EN1RGN-The reading group: three ninenteenth-century novels

Module Provider: English Literature
Number of credits: 10 [5 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Spring term module
Non-modular pre-requisites: Non-Requisite: This module cannot be taken by any student registered for any English Literature single or joint-honours programmes.
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2019/0

Module Convenor: Dr Debbie Bark

Email: d.l.bark@reading.ac.uk

Type of module:

Summary module description:

"No story is the same to us after a lapse of time; or rather we who read it are no longer the same interpreters" (George Eliot).

Stories permeate every part of our lives. They frame our relationships, our politics, our histories, and our place in the world. This module looks at the art of storytelling, and at contemporary debates about what makes some kinds of story especially effective. It makes the case for the novel as the preeminent narrative form. But the seminars themselves have a relaxed, 'reading group' atmosphere. They give students from all disciplines the space to read and reflect deeply on three well-known nineteenth-century novels, with a special emphasis on narrative technique. This module pairs informally with the Autumn Term module EN1TST, so students with a 20-credit module requirement can take the modules sequentially. There is no requirement, however, that students taking this module should have completed EN1TST.


This module aims to provide students from across the university with an understanding of how writers tell stories. To meet this general aim students will read and discuss three well-known nineteenth-century novels in English, and explore them as case studies in narrative technique. Students will develop knowledge of different aspects of narrative theory, and learn how to use that knowledge in the analysis of novels. This module will give students the opportunity to develop their skills as readers, and as critics who reflect on the arts and pleasures of storytelling.

Assessable learning outcomes:

At the end of this module it is expected that students will be able to:

  • Articulate their responses to the set texts through reflection and critical inquiry

  • Analyse the key narrative techniques deployed by a selection of nineteenth-century novelists

  • Show independence in critical thinking and judgement

  • Demonstrate skill in researching and engaging with a contextual field, and with narrative theory

  • Organize and articulate a coherent written response within the occasional form of the weekly Learning Journal

Additional outcomes:

Students will be encouraged to enhance their IT competence through the use of relevant web resources and databases and the regular filing of Learning Journal entries on Blackboard. They will also develop skills of oral communication through participation in seminar discussion. Students will gain a more confident and discriminating awareness of their own critical procedures as readers, which will carry over into their studies in other subject areas.


Outline content:

Novels may include:

  • Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley

  • Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens

  • The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde.

Students will be provided with excerpts from relevant critical texts, such as Narrative by Paul Cobley and The Cambridge Companion to Narrative, ed. David Herman.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

This module is taught through a combination of lectures and structured seminar discussions, for which students are required to read the set texts in advance. This module focuses on reflective learning methods, with students required to complete a Learning Journal entry each week via Blackboard, in which they will respond to the ongoing process of reading, analysis and discussion. At the beginning of term students will receive instruction on how Learning Journals differ from other forms of assessable output (eg. coursework, exams), and on how to compose and record their journal entries.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 10
Seminars 9
Guided independent study: 81
Total hours by term 100
Total hours for module 100

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Portfolio 100

Summative assessment- Examinations:

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

This module is assessed entirely through a weekly Learning Journal. There will be no coursework, essay or examination component to the assessment. Students will be required to choose five of the nine Learning Journal entries completed over the course of the term for summative assessment.

Formative assessment methods:

In week 6 the first four Learning Journal entries submitted for this module will be commented on by markers, and this will constitute the formative assessment for this module. Students will be able to choose from the first four and/or any of the remaining five Learning Journal entries to make up their final portfolio for summative assessment.

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convener 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:


    Reassessment arrangements:

    Since the Learning Journal is a reflection on a week-by-week process or reading and seminar discussion, reassessment for this module will take a different form: a 1500-word coursework essay on any one text read during the course, in answer to questions set by the module convenor, due to be resubmitted by 12 noon of the last Friday of August.

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):




    1. Required text books

        About £20

    1. Specialist equipment or materials


    1. Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear


    1. Printing and binding


    1. Computers and devices with a particular specification


    1. Travel, accommodation and subsistence


    Last updated: 8 April 2019


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