ENMBEC-Samuel Beckett

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

Module Convenor: Prof Steven Matthews

Email: s.matthews@reading.ac.uk

Type of module:

Summary module description:
This module provides an in-depth study of the works and intellectual contexts of Samuel Beckett. It will look at a representative selection from his drama, prose, broadcast media, poetry and criticism and will encourage students to use the extensive Beckett manuscript holdings in the university library.

This module is designed to provide students with knowledge and understanding of the works and contexts of Samuel Beckett. It aims to provide skills of textual analysis, to explore the theoretical issues raised by the texts and to locate Beckett’s work within its intellectual and cultural contexts. Students will be introduced to manuscript research at the Beckett Archive in the Reading University Library and encouraged to make use of these holdings in their independent research and assessment exercises.

Assessable learning outcomes:
-Exercise skills of close textual analysis
-Consider relationships between texts studied, their differences and similarities
-Understand the significant factors behind the development Beckett’s literary career
-Demonstrate an awareness of the intellectual milieu in which the texts were produced
-Construct and express coherent critical arguments, both orally and in writing

Additional outcomes:

Outline content:
Samuel Beckett was one of the leading authors and intellectual figures of the twentieth century. In his searing theatrical images and prose writings, Beckett achieved a spare beauty and vision of human suffering, shot through with dark comedy and humour. Beckett is the figure who, perhaps more than any other writer or intellectual in mid-century Europe, articulated the crisis of civilization of the post-War era. It is, therefore, a tremendous cultural and scholarly resource that the biggest collection of Beckett papers in the world is housed in the University of Reading, under the aegis of the Beckett International Foundation. Students of this module will be encouraged to make use of this Archive, in a seminar that will examine Beckett’s work in drama, prose, poetry and non-fiction. As well as undertaking close textual analysis, it will place Beckett’s work in relation to his life and wider cultural contexts. Topics to be discussed in seminar will include Beckett’s relationship to intellectual currents such as existentialism, absurdism and modernism/post-modernism; the impact on his work of psychology, the visual arts, and his wide reading in theology and philosophy; and his relationship to Ireland, to Europe and to the political contexts from which he wrote.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
The module consists of eleven weekly seminars, each two hours in length. Each seminar will involve discussion of texts or special materials that have been set and prepared in advance. The module teacher will also be available for consultation with students on a one-to-one basis to discuss their work and the progress of the module as a whole.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Seminars 22
Project Supervision 1
Guided independent study: 177
Total hours by term 0 200 0
Total hours for module 200

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 100

Summative assessment- Examinations:
Not applicable.

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:
Aside from the set readings and questions for discussion, students must submit a 4000-word essay on a topic of their choice, in which they will respond to and develop upon an aspect of the material covered in the seminars. The specific title will be determined by the student in consultation with the module convenor.

Formative assessment methods:
Presentations with feedback.

Penalties for late submission:
Penalties for late submission on this module are in accordance with the University policy. Please refer to page 5 of the Postgraduate Guide to Assessment for further information: http://www.reading.ac.uk/internal/exams/student/exa-guidePG.aspx

Assessment requirements for a pass:

Reassessment arrangements:
Re-submission of coursework.

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: 29 October 2019


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