EN3MAT-Margaret Atwood

Module Provider: English Literature
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Spring term module
Non-modular pre-requisites: English Part 1
Modules excluded:
Module version for: 2016/7

Module Convenor: Dr Madeleine Davies

Email: m.k.davies@reading.ac.uk

Summary module description:
Margaret Atwood is Canada’s most influential contemporary writer: her novels head international bestseller lists, yet she is also a writer regarded seriously by the critical community. This is largely because of Atwood’s consistent engagement with issues including power-based relationships informing the lived socio-culture, gender issues, and ecological/ideological arguments within texts destabilising notions of ‘history’ and ‘dystopia’. This module explores selected novels by Atwood, considering these issues and numerous others. The module also explores several critical and theoretical approaches including postcolonialist, postmodernist, ecocritical and feminist readings.

This module is designed to provide students with knowledge and understanding of selected novels of Margaret Atwood, and to equip students with a critical awareness of debates circulating around her work. The module will address a range of issues including the construction of Canadian national identity within the texts, genre splicing, ‘the body politic’, considerations of ‘life writing’, of writing as code and as ‘process’ and ‘product’, and questions of narration and ‘voice’. Students will be encouraged to engage with a wide range of critical readings of the selected texts, and theoretical ideas and approaches.

Assessable learning outcomes:
Assessable outcomes

By the end of the module students will be expected to:
•exercise skills of close textual analysis, and demonstrate an understanding of
the texts selected for study
•demonstrate an awareness of broader critical and theoretical issues raised by
the study of Atwood’s writing, particularly in relation to ‘identity’
formation, postmodernist inflection, and ideological meaning generation
•engage critically with ideas discussed in seminars and secondary literature
•construct and express coherent critical arguments in writing.

Additional outcomes:
Oral and written communication skills will be developed, together with critical, interpretative and analytical abilities. Students will also learn to use IT resources efficiently, as seminar preparation documents will be published on Blackboard so students will gain familiarity with the system at an early stage.

Outline content:
The module addresses selected novels of Margaret Atwood, Canada’s most influential contemporary writer. Central to the module will be debates around Atwood’s articulation of anxieties involved in questions of national identity, power relationships, ‘history’, and modes of ‘vision’. Emphasis will be placed on Atwood’s innovative narrative strategies, modes of social criticism, and discourses upon gender dynamics. Texts selected for study may include Alias Grace, Cat’s Eye, Oryx and Crake, The Penelopiad, The Blind Assassin, The Handmaid’s Tale and The Edible Woman. The texts are, however, selected annually and are therefore subject to change. Seminar discussion will revolve around readings produced by close textual analysis intersected with readings produced by broader critical and theoretical interventions.

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 30 1
Tutorials 0.5
Guided independent study 129.5 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 is must be resubmitted by 22 August.

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):
    1) Required text books:
    2) Specialist equipment or materials:
    3) Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear:
    4) Printing and binding:
    5) Computers and devices with a particular specification:
    6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence:

    Last updated: 21 December 2016

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