues of narration and identity
•Engage critically with, and expand upon, material and ideas discussed in seminars
•Research and present appropriate critical and contextual material
•Show skills of close textual analysis

Additional outcomes:
Oral and written communication skills will be developed, together with critical, interpretative and analytical abilities. Students will also enhance their IT competence through the use of relevant web resources in a critically informed manner.

Outline content:
The course will feature six major novels, which may include Thackeray’s Barry Lyndon, Dickens’s Great Expectations, Eliot’s Daniel Deronda, and Hardy’s The Woodlanders. Samples of critical and contextual material will be discussed at the first seminar, and students will be invited to introduce the fruit of their own research at round-up sessions.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
Three seminar hours weekly, for which students are required to do preparatory reading. Students are also entitled to a half-hour tutorial on their formative written work. With the consent of the module convenor, students may also undertake a placement, through which they will learn how to apply the knowledge and skills gained in studying for this module in a professional context outside the University.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Seminars 33 1
Tutorials 0.5
Guided independent study 126.5 39
Total hours by term 160.00 40.00
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written exam 50
Written assignment including essay 50

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

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 write one formative essay, of between 1500 and 2000 words. Feedback will also be provided on the assessed essay of 2250-2500 words, or the equivalent placement report.

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 25 August.

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):

    Required text books

    Key Readings List:
    You can view a Key Readings list for this module here: http://readinglists.reading.ac.uk/lists/7C0737CA-71A6-B360-A18C-82154365DA63
    N.B. Reading lists may change before the module starts.

    Last updated: 4 April 2017

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