EN3WWP-Writing Women: Nineteenth Century Poetry

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: 2016/7

Module Convenor: Dr Lucy Bending

Email: l.v.bending@reading.ac.uk

Summary module description:
This module will explore writing primarily by (but also about) women in the nineteenth century. We will read some well-known and influential poems –Christina Rossetti’s Goblin Market and Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Aurora Leigh, for example – as well as some by less well-known names, discussing the ways in which women responded to poetic tradition. We will ask how women found a voice in a predominantly patriarchal society; what subjects were deemed suitable for female poets, and how such poets overcame the limitations of expectation; how different verse forms could be used to different ends. Above all, the aim is to enjoy a wide-range of poems with women at their centre.

This module is designed to expand students’ knowledge and understanding of the nineteenth century by providing an introduction to the poetry women wrote and had written about them (though the focus will be on poetry written by women). The aim is to understand the ways in which women poets responded to poetic tradition and the requirements of genre to carve out an intellectual and creative space for themselves. The end point should be that students are able to undertake nuanced and attentive readings of nineteenth-century women’s poetry, with an understanding of its social and cultural context.

Assessable learning outcomes:
By the end of the module it is expected that the student will be able to:
-Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of a wide sweep of nineteenth-century poetry
-Recognize the importance of genre and form in poetic representation
-Make connections between the tactics and ambitions of different women poets, recognizing connections between them and their male counterparts
-Research, organize and articulate a scholarly critical argument in writing

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:
This module is concerned with the possibilities open to nineteenth-century women poets and the ways in which these writers responded to social circumstances and expectations. It seeks to ask key questions about the formal possibilities open to women writers, beginning with Charlotte Smith’s reinvigoration of the sonnet sequence at the beginning of the century, moving through the possibilities offered by the obvious piety of the hymn form, through Barrett Browning’s multifarious, and not always effective strategies for establishing herself as a major poet, through Christina Rossetti’s experiments with fairy tale and other forms, and on to the poets of the turn of the century – Michael Field, Augusta Webster, Amy Levy – and their response to their ‘poetic mothers’. This module will, of course, engage with the feminist agenda of these poets, and the relationship of poetry to its social, political, and literary milieu.

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 it 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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