Type of module:

Summary module description:
Helen of Troy has captured the imagination of numerous creative and scholarly writers both in antiquity and closer to our own time. Even in antiquity the contradictory versions of her story provoked multiple narratives and strong reactions. This module investigates the figure of Helen via various literary versions from Greece, Rome, and subsequent cultures. We shall explore the themes of gender, desire and marriage, identity and deception, poetic language and poetic tradition, both in the ancient texts and in significant modern receptions.


  • To familiarise students with different versions of Helen of Troy

  • To examine some of the literary and theoretical debates that this figure has generated

  • Students will have the opportunity to develop a creative response to the themes of the module.

Assessable learning outcomes:
Students who complete the module successfully should be able to:

•Identify themes and concerns which emerge in the set texts
•Compare a variety of set texts in terms of their historical, cultural and formal dimensions
•Complement the evidence and arguments presented in the seminars with additional information assembled by their own research
•Articulate their arguments effectively and illustrate them with relevant evidence

Additional outcomes:
Students will gain experience with IT and with group presentations.

Outline content:

The class will read excerpts from a variety of texts which investigate the figure of Helen of Troy. Texts will include Homer, tragedy, philosophy, Vergil, Ovid, and modern plays and poems. There will be a discussion of how to develop a creative response to the themes of the module, and an opportunity to submit a poem, prose text, or other creative project as part of the assessment.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
The module will proceed by 2-hour seminars, which will include group presentations.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Seminars 20
Guided independent study: 180
Total hours by term 200 0 0
Total hours for module 200

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 100

Summative assessment- Examinations:

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

Comprises an essay due in by 12 noon on Friday week 7 (40%), and an essay, or creative project, due in by 12 noon on Friday of week 2 of the following term (60%).

Formative assessment methods:
Class discussion and feedback on written work.

Penalties for late submission:

The Module Convenor will apply the following penalties for work submitted late:

  • where the piece of work is submitted after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for that piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day[1] (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.

Assessment requirements for a pass:
40% overall

Reassessment arrangements:
Re-submission of coursework at the start of the August resit period

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: 23 July 2020


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